Tuesday, January 23, 2007

St. Paul's Basilica (Burial Site) and Three Fountains (Execution Site)

After spending the morning at the Vatican we journeyed just outside the city limits to two of the sites I was really looking forward to; the execution and burial locations of Paul. It was much more intense than I was expecting. Probably because for the previous 3 weeks we had been recreating his every step, reading passages from the Bible in their cities of destination or origin, and these two locatoins are where it all ended.

While visiting these two sites the irony was not lost on me that Paul started out as a persecutor of Christians and then died as a persecuted Christian. I wonder if this would have been some form of closure for him for the guilt he surely felt at times?

These are the stones Paul walked on from his holding cell as he was marched to his execution spot.

This monument stands over the spot that church tradition says he was executed at. Because Paul was a Roman citizen, he couldn't be crucified. (Peter was not a Roman citizen.) Therefore he was beheaded which was seen as much more humane.

Church tradition says that Paul's head bounced three timies and in each location a fountain sprang up. There is an altar like this one in each of those three locations. (Paul's execution location is now a monastery). Considering that these fountains are about 30 feet apart from each other I'd say that it'd be just about impossible for this to be true, but it's interesting non-the-less.

After his death one of his friends in Rome took his body a few miles down the road to her family burial location. St. Paul's Basilica now stands over that location.

This altar stands over the spot Paul's body is located.

This is as close as you can get to Paul's coffin.

Scientists have identified Paul's coffin because it has these words on it which mean "Paul, Apostle, Martyr." However for some reason they are hesitant to open it to verify that Paul is in there. (I guess the only way to verify would be if the neck bone is severed than it's probably Paul but if it's not than you got the wrong guy.) Why won't they do this? Is it perhaps because of the loss revenue if it isn't him?

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