August 23, 2007

Pilgrimage: Capuchin Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rome

Cardinal Barberini’s tomb is front and center in the floor. It reads, “hic iacet pulvis, cinis, et nihil.”

To write, “here lies nothing.” It’s so ironic—to say that something you are looking at is nothing. But this is one of central ironies of the Christian life: to be alive, but baptized into the death of Christ, and to be dead in sin, but alive in Christ.

St. Justin Martyr’s relics are here. Pray for us St. Justin, especially for Capuchin students.

We have Mass here on the altar of St. Felix of Cantalice. What a grace to make the connection between the body of Christ offered in the Mass—and which we receive and become—and the resting body of our own St. Felix. The body of Christ, past, present, and to come. At the same time, buses full of the curious come to see our famous bone yard, remarking on one expression of our belief in the Resurrection that has now become quaint and macabre by the world’s standards.

Update: This post gets a lot of search engine traffic, so I'm adding this link to the friars' own site about the crypt chapels.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have heard a homily on the resurrection of the body exactly once in the 10 years I have been catholic. Yet this dogma of the faith is so important to our lives and the temptations of the modern world. I think there are a lot of manichean and cathrist elements in the faith of a good number of chatholics who have never been challenged to think about the eternal nature of their bodies.

We are too quick to separate the body from the soul in our thinking. Because of this, too many of us care too little about the defilement of our bodies. I think that a good deal of our justifications for and rationalizations of sexual sin are rooted in a rejection of the body as an eternal part of who we are. When the reality is that our essence for eternity is to be creatures of the flesh. A fuller awareness of this truth would likely mean greater attention to our vocation as stewards of the earth as well.

One of the things I like about relics is that they are pieces of eternity. Because the soul of the saint is in heaven, we know that the pieces of matter that survive them on earth--their bones--have reached a perfection not seen many places in the physical world.

--ben in denver