The Papal Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls is one of Rome’s four Papal basilicas, and one of the most important churches in Rome. Built by Constantine, and originally consecrated in 324 AD, the Basilica of St. Paul was the largest basilica in Rome until 1626 when St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed.
About your tour
A three-hour pilgrim excursion to the most historic shrines that honour the Apostle Saint Paul, and an in-depth look at his life and death in the capital of the Roman Empire. The Pilgrim Tour includes visits to the Mamertine Prison; the Church of San Paolo alla Regola; the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls; and the Abbey of Tre Fontane. Among the very best Catholic Tours in Rome.
Pope Benedict XVI declared 2008 the "Year of Saint Paul". St. Paul is easily recognized as one of the most prominent and significant of all the apostles and Rome, the city of his apostolic destiny, trial and martyrdom, celebrated his legacy with an extraordinary Jubilee Year. The Pilgrim Tour begins by visiting the place of Saint Paul’s imprisonment at the famous Mamertine prison, near the Roman Forum, where ancient tradition maintains that both “Princes of the Apostles”, Peter and Paul, were captive.
The next stop is at a relatively unknown location in the Jewish Quarter, where Paul lived and taught during his Roman period - the Church of San Paolo alla Regola. With a little bit of luck we may even have the opportunity to visit the room where he wrote three Books of the Bible. This site is usually not open to the public. We shall then proceed to the splendid Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls. This is the traditional burial place of Saint Paul and we shall visit his tomb. While at the basilica, as part of the pilgrim Tour Rome we will see a fascinating array of historical and religious artifacts including:
- the tabernacle of the confession by Arnolfo di Cambio
- an exquisite 12th-century candelabra by Vassalletto
- a 13th century Byzantine style apse mosaic of Christos Pantokrator, and
- an attractive 19th century series of papal portraits in a frieze extending around the nave.
We will also visit a chapel containing relics and numerous treasures and vestiges of Pauline devotion and also the Benedictine cloister with its cosmatesque decoration. Along the way we shall see many other superb works of art such as the Bronze Doors with silver inlay and the Altar of Saint Paul’s Conversion, with exquisite malachite and lapis lazuli marbles.
The last stop is the Abbey of Tre Fontane, formerly known as Aquae Salviae, where Saint Paul was martyred. This extraordinary location includes a visit to three shrines that honour the Apostle: the site where Saint Paul was beheaded, the Altar of Scala Coeli where Saint Zeno and his legionaries were martyred, and the revered monastic church of the Trappist monks who govern the Abbey. The variety and number of sites guarantee that this is among the premier Religious Tours Rome has to offer.
Top tour highlights
The Three Fountain Abbey (Tre Fontane Abby) contains three sanctuaries named Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Santa Maria Scala Coeli and Church of Saint Vincent and Saint Anastasius, and is a Roman Catholic abbey originally run by monks who were known for raising lambs for wool to weave the pallia for new archbishops.
Although not documented, by tradition, San Paolo alla Regola was founded by Pope Sylvester I in the 4th century. The church was rebuilt in in the early 18th century and is now a Baroque church dedicated to St. Paul of Rome.
The Mamertine Prison was located in the Roman Forum situated on the north-eastern slope of the Capitoline Hill, and has been used as a place of worship since medieval times.