Sunday, April 24, 2016

7 Pilgrimage Churches of Rome #7

It was a very long walk by the time I reached number 7. I was becoming quite exhausted. But when I passed through security and stepped into Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura, it absolutely took my breath away! It was as if I had stepped into so fairy tale palace that someone could only dream about, but that could never really exist. The place is phenomenal and there really are no words to describe it. Pictures can never fully tell the story either.

To get there most of the way I was walking on Via delle Sette Chiese (Way of the seven churches) after leaving the ancient Appian Way. That path alone was magical.

This church was originally built by Emperor Constantine in honor of St Paul who was beheaded in this area about two miles outside the Roman walls. The remains of St Paul were removed from the catacombs and are now kept at this site beneath the altar. The original church was mostly destroyed by fire in 1823. But through artists and donors around the world it has been restored to be much like the original church.

It was absolutely well worth the long walk. Truly an extraordinary sanctuary.

7 Pilgrimage Churches of Rome #6

Number 6 is the beautiful Basilica di San Sabastiano Fuori le Mura. This area just outside the city walls of Rome was used as a burial place and there are many catacombs throughout the area. St Sabastian was an officer in the Roman army. Horrified at the persecution of Christians at that time, he was converted and smuggled Christians into the catacombs to protect them. He was executed once this practice was discovered. This church was built in his honor.

7 Pilgrimage Churches of Rome #5

The fifth church, Basilica di San Giovanni Laterano was one of the more spectacular of the ones I visited today. It was built at the site of the first Christian church in Rome.

The church is dedicated to both St John the Evangelist and St John the Baptist.

This church has great significance in the life of St Francis. It was here that he was first interviewed by Pope Innocent III, which led to approval of the Franciscan Order.

7 Pilgrimage Churches of Rome #4

I arrived at the 4th church, Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme just as mass was starting. I had really hoped to be able to attend mass somewhere along the way since today is Sunday. Of course I didn't under a lot of what was being said, but mass is the same in Amy language. I hoped that I didn't look too ragged after my fairly long walk in the wind.

The interior of this church was gorgeous. The church contains a relic believed to be part of the original cross on which Jesus was crucified.

7 Pilgrimage Churches of Rome #3

The third church along the pilgrim route is the lovely Basilica di San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura. This church is dedicated to the memory of St Lorenzo who was instructed by Pope Sixtus to sell many riches of the church and give to the poor.

Lorenzo was arrested and when requested to return the church's treasures, he brought the true treasures, a collection of paupers and beggars. The story says he was punished by roasting him to death over hot coals!

7 Pilgrimage Churches of Rome #2

The second of the 7 Pilgrimage Churches route is the magnificent Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A church dedicated to the Virgin Mary has stood on this site since the fifth century.

The crypt contains what is venerated as part of the original manger of Bethlehem.

7 Pilgrimage Churches of Rome #1

Now that I've reached The Vatican and completed the Via di Francesco Pilgrimage, I decided to also visit the 7 Pilgrimage churches of Rome. The first one is St Peter's Basilica. I received my Testimonium there of course. But I also explored it thoroughly. First the walk through the Holy Door. Then the long walk up all 551 steps to the top of the dome. The grotto of the tombs was closed but I've have been there on previous trips. I could have taken hundreds of pictures but I will just add a few here. There is no way to really capture the majesty of St Peter's with a camera.