Monday, March 16, 2009

Massimo Miracle Day

The Massimo family is one of Rome's oldest noble families and every year on this day they open their beautiful, ancient palazzo to the public for Masses commemorating the miracle of St. Philip Neri.

The story is one of the happiest of the St. Philip stories.

One of the Massimo princes took ill and died without the sacraments and St. Philip was called in to see what could be done. The saint raised the boy back to life, heard his confession and asked him if he wanted to remain among the living or be allowed to die. The young prince said, if it was all the same, he would rather be allowed to go to heaven. He duly did so.

Since that day, the Massimo family, one of Rome's oldest and most noble, as well as most Catholic, families, have opened their palazzo to the public for Masses commemorating the event.

A liveried footman meets guests at the door. We are ushered politely into the atrium.

The palazzo is full to busting with art

of every period of the western world,

The family living quarters, which they kindly allow people to troop through by the hundreds, have a lovely and noble quality of combined splendour and lived-in dilapidation. It is ancient, beautiful, magnificent and homey and comfortable at the same time.

The family claims to trace its lineage to one of the ancient families of Imperial Rome, who in their turn claimed to trace their ancestry to the demi-god Hercules, whose statue is in front of the door.

John Sonnen, who got there ahead of me, on the piano nobile.

Frescoes and Massimo ancestors.

Dignitaries arrive with their entourages...

and are kindly escorted up to the family floor and the chapel.

The family chapel is the room in which the young prince Paolo Massimo was raised from the dead and then took his leave of his family to go to heaven.

Because of the importance of Philip as "second apostle of Rome" and the Massimo family, the Mass for this day is one granted by the Holy See as a special local feast. We got there just as the high Mass was concluding, celebrated by Archbishop Burke, the head of the Apostlic Signatura. He's a wonderfully polite and gracious man whom I was pleased and privileged to greet again, and was even more pleased to introduce to the parocco of Ssma. Trinita.

1 comment:

Mark S. Abeln said...

Molto bella!