Rome Pilgrimage Day 6: Footprints of St. Paul

by Steve Ray on October 16, 2007

Videos moved to my Pilgrimage website here

After another good breakfast at the Michelangelo, we drove outside the old city walls to Tre Fontane—the place where St. Paul was beheaded 2,000 years ago out on the Via Ostia. In fact, starting on June 28, 2008 the Church will celebrate the Year of St. Paul commemorating his birth in 8 AD.  

RomeGroupSm.jpgWe walked up the tree-lined path inside the Trappist compound with the sun glimmering through the trees. This is a beautiful location far removed from the bustle of the city. We visited the Church of St. Paul’s Martyrdom where we celebrated our private Mass with Fr. Bob Roggenbuck. By the way, Fr. Bob is an excellent homilist and celebrated a reverent and beautiful Mass each day. 

(Click on picture for a larger imaage.)

We prayed at the column where Paul was executed and the three altars over the three fountains that sprang up where Paul’s head rolled down the hill. There was a great picture in the sacristy which you will see in the video. I also took about 8 minutes to tell a short version of Paul’s life story which can be seen in the separate video below. The Trappists make wines and beers which everyone enjoyed looking at and buying. 

Then we toured the magnificent Patriarchal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Below the high altar is the tomb of St. Paul, just rediscovered within the year. Everyone was able to go below the altar to see the section of the sarcophagus that is exposed. 

The church is lined with the famous medallions—the portraits of all the popes from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. There are also marvelous paintings of the life of St. Paul lining the walls of the nave and the transepts. There is a side chapel devoted to St. Stephen because St. Augustine said that without the prayers of St. Stephen we would have never had St. Paul. 

Since we had time, and because I wanted the pilgrims to walk in the footprints of the centuries of pilgrims before them, we went to the Church of St. Lorenzo (Lawrence) which commemorates the martyrdom of St. Lawrence the Deacon who was roasted to death. When they place him on the grill he said to his executioners “You can turn me over now; I am done on this side!” Under the high altar of St. Lawrence are the bones of St. Lawrence, St. Stephen the first martyr, and Justin Martyr. 

There are four Patriarchal Basilicas which are included in the seven pilgrimage churches in Rome. The four basilicas are St. Peters, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran. These make up the pilgrimage churches along with Santa Croce in Gerusalame (Holy Cross of Jerusalem), San Sebastian, and St. Lawrence. 

Their were two choices this afternoon: either free time, or an optional walking tour of Rome with Steve and Janet to eat lunch and to visit the Column of the Immaculate Conception, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the 2nd century Column of Marcus Aurelius, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona (gelato and cappachino), and the Church of St. Agostino (St. Augustine) with a Caravaggio painting, the tomb of St. Monica (mother of St. Augustine) and more.  

We then crossed the Tiber River again and headed to St. Peters and back to our hotel. Many people scattered to continue exploring and shopping on their own. We all had dinner again at La Pilotta.

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