On this Second Sunday of Advent, the liturgy focuses on Jerusalem, the mystery represented by the ancient Roman stational church. Stational churches are those churches in Rome designated on given days during Advent and Lent, and on the great festivals of the year, as the destination of a solemn procession and the place of the Pope’s solemn Mass. On the day of a stational Mass the faithful would assemble in one church — that of the collecta or gathering — and then go in procession, singing the Litanies of the Saints, antiphons, and psalms, to the church where the Bishop of Rome, surrounded by his clergy and throngs of the faithful, would celebrate the Holy Mysteries.
These stational Masses were, in fact, the great manifestations of the Eucharistic unity of the City and of the world, Urbis et Orbis. In recent years there has been a revival of interest in the stational churches, and this for two reasons. First: one cannot really understand the choice of the antiphons and other texts of a given Mass without referring to the particular context, the stational church, that inspired them. The texts