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The Seven Station Churches of Rome

About Philip Neri and the Seven Station Pilgrimage:

To appreciate the tradition it is useful to understand a bit about the founder:  Saint Phillip Neri.  Born into noble family in Florence in 1515, Philip  left everything behind to become a missionary. At this time in history, Rome was in chaos, the faith was weak there was corruption in the Church, and the protestant reformation had begun.

Against this background, in 1553  Neri drew up an  one-day pilgrimage itinerary  starting at Saint Peter’s Basilica and ending at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Each of these churches signified one of the seven events leading up to the death of Jesus on the Cross. At each church, there would be prayer, hymn singing, and a brief sermon by Neri.  Covering about 12 miles, it is still a goal for many who are visiting Rome.  This famous route is also followed by those visiting the San Lorenzo Center for young people visiting Rome.

Each of the seven churches became associated with one of the events of the Passion of Jesus:

1) Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46)
2) Jesus before Annas (John 18:19-22)
3) Jesus before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:63-65)
4) Jesus before Pilate (John 18:35-37)
5) Jesus before Herod (Luke 23:8-9; 11)
6) Jesus before Pilate again (Matthew 27:22-26)
7) Jesus’s crucifixion and death (Matthew 27:27-31)

These pilgrimages were not designed to be solemn events, but designed to share a common religious experience.  He and a few friends and acquaintances would gather before dawn and set out on their walk.

The Mattei family, one of the most powerful families in Rome,  opened their grounds for pilgrims to rest and provided them with bread, wine, cheese, eggs, apples, and salami.  Musicians would play and singers would perform during these breaks..


Those participating can also earn an indulgence under the usual conditions, and are asked to pray for specific intentions. These include praying for the penance of sins, the amendment of lukewarmness and negligence in the service of God, in thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins, for the pope and the Church, for sinners still in the darkness of an evil life, for the conversion of heretics, schismatics, and infidels, and for the holy souls in purgatory.

Click here for a great book by George Weigel and Elizabeth Lev:  “Roman Pilgrimage, the Station Churches”

Note:  there is a tradition of Lenten Station Churches, which are different from the churches listed here.


The Seven Station Churches of Rome are as follows:

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Saint Mary Major

Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls

Saint John Lateran

Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem

Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls

Sanctuary of Divine Love*

  • in 2000 Pope John Paul II replaced one of the earlier station churches, the  Basilica of Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls with the Sanctuary of Divine Love.


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