Our Lady of the Way

While today is the feast of Mary, Help of Christians, and the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan in China, it's also a Marian feast that my community, the Jesuits, celebrate--Our Lady of the Way or Madonna della Strada.  This was the name of the church where, in 1538, St. Ignatius and his first companions began celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, and teaching children when they arrived in Rome.  The pastor of this parish, Fr. Peter Codacio, was happy for the help and in time became the first Italian to enter the newly formed Society of Jesus.  This church was then given to the Jesuits who rented a house next door and made it the center for their ministries in Rome.  After his death in 1556 St. Ignatius was buried in front of the main altar of this church. 

Because the church was tiny and old, a new one was built--The Holy Name of Jesus or the Gesu.  All that was left of the old church was the image of Our Lady of the Way which was placed in a small chapel dedicated to her and located to the left of the main altar. 

St. Ignatius always saw himself as a pilgrim and the order he founded was designed to be mobile. It makes sense that Providence would have the first Jesuit church be one that honored our Lady of the Way.  Whenever I begin a trip
 I pray a Memorare and close with these words "Our Lady of the Way, pray for us."