The Forty Hours’ Devotion Machine in Santa Maria dell’Orto in Rome: candles for Maundy Thursday

Every year, for centuries, 213 candles have lit up the church of Santa Maria dell’Orto in Trastevere, Rome.

The brothers of the confraternity of the same name, founded by pope Alexander VI in 1492, keep alive the 17th-century tradition of the “Macchina delle Quarantore” (Forty Hours’ Devotion Machine), with what is said to be the last intact device of its kind.

The “Machine” – in this case, a 19th-century wooden structure enriched with Baroque floral decorations – is a symbol of Jesus’s tomb, and set up on the major altar of the 16th-century church after the evening mass held on the first day of the Paschal Triduum.

The evocative lights remind us of the poem great Roman author Trilussa, born Carlo Alberto Salustri (1871-1950), dedicated to a humble candle: “In front of a Church’s Cross / a lit candle / is consumed by love and faith. / It gives all its light, / all the heat it has, / without considering that the fire / wears it out and lessens it little by little. / If you don’t burn, you don’t live. How beautiful / is the flame of a consuming love, / as long you are convinced that’s true! / I watch and ponder. The small flame quivers, / the wax drips, and smoke comes from the wicker” (Davanti ar Crocifisso d’una Chiesa / una Candela accesa / se strugge da l’amore e da la fede. / Je dà tutta la luce, / tutto quanto er calore che possiede, / senza abbadà se er foco / la logra e la riduce a poco a poco. / Chi nun arde nun vive. Com’è bella / la fiamma d’un amore che consuma,/ purché la fede resti sempre quella! / Io guardo e penso. Trema la fiammella, / la cera cola e lo stoppino fuma… ).

This year, as has happened for centuries, the solitary candle Trilussa celebrated will be in good company until midnight on Maudy Thursday.

Photos via:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/98006203
https://www.flickr.com/photos/acivodul/4679529558
https://www.flickr.com/photos/orto

Roma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'OrtoRoma, Macchina delle Quarantore, Santa Maria dell'Orto

The Forty Hours’ Devotion Machine in Santa Maria dell’Orto in Rome: candles for Maundy Thursday

Roma
Via Anicia, 10
+39 06 58301874

WEEKLY POSTCARD

Most Read

The Great War Museum: history at high altitude

Author: Barbara PalladinoTranslation by Michelle NebioloOn the top of the Marmolada, at 3,000 meters of altitude, you’ll find the Marmolada Great War...

Palazzo Giordano Apostoli: neo-gothic inspiration

Palazzo Giordano Apostoli is located in Sassari’s central Piazza d’Italia. It was built by will of Giuseppe Giordano Apostoli in 1877, in...

Move To The Top takes you to the roof of the Dolomites

Author: Barbara PalladinoTranslation by Michelle Nebiolo On 4 July 2020, the cableway to Malga Ciapèla will re-open. Its short,...

Tenute La Montina, the realm of Franciacorta

Author: Barbara PalladinoTranslation by Michelle NebioloTenute La Montina is located in Monticelli Brusati (BS), in the north-east of Franciacorta, next to an ample...