By Scot Landry
The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls is the second largest Church in Rome (St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest).
It was built in the first-half of the fourth century by the emperor Constantine. It remained practically intact until 1823 when it was almost destroyed by a terrible fire. The rebuilding of the Church over the next 100 years substantially kept a lot of the original elements.
Here is a link to the Vatican’s website on this Basilica with additional historical information:
You arrive in a beautiful square courtyard that is centered on a statue of St. Paul. I have always loved this entrance into this Basilica. It was designed to have you “leave the outside world” and to put you in a good mood to enter the Basilica. It has always done that for me.
George and I put together this brief video message when we were in the courtyard.
The Church today has 80 marble columns that divide the Church into the nave and four aisles. Some friends love the simplicity of this Church compared to the other 3 Patriarchal Basilicas. Some like it less because of the simplicity. What is your view? My own appreciation for this Basilica grows each time I visit.
One of my most favorite aspects of this Basilica is the 265 portraits of the Popes from St. Peter all the way to Pope Benedict XVI. I wonder how many weeks it will take to have the new portrait of Pope Francis.
The most important, and the most beautiful part of the experience of visiting this Basilica is to pray near the bones of St. Paul and to view the chains that bound him when he was in prison.
Here is a brief silent video that I took of praying in the confessio.
The Sarcophagus of St. Paul
St. Paul is one of the most fascinating figures in all of Christian history. He was one of the great persecutors of the early Christians. Then he had a massive conversion on the road to Damascus, and became the “Apostle to the Gentiles” (all the world’s non-Jews at the time). From one of the biggest persecutors, he became one of the most active evangelizers in the history of Christianity. Through his preaching, letters and witness, much of the world came to know of the person of Jesus Christ and God’s saving and redeeming love.
It should remind us that no matter how far we think we might be from God, through His Grace, we can still do beautiful things to help people know Christ.
Here’s a link to the Vatican’s website on the life of St. Paul:
There are many other beautiful aspects of this Basilica:
My love for the beauty of this Church has grown over the last 5 years, despite having not visited this Basilica since 2006. That’s because it is featured so prominently in the beautiful “Epic” video from CatholicsComeHome.org. I think this video is one of the best 2-minute descriptions of the Catholic Church ever done. See if you can see the scenes from St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in the commercial, which has been an instrument that God has used to plant the seed for many to return home to the Church.
CatholicsComeHome.org – “Epic”
Thank you for visiting this blog for our special coverage here from Rome at TheGoodCatholicLife.com. George’s photos can be viewed at www.BostonCatholicPhotos.com.
Scot Landry and George Martell