Because they reflect the glory of God and Heaven. Over the centuries, the faithful contributed from what they earned for their living for the church to be a dignified and befitting place to worship God Almighty. Some non-catholic people today wonder about this, whilst they don’t worship the One God at all and put their money towards their own personal living room, cars and gardens, for those to look splendid instead. Others find it adequate to worship the Creator of Heaven and earth, whom they owe everything to, in very simple buildings equipped with a few wooden benches among bare walls, and not even having an altar.
Tag Archives: churches
PERSECUTION OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS HAD STOPPED BECAUSE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE LEGALISED CHRISTIANITY – WHAT HAPPENED AFTERWARDS?
“After the peace granted to the Church by Emperor Constantine, the most beautiful external manifestations of worship blossomed throughout the whole Catholic world, which shone forth most brightly in the construction of cathedrals and basilicas. Constantine [who conceded freedom of worship to Christians (in 313) after he had a dream promising him victory under the sign of the Cross; Constantine was baptised at the point of death in 337] had them built in Rome and Byzantium, whilst his mother, St Helena, with her considerable wealth, restored in a magnificent way the holy places of Palestine.
THE LITURGY IN THE IV CENTURY
In the West, the traditions of the Roman Church make known to us that Pope St Sylvester instituted and regulated in detail, from the IV Century, the rights that we practise today in the dedication of the basilicas built in Rome, through the munificence of Constantine. This Emperor built, in his Lateran palace, a church which he dedicated under the title of the Saviour, and which, known under the name of St John of the Lateran, has become the see of the Roman Pontiff, the Mother and mistress of all the churches of Rome and of the entire world, just as can be read on the inscription on the principal facade.
Apart from this church, Constantine also built that of St Peter’s, over the very body of this Apostle, in Vatican City; that of St Paul, over the body of the Apostle of the Gentiles, on the Ostiensian Way; the church of St Lawrence, extra muros, on the Tiburtian Way, the church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, in agro Sessoriano; that of St Agnes on the Nomentanian Way, the church of Ss Marcellinus and Peter, on the Labicana Way, and still various others in Rome in the area surrounding the capital city.
Not content with rebuilding the sanctuaries of ancient Rome with a truly imperial magnificence, the pious emperor wished, as far as was possible for him, to sanctify the new (Rome), which he built over ancient Byzantium. There he built magnificent basilicas, amongst which we remember the one he dedicated to eternal Wisdom, under the name of St Sophia; that of St Irene, which was the Great Church during his reign; the church of the Twelve Apostles which he destined for his burial place, and a great number of others in the city and surrounding areas, principally over the tombs of the martyrs.
His zeal for solemn manifestations of the Faith appeared also in the care which he took in placing the effigy of the Cross in public places of the new capital city. He also loved to have represented, on the fountains in the centre of the piazza, two subjects principally dear to the Christians of the era: the good Shepherd and Daniel in the lion’s den.
But a subject which particularly affected the Christians of this century and which gave occasion to the most pompous acts of the Liturgy, was the restoration carried out by St Helena, of the holy places of Palestine that gave witness to the life, the miracles and the sufferings of the Man-God. Following the pious intentions of his mother, Constantine placed the treasures of the empire at the disposition of St Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, so that the church which was to be built over the Holy Sepulchre would surpass in magnificence all the other buildings throughout the whole world.
Eusebius has conserved the description of this basilica, which was constructed over a period of six years… After having portrayed all the splendour which shone forth in the construction of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the historian ended thus: ‘It would be impossible to describe the sumptuousness, the delicacy, the greatness, the number, the variety of decorations and other objects which had been offered, shining with gold, silver and precious stones, which the imperial magnificence accumulated in the temple of the Resurrection.’
But if we are to deplore the silence of Eusebius upon a subject so important for the Liturgy – as well as of the sacred vessels and other gifts which surround the altar in the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre – Providence has at least permitted that the inventory of the various churches of Rome of the same century, has been made known to us, to compensate, in some way, for the negligence by which the historians have deprived us.
The important chronicle, known by the name of Liber pontificalis, contains, in the article of St Sylvester, the list of objects offered to various churches of Rome, from this Pontiff as well as from emperor Constantine. One may, according to these particulars, have an idea of the divine service, as it was practised in the basilicas which were so richly furnished with all that was necessary for religious worship. (To be continued)
– This article by Servant of God Dom Prosper Gueranger was published in “De Vita Contemplativa”, issue June 2013.
After proclaiming the gospel in that town and making many disciples, they returned to Lystra and Iconium and on to Antioch. They were strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, for they said, “We must go through many trials to enter the Kingdom of God.” In each church they appointed elders and, after praying and fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had placed their faith.
Then they travelled through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia. They preached the Word in Perga and went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had first been commended to God’s grace for the task they had now completed.
On their arrival they gathered the Church together and told them all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the non-Jews. They spent a fairly long time there with the disciples.
V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.