SANTA CROCE A VIA FLAMINIA – Celebrating the freedom of Christianity

– Anastasios

For Christianity, the most important event was the incarnation of Jesus. There is no doubt about this because, without the Lord Jesus, there will be no Christianity. But if we have to pick a second event that determined the sort of the Christendom, what would it be? I am quite sure that event will be what happened in 313, when the emperor Constantine gave Christians freedom of worship (and other religions) after centuries of persecution. This was established with the edict of Milan. So, at the beginning of the last century, in the year 1913, there was an idea mooted up to celebrate this anniversary. Pope Pius X who already had promoted the construction of other churches (San Camillo de Lellis, as an example), wanted to build a church in the place where, according to tradition, the emperor Constantine wanted the trumpets to be sounded to announce to the city that the persecution of Christians was over (according to other sources, the place was the one where Constantine prevailed on Massentius). This was on the Via Flaminia, a consular road that was built by Gaius Flaminius (220 AC) to connect Rome with the northern part of the empire.

The church was built by Aristide Leonori (1856-1928), using the neo-Romanesque style, which was very popular at the time. Fabrizio de Marco (in in this way described the work of Leonori for the church in via Guido Reni (the name of the street where the church actually is): “The church of S. Croce in via G. Reni (1912-13) was built at the express will of Pope Pius X in the “Roman basilica” style to celebrate the sixteenth centenary of the edict of Milan: the Leonori operated a skillful mix between the models of S. Lorenzo outside the walls for the facade, of S. Maria in Cosmedin for the bell tower and paleochristian elements for the interior, with ample collaboration of B. Biagetti for the decorative part.”

There are also several works of art in the interior of the church, which remind us about the event that took place in the year 313, like the mosaics of Biagio Biagetti already mentioned in the citation above. The church was designated as a minor Basilica by Pope Paul VI in the year 1964.

This Basilica is officiated by the Stigmatines, a religious order founded by Gaspar Bertoni in the 19th century. Indeed, this was the place where one very important Stigmatin father lived for most of his life. This man was Cornelio Fabro (1911-1995), probably the most important Thomist philosopher of the past century and the greatest expert on the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. The website called “Cornelio Fabro project”  quoted something that Father Fabro has said when talking about his philosophical research: “There seem to me to be the fundamental directions of a research, certainly modest …, to which I have tried to remain faithful over almost half a century: 1) The deepening of the metaphysical notion of participation; 2) The determination of the metaphysical essence of the modern principle of immanence as “radical atheism”; and 3) The recovery of classical-Christian realism in Kierkegaard’s metaphysical existentialism against the atheistic anthropology of modern immanence.”  Cornelio Fabro is a real giant of Catholic philosophy, considered a master among all the philosophers coming after him. He is still remembered in important conferences and publications that celebrate his important achievements and make his name never to be forgotten.