Visiting Seven Churches on Holy Thursday
In metropolitan areas where there are more Catholic churches, there is the popular tradition of visiting the altar of repose in seven local churches. This custom began in Rome with visiting the seven major basilicas of the city on Holy Thursday: St. Peter’s in the Vatican, St. Paul’s outside the Walls, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, St. Sebastian’s, St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, and Holy Cross in Jerusalem.
This Holy Thursday pilgrimage reflects the seven stops or “stations” during the night of Jesus’ arrest:
- Jesus in the Garden in Gethsemane where He was arrested (Luke 22:39-46)
- Jesus taken before Annas (John 18:19-22)
- Jesus bound and taken before Caiaphas, the High Priest (Matthew 26:63-65)
- Jesus taken before Pilate, the Roman governor (John 18:35-37)
- Jesus goes before Herod (Luke 23:8-9, 11)
- Jesus returns to Pilate (Matthew 27:22-26)
- Jesus is scourged, crowned with thorns and led to His crucifixion (John 19:1-16)
The previous book of indulgences, the Raccolta, included this practice. The suggested prayers were an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be, five times before the altar of the Blessed Sacrament and then some private adoration and personal prayer (reflection on the scripture passages related to the “station”) before moving on to the next church. The final church stop can also include prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions and a longer time of adoration with Jesus in the altar of repose.
The Triduum is a time that we walk in Jesus’ footsteps for His final hours on earth. Personal devotions always spring up to unite the faithful’s domestic church with the liturgy of the Church, but even more so during the holiest week of the year. Bathing, eating almonds or green food, foot washing or church visiting might be a part of personal devotion, but may any and all of it bring us closer to Christ as we begin this Sacred Triduum.A more detailed guide courtesy of the Salesian’s can be found here.