Today (November 23) is the memorial of St. Clement, fourth bishop of Rome, so it was a good day to visit his church here in Rome.
The Basilica of San Clemente is a beautiful and fascinating structure – a 12th century church built on top of a 4th century basilica, built atop pagan Roman structures. The brilliant mosaic presenting the Cross as the Tree of Life is one of the most evocative, delicate pieces of religious art you will see.
The church has been celebrating the saint over the past day and will continue to tomorrow. We visited late this afternoon as preparations for Mass were underway. We visited the church and the excavations, went to get something to eat around the block, and returned for the procession. I didn’t get the very beginning on film, but my friend caught it in a picture – a rather spectacular curtain of sparklers/fireworks.
A police or military band of some sort led the procession, followed by the relics of San Clemente, Dominicans (the church is staffed by Irish Dominicans), a bishop and others. Here’s some video from the beginning of the procession, and then the end.
After the procession had entered the church, the band decamped to the market around the corner and played for a while. Here’s a bit of that.
It was all really something to see.
(The Mass was probably wonderful, too – we heard the schola practicing beforehand. But staying would have been too much for my crew today.)