Today is the birthday of Augustus Caesar, born in ancient Velitrae (Velletri) in 63 BC.
When I was living in Rome, on this day I was accustomed to stroll to the Ara Pacis and read some of the bronze lettered text embedded in the wall before the Mausoleum of Augustus, the text of the Res Gestae Divi Augustii.
The first panel:
Try reading part of it aloud:
Annos undeviginti natus exercitum privato consilio et privata impensa comparavi per quem rem publicam a dominatione factionis oppressam in liberatatem vindicavi.
One of my favorite parts is where Augustus boasts about the accomplishment of closing the doors of the Temple of Janus. These doors were closed only where there was a state of peace. This was probably the occasion of the fullness of time, when the Roman state, so important for the foundation and “culture” of the Catholic Church Christ founded, was at peace… and therefore ready for the birth of our Lord into this our vale of tears.
13 Ianum Quirinum, quem claussum esse maiores nostri voluerunt, cum per totum imperium populi Romani terra marique esset parta victoriis pax, cum prius, quam náscerer, a condita urbe bis omnino clausum fuisse prodátur memoriae, ter me principe senatus claudendum esse censuit.
Janus Quirinus, which our ancestors ordered to be closed whenever there was peace, secured by victory, throughout the whole domain of the Roman people on land and sea, and which, before my birth is recorded to have been closed but twice in all since the foundation of the city, the senate ordered to be closed thrice while I was princeps.
So, Augustus brought about the conditions of peace necessary for the Incarnation of the Lord and, moreover, His escape from Herod. As The Great Roman texted me today:
“Travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem would have been impossible a few years earlier, without the Cohors Italica making sure no one would even dream of robbing/raping/hurting in any way those traveling that route.”
The same goes for traveling to escape the predations of Herod.
It is an interesting starting point for reflection on Church State relations.
Today, the remains of the Temple of Janus form a part of the Basilica of San Nicola in Carcere in the Forum Holitorium, in which I was ordained to the diaconate by the late great Card. Mayer in June 1990 for the place Augustus was born.