Tomorrow is the Feast of the Founder of the Passionists, Saint Paul of the Cross. Father Gary has put up lots of interesting and useful information and links at The Passionist Charism. To mark the Feast, I thought I would post some pictures of a building I was able to visit for the first time when I was in Rome earlier this month: the Hospice of the Trinity for Convalescents and Pilgrims.
The Hospice and its Confraternity were founded by Saint Philip Neri to care for poor pilgrims and those who were recovering from illness. It grew to be one of the biggest buildings in Rome. Saint Paul of the Cross stayed here on his first visit to Rome in September 1721. Here is an engraving by Giuseppe Vasi of the Hospice and the adjoining Church of the Most Holy Trinity. The eighteenth-century engraver Vasi was a contemporary of Saint Paul of the Cross and the teacher of Piranesi.
After the unification of Italy, most of the Hospice was converted into apartments. For many years, the remaining buildings were virtually closed to the public. I had tried on a number of occasions to visit the Church and what remains of the Hospice, but without success.
However, the status of the buildings has now changed, with the Church being entrusted to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter as a personal parish. I went to see the Church with Father Lawrence Rywalt C.P., hoping to be able to see something of the Hospice too.
We could not go in the main door of the Hospice; this leads to the Great Hall where pilgrims were welcomed and fed. The Great Hall is now used by the Sant’Egidio Community. I hope to be able to visit it some time in the future.
We introduced ourselves to the Parish Priest, Father Joseph Kramer FSSP, who is Australian. Father Kramer, who in a short time has acquired an impressive knowledge of the history of the buildings, brought us through the Sacristy to visit those parts of the Hospice which are open to his community.
The picture below and the previous one give a sense of what the building must have been like when Saint Paul of the Cross stayed there.
Here is Father Lawrence climbing the staircase to what was the dormitory area. The Crucifix at the top of the stairs was there in the time of Saint Paul of the Cross.
Here is what Saint Vincent Mary Strambi writes about Paul’s stay at the Hospice:
He lodged that night with the other pilgrims in the Hospice of the Trinity, where Christian charity is exercised in such perfection, and reigns with so visible a spirit. Going with the rest to the washing of the feet, it happened that the person who was to perform that charitable office, was a great cardinal, Monsignor Tolomei, of happy memory, who constantly undertook this lowly employment, to the great edification of all who saw him. We can easily imagine the confusion of poor Paul, who, in his humility deemed himself worthy of nothing but contempt, especially when the holy prince, having washed his feet, offered him an alms. He, believing himself sufficiently rich with his trust in God, meekly refused the gift, and besought his eminence to bestow it on another, that thus it might benefit the poor.
This last picture is a detail from a painting in the Confraternity Room showing the members of the Confraternity in their red robes serving the poor pilgrims in the Great Hall while Saint Philip Neri, wearing an apron over his cassock, welcomes all.