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St. Paul at Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Rome

St. Paul at Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Rome


Paul the Apostle (Paulos, c.5 – c. 67), original name Saul of Tarsus, was a Christian missionary who took the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. He is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age. In the mid-30s to the mid-50s, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Paul used his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to advantage in his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences.

A native of Tarsus, the capital city in the Roman province of Cilicia, Paul wrote that he was "a Hebrew born of Hebrews", a Pharisee, and one who advanced in Judaism beyond many of his peers. He zealously persecuted the early followers of Jesus of Nazareth and violently tried to destroy the newly forming Christian church. Paul's dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus radically changed the course of his life.

Neither the Bible nor other sources say how or when Paul died, but Ignatius, probably around 110, writes that Paul was martyred. Christian tradition holds that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s at Tre Fontane Abbey (Three Fountains Abbey). By comparison, tradition states that Peter, who was not a Roman citizen, was given the more painful death of being crucified upside-down.


The basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of Saint Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle's execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. This first edifice was expanded under Valentinian I in the 370s.

In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began erecting a much larger and more beautiful basilica with a nave and four aisles with a transept; the work including the mosaics was not completed until Leo I's pontificate (440–461). In the 5th century it was larger than the Old St. Peter's Basilica. The Christian poet Prudentius, who saw it at the time of emperor Honorius (395–423), describes the splendours of the monument in a few expressive lines. As it was dedicated also to Saints Taurinus and Herculanus, martyrs of Ostia in the 5th century, it was called the basilica trium Dominorum ("basilica of Three Lords").

Under Gregory the Great (590–604) the basilica was extensively modified. The pavement was raised to place the altar directly over Paul's tomb. A confession permitted access to the Apostle's sepulcher.

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

The graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241. From 1215 until 1964 it was the seat of the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria.

On 15 July 1823 a fire, started through the negligence of a workman who was repairing the lead of the roof, resulted in the almost total destruction of the basilica which, alone of all the churches of Rome, had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. It was re-opened in 1840, and reconsecrated 1855 with the presence of Pope Pius IX and fifty cardinals.

According to tradition, Paul's body was buried two miles away from the place of his martyrdom, in the sepulchral area along the Ostiense Way, which was owned by a Christian woman named Lucina. A tropaeum was erected on it and quickly became a place of veneration.

Constantine I erected a basilica on the tropaeum's site, and the basilica was significantly extended by Theodosius I from 386, into what is now known as Saint Paul Outside the Walls. During the 4th century, Paul's remains, excluding the head, were moved into a sarcophagus. According to church tradition the head rests at the Lateran. Paul's tomb is below a marble tombstone in the Basilica's crypt, at 1.37 metres (4.5 ft) below the altar. The tombstone bears the Latin inscription PAULO APOSTOLO MART ("to Paul the apostle and martyr"). The inscribed portion of the tombstone has three holes, two square and one circular. The circular hole is connected to the tomb by a pipeline, reflecting the Roman custom of pouring perfumes inside the sarcophagus, or to the practice of providing the bones of the dead with libations. The sarcophagus below the tombstone measures 2.55 metres (8.4 ft) long, 1.25 metres (4.1 ft) wide and 0.97 metres (3.2 ft) high.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_of_Tarsus



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Saint_Paul_Outside_the_Walls

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