ROME 22/6 – DAY 12: Full iron circle

The time of sunrise in Rome today was 5:32.  Sunset will fall at 20:49.  The Ave Maria won’t ring at 21:15 in the Vatican, but it should ring at one Roman parish at 21:19.

It is the feast of St. Anthony of Lisbon… er um… of Padua (+1231).  He was canonized a year after his death – at only 35 – and named Doctor of the Church by Pius XII.

My favorite story about Anthony is that when he was in heretical Rimini the people wouldn’t listen to him.  He therefore went to the shore and began to preach and the fish gathered and stuck their heads out of water to show that they were listening.

Also, for fun, there is a recording of a hymn called “O Gloriosa Domina” by Venantius Fortunatus which Antony’s mother used to sing to him.  It is said that he died singing this beautiful hymn to Our Lady.

And… how about this! Stunning… Matthew Curtis does all the voices. I have used his pieces in my LENTCAzTs.

It is done quite differently on this disc, which brings together the music of the East with what early missionaries carried from the West.

US HERE – UK HERE – It seemed appropriate

The Gesù.  The Roman flagship of the Jesuits.  A monumental rebuke to the Protestant Revolt and confident expression of joyous Catholicism, focused on the Most Holy Name.

This is how the Church perceived herself the gifts given by God from on high.

The whole building was directed to the altar, where the priest renewed the Sacrifice of Calvary, the focus of the whole place.

So, obviously, set up something in front of the focal point of the building.

I waver between thinking about The Borg or, perhaps, the ring of power that Sauron gave to the Witch King of Angmar.

It reminds me of any number of movies where someone goes up to the cube with the glowing streak in it and, when he touches it, the ancient thing with glowing eyes and tentacles comes out and eats everyone in the room except the one who gets away to sputter the tale.

If you are going to set up something that looks like it belongs in a mini-golf course, you might as well have a strange Paschal Candle stand too.

UPDATE: One of my correspondents sent this image with the comment.

“The Gesu candle stand looks like a gyro.”

Meanwhile, on your left, the Catholic Faith Triumphs over Heresy on the right side of the tomb of St. Ignatius Loyola.   Truth is smashing Heresy and the snakes are making a slithering run for it.  Happy, intense putti lend a helpful hand by tearing up the ghastly books of the heretics.

Which heretics, you ask?

Looking across the nave you see the altar of St. Francis Xavier, with the relic of his arm that baptized so many.

In the nearby chapel, the famous Sacred Heart, so much copied.

On the other side there is a chapel dedicated to Mary’s Immaculate Conception.  It is a privileged altar.

These things in juxtaposition.  Sigh.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Jesuits, On the road, What Fr. Z is up to. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    They left the faith, they kept the room
    They cast a circle, forged in doom
    They mocked their founder’s hallowed tomb,
    They made the faithful fret and fume,
         They sold what Christ had bought.
    Out flew the hope with heightened pace;
    The altar crack’d from top to base;
    ‘We’re focused on the human race’
         Cried the Jesuits of Shalott.

  2. Gab says:

    Fr Timothy Ferguson, what an excellent piece of poetry, very apt for that ”altar”. And also sums up the last 50 years or so.

    I’ve decided that big ring above the black block is actually a transporter, in which case beam me up!

  3. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    Has anyone yet commented on how the new arrangement isn’t handicap accessible? Was cutting down all of that wood environmentally friendly? Aren’t the Jesuits supposed to be at the forefront of these things?

  4. misanthrope says:

    I thought the one ring had been destroyed in the fires of Mordor – and there it is, right above the ‘altar’!

    Looks as if Frodo has some unfinished business……

  5. TheBackPew says:

    The fissures on the sides of the altar are appropriate symbols for any one of a number of things.

  6. Ave Maria says:

    The big blob of a ‘table’ reminds me of the temple curtain torn in two…How ugly it all is. But that is the modernist false church: ugly.

  7. mo7 says:

    This is where Father gets his mojo back to the delight of the readers.

  8. surritter says:

    Ave Maria… While I agree with your sentiment about the ugliness, I can’t stand my and let you call the Church, the Bride of Christ, false.
    We have terrible leaders who are leading us astray in many aspects, but we are still that one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic body that Jesus founded!

  9. Benedict Joseph says:

    Thankfully the imagination of the liturgical deconstructionists has not developed beyond what they absorbed in their pitiful drawing and design classes from the 1950’s — it will make this derivative anomaly more easily eradicated when the restoration of faith and reason returns in a year not too many decades down the road.

  10. Dan says:

    Mary is weaponizing the cross!! Mary is so mean. Pastoral care is what those heretics need.

    That is one of my favorite statues in Rome (or anywhere) I am surprised the Jesuits have not removed it yet. So beautiful.

    Mary Destroyer of all heresies, Pray for Us

  11. newportson says:

    I immediately thought of the Ka’bah of Mecca when I saw the cube, and then with the “whirling staircase” surrounding the Jesuit Cube was even more reminded.

    It gives one the impression of looking down upon the Hajj in progress.


  12. FrNigel says:

    Well Pope Francis will certainly hate the black ring because it is inscribed with an ancient tongue.

  13. ARPugsley says:

    One of my hobbies is fictional worldbuilding, and I take great joy in designing alien/fictional religions. All that to say, that this altar is better than anything I could come up with. So kudos to the Jesuits there, I guess.

  14. David says:

    Father, regarding St. Anthony of Padua’s sermon to the fish . . . there is a wonderful orchestral lied by Gustav Mahler, “Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt”, that tells the story. Mahler used the song—minus the voice—as the third movement of his Second Symphony (the “Resurrection” Symphony). You can hear a fabulous performance of the song by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at

  15. The Egyptian says:

    the “new” altar definitely represents the Jesuits of today, CRACKED, like the order itself

  16. hilltop says:

    Perhaps the very first red velvet communion rail ever

  17. Grant M says:

    Hmmm, we need to update this church.. it’s so Council of Trent. I want a church that says Vatican 2..I know- a free-standing cubic altar like Eastern churches have- you know, to symbolize the heavenly city (Apocalypse 21:16).

    Ok, boss..

    I dunno boss, why do those altars look so right in the Eastern churches, seen through the Royal Doors and beautifully adorned…and so wrong here, stuck up here, isolated and unadorned…hmm… maybe you can’t really mix and match like this… you gotta respect the integrity and character of each building.

    Naah, you just hate Vatican 2.

    (I’m reminded of when a group of us traditional Catholics toured a remote region of our country with many beautiful old churches. And everywhere we went, in front of the original altar, built against the Eastern wall, would be some rickety coffee table plonked down a meter in front of the original altar, and hogging one’s view.

    “Why do they always do this,” groaned our priest in exasperation on one occasion, as we carefully moved the table to one side. We were tempted to chuck the thing out the back door, in the spirit of Zelus domus tuae comedit me, but out of consideration for those who had kindly allowed to use the church, we reluctantly returned the table to its former place after Mass.)

  18. Gabriel Syme says:

    Note how much of the floor space (previously occupied by seating) is taken up by these hideous new additions.

    As well as provocatively “uglifying” the building, perhaps these modifications are designed to hide the fact that ever fewer people attend the Jesuit services there? (By reducing the number of empty seats).

    A few Churches in my Archdiocese have tried this ruse. One removed half its empty pews to make a coffee and noticeboard area. Another built a suite of offices in the nave. All designed to eat up empty space and reduce the barren / empty building look.

    Anyway, the modern Jesuits are a joke who live off their former reputation – sadly that description might at times be apt for the mainstream Church in general.

  19. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Father, I see from the letter reproduced with your first post – and a look at the handy New Advent parallel Septuagint, Vulgate, and Knox translation – that the ‘corona’ (ah, that word of many meanings) is inscribed with excerpts from chapter 22 of the Apocalypse: the first two sentences of verse 17 and all of verse 20.

    And I see from the Church’s website that there is some sort of mini-conference on its architectural history (!) this evening, that can somehow be followed live online, from 6:00 p.m. local time.

  20. DvdH says:

    When I was at the Gesù on the 13th May – to visit the tomb of St Ignatius and St Francis Xavier’s arm (to pray for the current day Jesuits, of course) – the front two-thirds of the pews were blocked off, and I couldn’t visit them. Now I know why!

Comments are closed.