Monday, November 27, 2006

Or Is It Three Romes?

Or maybe the number of Rome's is three? I guess if we were to ask the Russian Orthodox, who have been building this church near the Russian Embassy here in Rome (I can see the golden onion dome from the top of the steps near my friary as I walk to the bus stop every morning), they might respond differently, that there are three Rome's, the Catholic Rome, the secular Rome, and the Orthodox Rome - Moscow of course. Let me explain. Rome was the capital of the Roman empire until Constantine moved the capital to Byzantium and renamed the city Constantinople. It also assumed the nick name "the second Rome." Because it was the administrative capital of the eastern empire, an empire that was Christian, the patriarch of Constantinople assumed a certain respect among the eastern Christians. When Constantinople fell in 1453, Moscow, which had become its own patriarchate in 1448 (, was considered by the Russian Orthodox as the third Rome, taking over the leadership of orthodoxy after the fall of Constantinople. Well, I don't agree since the first Rome was still the most important see and patriarchate, but I'm still glad to have the Russian Orthodox in the neighborhood, even if I joke with my OCA seminarian friend saying "there goes the neighborhood." I can't wait to see the church completed. I just hope they don't work on Roman time.

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