Pentecost in Rome

May 27, 2012

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

– Acts 2:1-4

On this Sunday, fifty days after the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection, the Church commemorates that day when the Apostles were gathered together on the Jewish feast of Pentecost.  The liturgical color of the day is red, in memory of the fiery red of the tongues of flame that descended upon the Apostles.

In Rome, this feast is celebrated in a unique way.  One of the oldest buildings still in use in Rome is the Church St. Mary and the Martyrs, better known still by its pagan name, The Pantheon.  Originally built around 27BC as a temple to all the pagan gods of Rome, it became a Christian church in the early 7th century.  It is also unique because the light in the church is largely supplied through a giant hole in the dome structure of the roof

On this day, that hole in the roof is put to good use.  Fireman of the city of Rome climb up to the top of the main dome.  After the principal Mass of the day (around noon or so), they drop thousands and thousands of red rose petals on the people below.  It is a reminder that the Spirit continues to descend upon faithful of the Church, especially in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

Below are pictures taken from the Pantheon this Pentecost Sunday.

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