On April 26, the evening before the canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, English speaking pilgrims from across the globe will gather at San Marco al Campidoglio in Rome. The Church is one of 11 Roman parishes that will hold prayer vigils ahead of the canonizations. In addition to the parish dedicated for English-speaking pilgrims, San Angese in Agone will have a vigil in Polish; San Anastasia in Portuguese; Santissimo Nome di Gesu all’Argentina in Spanish; San Andrea della Valle in French; and San Bartolomeo all’Isola Tiberina in Arabic. A further six parishes will hold vigils for Italian speakers. Each prayer vigil will include the opportunity for Confession, and will begin at 9 p.m. on April 26. They follow a 6 p.m. vigil at the Basilica of St. John Lateran being held for pilgrims from Bergamo, the home diocese of John XXIII. San Marco al Campidoglio is located on the Piazza San Marco, and is the only parish in Rome dedicated to St. Mark the Evangelist. It was constructed in the fourth century by Pope St. Mark, whose relics are located under the altar along with those of the martyrs Abdon and Sennen. It was rebuilt in the fifth and eighth centuries, and was restored in the ninth after it was flooded when the Tiber burst its banks. A bell tower in the Romanesque style was added in the 12th century. San Marco was again restored by its cardinal-priest, Pietro Barbo, who was elected Pope in 1464. Cardinal Barbo, who took the name Paul II, was a native of Venice and declared it the national church of Venetians in Rome. It was later given a baroque interior, which was completed in the 1750s under its cardinal-priest, Angelo Maria Quirini. San Marco retains ninth century mosaics in its apse, in which Pope Gregory IV is shown being presented to Christ by St. Mark the Evangelist. The mosaic was commissioned by Gregory IV, who was responsible for its restoration at the time. In the mosaic, the Pope is shown with a square halo, showing that he was alive at the time of the mosaic’s production, and he is holding a church, symbolizing his care in restoring the flooded building. San Marco is both a titular parish for cardinals, a minor basilica, and the station church for the Monday of the Third Week in Lent. It has been a titular church since at least the 12th century, and is traditionally given to the Patriarch of Venice; several of its cardinal-priests have been elected Pope, including Albino Luciani, who in 1978 was elected as John Paul I. Its current cardinal-priest is Marco Ce, who was Patriarch of Venice from 1979 to 2002.
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