Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls

Duration: 3 hours


This itinerary offers an in-depth look at Saint Paul’s life and death in the capital of the Roman Empire.


Firstly, after an introduction to Paul’s conversion and missionary journeys, and a general overview of the basilica proper, we will visit the tomb of the Apostle. This is the traditional site of the burial place of Saint Paul (currently in the process of excavation). Tradition holds that Saint Paul was interred with Saint Peter ad Catacumbas near the via Appia until his remains and the cella memoriae errected over his grave by his followers were transferred to this present location. The site was subsequently expanded under the Emperor Valentinian I to become what is now this grandiose basilica.


Founded originally by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD, the basilica features a fascinating array of historical and religious artifacts. The finest among these include the tabernacle of the confession of Arnolfo di Cambio (1285), and the 13th century apse mosaic of the Teaching Christ — Christos Pantokrator (Ruler of All), flanked by the Apostles Peter, Paul, Andrew and Luke. In the lower section of the mosaic are the Apostles carrying scrolls with the text of Gloria in excelsis. Below the figure of Christ is a throne with the instruments of the Passion and a cross. The basilica also houses a 12th-century candelabra by Vassalletto and an attractive 19th century series of papal portraits in a frieze extending above the columns separating the four aisles and naves.


Our visit will also take us to the graceful Benedictine cloister of the monastery erected between 1220 and 1241. We will also have the opportunity to visit a chapel containing relics and numerous treasures and vestiges of Pauline devotion, the most notable being a set of chains said to be the prison chains of Saint Paul used in the last days before his execution.


Upon request we may also visit the nearby Abbey of Tre Fontane, formerly known as Aquae Salviae, the place where Saint Paul was martyred by order of the Emperor Nero (c. 67 AD). This extraordinary location, too often overlooked by visitors to Rome, consists of three shrines that honor the Apostle: firstly, the holy place where Saint Paul was beheaded, a site marked by three fountains that sprung up at the moment of his martyrdom. These fountains still flow today. The other two places comprise the Altar of Scala Coeli where Saint Zeno and his legionaries were martyred at the order of the Emperor Diocletian, and the revered monastic church of the Trappist monks who govern the Abbey.Overall, our visit to this extraordinary shrine will allow us to figuratively revisit the events that revolve around Saint Paul’s profession of faith, and learn of the struggles he had with the Roman people and their laws, leading ultimately to his execution.


Sign up today to participate in this Pauline itinerary designed especially to celebrate the “Jubilee Year of St Paul”.

Please note: The plenary indulgence is offered to pilgrims who come to Rome, to participate in events connected with the Year of Saint Paul. Our itinerary fulfils this offer and the indulgence, obtainable throughout the entirety of the Pauline Year which ends on June 29, 2009, may be obtained while visiting the Basilica. The normal requirements set by the Church for all plenary indulgences apply.


·To participate on this seminar contact SACRA SORGENTE by sending an email to sacra.sorgente@gmail.com

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