US seminarians revive tradition of Rome’s station churches, draw ambassadors, students alike.

Every morning during the 40 days of Lent, a band of worshippers walk literally in the footsteps of early, persecuted Christians, visiting some of the world’s oldest churches in preparation for the most solemn week on the church calendar.

On Thursday as the sun rose over the cupolas and rooftops of Rome, fresh-faced American seminarians made their pilgrimage over the Tiber river and through the alleyways of Rome’s historic center to revive this ancient tradition that today draws ambassadors, college kids and ordinary folk alike.

They were heading to Sant’Apollinare, one of the “station churches” of Rome, the nearly 40 ancient churches that centuries ago were designated to hold a rotating daily Mass during Lent, the period leading to Holy Week and Easter when the faithful mark the death and resurrection of Jesus.

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