Yesterday, Wednesday 6th February, saw the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday, the day after my 40th birthday, which means that the traditional octave associated with my birthday was solemnly abolished.
A great tradition in Rome is that of the station churches: originally the tradition had its origin in the annual visitation of the Pope to churches in his diocese on set days of the year. The tradition died out after the 14th century but was revived in the 19th century, and since the end of the 1960s the American College has visited each of the church throughout Lent (apart from Sundays): the event is fairly popular and the Americans are joined by an assortment of clergy, religious and lay people.
Yesterday Mass was at 6.45am at the church of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill. We left the Casa around 6.05am and prayed the rosary together on the way. Santa Sabina was constructed between 422 and 432 and made by Pope Gregory the Great into the station church for Ash Wednesday; it had a lot of reconstruction work done to it in the 9th century, but after a 20th century restoration, which did away with accretions, appears what seems to be more like its old self. The pictures aren't so good this time:
It was a beautiful morning and from the Aventine a beautiful view of St Peter's in the distance: