Saint Paul Outside the Walls: a UNESCO Basilica in Rome

Roma - Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura 12

Roma – Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura 12 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wa...

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tomb of St. Paul Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – la tomba di san Paolo Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła Apostoła (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Italiano: Roma, basilica di san Paolo fuori le...

Italiano: Roma, basilica di san Paolo fuori le mura: candelabro pasquale (Pietro Vassalletto e Nicola d’Angelo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

San Paolo Fuori le Mura was erected in the 4th century.  It  is one of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome built at the request of Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of  Paul the Apostle.The big mosaic of the facade of Saint Paul out...

Front of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside th...

Front of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls – Roma – Italy. Italiano: Facciata della Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura a Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apse mosaic of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outs...

Saint Paul Outside the Walls is sometimes called the “Basilica Ostiense” because it is located on the Ostian Way. Paul the Apostle was brought to Rome as a prisioner. He was martyred between the years 64 and 67, during the persecution of Emperor Nero. His body was claimed by a Roman woman who buried it in her family tomb near a vineyard on the road to Ostia. Emperor Constantine placed the Apostle’s body in a bronze sarcophagus with a marble slab over  it. At the request of Emperor Constantine in 324,  a basilica was built over St. Paul’s tomb.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome...

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – interior Polski: Wnętrze bazyliki św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – interno (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This first edifice was expanded under Valentinian I in about 370. Since many pilgrims came to visit the site, Emperor Valentine II made plans for a larger building. Emperor Theodosius began the new building and Emperor Honorius completed it.

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Wa...

English: Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tabernacle of the confession Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – ciborio di Arnolfo di Cambio Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła, przykryty gotyckim baldachimem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rom, Sankt Paul vor den Mauern, San Paolo fuor...

Rom, Sankt Paul vor den Mauern, San Paolo fuori le mura Italiano: Statua di San Paolo di fronte alla facciata della Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura a Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pope Leo III, further embellished the building and it became the largest and most beautiful church in Rome under his papacy.  Of all the churches of Rome, this one preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. In 1823 it was almost completely destroyed by a fire.

St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome

In 1823,  it was rebuilt and enlarged by the architect Poletti and modified by Guglielmo Calderini. It was completed in 1854.

Roma - Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura - resti

Roma – Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura – resti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portrait of Pope Honorius I in the Basilica of...

Portrait of Pope Honorius I in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Rome Italiano: Ritratto di Papa Onorio I nella Basilica di San Paolo fuori la Mura, Roma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Necropolis of Saint Paul outside the Walls in Rome

The interior of the current basilica has 80 monolithic columns of Montorfano granite divided into five naves. On the upper part of the walls, frescoes illustrate scenes from the life of St Paul.  Against the internal wall of the facade there are six large alabaster columns presented by the Viceroy of Egypt to Gregory XVI.

St. Paul Outside the Walls Frescoes in Rome

Saint Paul Outside the Walls is located at the site where Paul was executed and buried.

Tomb of Saint Paul in Rome

It is located outside the Aurelian Walls. The the basilica was damaged during the Saracen invasions in the 9th century. Pope John VIII (872–882) fortified the basilica and the monastery forming the town of Joannispolis (Giovannipoli) which existed until 1348, when an earthquake totally destroyed the town.

Fortified Walls in Rome

Map of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

Interior of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome

The Basilica was founded where his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. In the chapel of the relics, lie the chains that bound Paul the Apostle when he was improsioned in Rome In the 5th century, this church was larger than the Old St. Peter’s Basilica.

The front of the basilica has ten monolithic columns of red Baveno granite. A huge statue of St. Paul dominates the entrance to the new building. The inscription on the base of the statue says “To the preacher of truth, the teacher of nations”.

Facade of Saint Paul Outside the Walls

The facade mosaic is the work of Filippo Agricola and Nicola Consoni. In the typanum, Christ is seated in the center giving his blessing. On his right side is Saint Peter and on his left side is St. Paul. Below the Lamb of God, the four rivers of Paradise flow. Twelve sheep represent the Apostles who approach the Lamb from the holy cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Here’s a Virtual Tour of the entrance and central courtyard: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Courtyard/index.html

Facade Mosaic

It was rebuilt by the architect Poletti and reconsecrated 1855 with the presence of Pope Pius IX and fifty cardinals. Many countries made contributions to the reconstruction efforts: the Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, the Emperor of Russia sent precious malachite and lapis lazuli for the tabernacle.

Saint Paul

In the right corner there is a statue of St. Luke the Evangelist. Saint Paul is in the front of the basilica.

Saint Luke

Under the portico, the wall niches have statues of St. Peter and St. Paul by Gregorio Zappala.

Popes Leo XII, Pius VIII and Gregory XVI, personally oversaw the reconstruction of the church. In 1854 Pope Pius IX was able to celebrate the completion of the reconstruction.

Under Pope Gregory the Great (590–604), the basilica was extensively modified. He had the pavement was raised to place the altar directly over Paul’s tomb. The tomb is covered by a Gothic baldachino by Adolfo di Cambio completed in 1285.

Tomb of St. Paul

Here’s a virtual tour of St. Paul’s Tomb http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Tomb/index.html. To make a portion of the tomb visible to religious pilgrims, the floor was lowered forming a confessio where people can pray. Directly below the altar, a grill-covered window reveals the stone sarcophagus. Carbon dating of the contents of the tomb indicated that the remains in the sarcophagus are from someone who lived in the first or second century indicating that they are the remains of the apostle.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome...

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tabernacle of the confession Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – ciborio di Arnolfo di Cambio Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła, przykryty gotyckim baldachimem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over Saint Paul’s tomb, Arnolfo di Cambio‘s Gothic  tabernacle is resting on four porphyry columns.  The four cornices above the niches of the baldachin have statues of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Timothy and Saint Bartholomew.  Excavations located a first century tomb with a marble slab covering it with the Latin inscription “Paulo Apostolo Mart”. You can see a plaster copy of the slab in the Church Museum located off of the cloister.

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome...

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) – the tabernacle of the confession Italiano: Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura (Roma) – ciborio di Arnolfo di Cambio Polski: Bazylika św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie – grób św. Pawła, przykryty gotyckim baldachimem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Paul’s Tabernacle

Arnolfo di cambio

Arnolfo di cambio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

St. Peter statue by Arnolfo di Cambio inside t...

St. Peter statue by Arnolfo di Cambio inside the Vatican Basilica, dressed with a vestment on St. Peter and Paul feast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arnolfo di Cambio also created the bronze Saint Peter statue in St. Peter’s Basillica and the ptesepe in the lower level of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Italiano: Presepe di Arnolfo di Cambio. Basili...

Italiano: Presepe di Arnolfo di Cambio. Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Roma, Italia . English: Manger by Arnolfo di Cambio, Rome, Santa Maria Maggiore, Italy . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

San Paolo Fuori le Mura’s interior has 80 monolithic columns of Montorfano granite from the isolated mountain on Lake Maggiore. It is divided into five naves. Above the arches over the granite columns, all the way around the interior of the Basilica, there are circular mosaic portraits of all the Popes, from the first to the present.  Only the current pope’s portrait is illuminated.  According to legend, when this Basilica runs out of space for these portraits of the popes, the world will end.

Statue of St. Paul Apostle in the Basilica San...

Statue of St. Paul Apostle in the Basilica San Paolo fuori le Mura (Rome) Polski: Figura św. Pawła Apostoła w bazylice Świętego Pawła za Murami w Rzymie Italiano: Statua di San Paolo Apostolo nella Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura a Roma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the upper part of the walls, between the large windows,  there are 36 frescoes with the scenes from the life of St Paul. Against the internal wall of the facade there are six large alabaster columns presented by the Viceroy of Egypt to Gregory XVI.

Roma - Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura - 9

Roma – Basilica di San Paolo fuori le mura – 9 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a virtual tour of the central nave of the  basilica http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Nave/index.html

In the Apse, there is a mosaic from 1220 showing a majestic Christ wearing imperial colors with St. Paul and St. Luke on his right and St. Peter and St. Andrew on his left. Chirst is holding a book that says “Come blessed of my Father and receive the kingdom prepared for you.”

Apse Mosaic

The palm trees represent paradise. The papal chair has a relief of Christ instucting Peter to feed the sheep.

Jesus

Saint Peter and Saint Andrew

St. Paul and St. Luke in Rome

Here’s a virtual tour of the Apse http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Apse/index.html

Portrait of Honorius III - Detail of the apse ...

Portrait of Honorius III – Detail of the apse mosaic of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (1220) – Roma – Italy Pope Honorius III ordered the mosaic and, following the Roman Catholic tradition, is represented near Christ’s feet. Pope Honorius III (1148 – 1227), born Cencio Savelli, was Pope from 1216 to 1227. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Honorius_III (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 You can see Hononius III at the foot of Jesus is the apse mosaic.
The graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241. The spiral columns of the cloister were built by the Vassalletto family in 1214 and survived the fire.
Cloister of the monastery of San Paolo fuori l...

Cloister of the monastery of San Paolo fuori le mura (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a virtual tour of the lovely rose garden in the Cloister: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Cloister/index.html
The death of St. Paul - relief on the doors of...

The death of St. Paul – relief on the doors of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome) Italiano: La morte do san Paolo – rilievo sulla porta della Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura a Roma Polski: Śmierć św. Pawła – płaskorzeźba znajdująca się na drzwiach Bazyliki św. Pawła za Murami w Rzymie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From 1215 until 1964 this was the seat of the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria. The Holy Door was last opened in 2000 and there is a large plaque above the door commemorating the event.

The Holy Door

The Holy Door (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The door pictured below on the right, is the work of Antonia Maraini and was cast in Florence in 1931. The cross on the bronze door is highlighted in silver and the horizontal bar bears the names of the evangelists. The verticle potion of the cross, has portraits of the Apolstles. The panels on the door depict scenes from the life of Saint Peter on the left and Saint Paul on the right. The figure of Christ shows him giving the keys to Saint Peter.

Holy Door

Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Silver

Visit the Pinocoteca with “Flagellation” by Bramante and other interesting works of art and tour the interesting Museum http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/Media/VR/St_Paul_Museum/index.html.

See some of the fragments of the original basilica. Then stop at the where you can enjoy a Vino con Vista.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides. To learn more about Rome visit www.vino-con-vista.com

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Filed under Bernini Baldacchino, Churches in Rome, ebooks, Emperor Constantine, Holy Week in Rome, IPad, Italian Architecture, Italian art, Italy ravel, Italy Travel Guides, Pope Alexander VII, Pope Julius II, Renaissance Art, Renaissance Artists, Roman Architecture, Roman Emperors, Rome History, Rome Italy, Sacred Art in Rome, Saint Paul the Apostle, Saint Peter, San Paolo Fuori le Mura, St. Peter's Basilica, The church of Saint Paul Outside the Aurelian Walls, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized, UNESCO, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Rome

6 responses to “Saint Paul Outside the Walls: a UNESCO Basilica in Rome

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