Sunday, April 24, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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!
The crypt contains what is venerated as part of the original manger of Bethlehem.