A Pilgrim’s Visit to the Basilica of Saint Paul’s, Rome

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Every devout Catholic has the dream — or maybe had the dream before Bergoglio — of visiting the Eternal City one day and venerating the tombs of 150 thousand Catholic Martyrs who are buried in it, chief of whom are Saints Peter and Paul. However, most Catholics never have the chance, because of the cost of travel or the lack of time, or simply because traveling to a foreign country where they speak a different language is too intimidating.

For that reason, thankful for all the help my readers have and do give me, I want to offer you a virtual tour of the Basilica of Saint Paul, outside the walls, here at Rome: one of the Seven principle Basilica’s of the Church of Rome, by sharing with you the photos and videos I took on the Feast Day of the Dedication of the Basilica, this Nov. 18, 2019.

The riches of the Church belong to us all, and so, I release all these photos and videos to the public domain so that any Catholic anywhere can use them on social media or elsewhere, as they wish.

History First

Saint Paul the Apostle was a devout observer of the law. You might call him a fanatic. He was so incensed at what he believed was the heresies taught by the first Christians that he obtained letters of authority from the Sanhedrin to go around arresting us at will and hauling us off to the Temple prison.

Saint Paul brandishes the sword of the word of God, clothed in the attire of a Jew of the First Century. This statue stands in the great Atrium in front of the facade of the Basilica.

The future Saint was then called Saul. He was of the tribe of Benjamin and named after the first King of Israel, Saul, a fiery man much devoted to God, who eventually fell out of pride.

The Fathers of the Church tell us that the first Catholics, though they feared Saul very much, prayed for his conversion. Our Lady was especially doing this.

Thus it was, one day, while traveling on horseback to Damascus in the Roman Province of Syria, about the year 34 or 35 A.D., that the Risen Lord Jesus descended from Heaven and appeared to Saul, knocking him off his horse and off his horse of pride, and revealing His Divinity to him.

The Altar of the Conversion: showing the moment Our Lord revealed himself to Saul. The statues on the left and right are, respectively, those of Pope St Leo the Great and St. Benedict, placed there because Saint Leo restored the Basilica and the sons of St Benedict for long ages cared for it.

The conversion of Saint Paul is one of the great moments of the Post Pentecost Church, and you can read the story in the Book of Acts. It is also one of the great events which give Catholics of all ages hope, that with our united prayers to God and supplications to Our Lady we can obtain the conversion of some of the greatest enemies of the Church in our own day.

Saul after his conversion spent 3 years in the Desert as a hermit and then returned to his home town in Tarsus, where Saint Barnabus found him, when the Church in Antioch had discerned that it was time for the Gospel to be preached with particular emphasis to pagans, that is to gentiles, the ancestors of nearly all Catholics of today. After a time, Saul and Barnabus were consecrated Bishops and sent to Cyprus and Asia Minor. At Cyprus, Saul preached effectively to the Roman Consul Paulus, its governor, and in gratitude for his hospitality changed his name from Saul to Paul.

After much labors and after founding many Churches in Asia, Greece, Illyria and Italy (maybe even in Spain), Saint Paul came to Rome at last to help Saint Peter spread the faith in the Imperial Capital, thus fulfilling a prophecy to  both of them that they should work to established the center of Catholicism at Rome so as to chain the Spirit of the Antichrist until the end of time.

This magnificent Statue of Saint Peter the Apostle stands guard to the right of the Main Door of the Basilica’s facade.

Saint Paul was martyred by the Romans during the persecution of Nero. He was taken to Tre Fontane, to the south of Rome, where an abundance of water from 3 fountains made it easy to wash iron swords. He was beheaded, and the Catholic faithful took his mortal remains and buried them at some distance, at the place where there now rises one of the Greatest Basilicas of the Catholic world.

There are many statues of Saint Paul at his basilica. This one shows him as the author of many Letters, which are nor preserved intact in the New Testament. It stands guard to the left of the Main Door of the Basiica.

Basilica, the word, comes from Greek, and it means Imperial. We call our largest and most beautiful churches basilicas because at one time their use was reserved especially for Catholic Emperors.

The Tomb of this Great Saint has been carefully guarded and preserved for 20 centuries. It has been progressively ornamented and built up from the 5th century onwards. A greast Basilica in wood stood on this spot until the 19th century, when a great fire destroyed it. Seventeen years later, it’s reconstruction was ordered by Pope Gregory XVI, whose statue, as a token of gratitude, stands outside the Atrium on the right flank.

Oh, the Magnificence!

When you enter the Basilica for the first time, your breath is taken away by its unbelievable enormity and magnificence. I have visited the Basilica on several occasions and still have the same experience. Here are some vidoes to share that with you. Beneath each video is a brief description of what you are looking at.

This video I took standing in the central nave, with my back to the left entrance door. It is the sight you see upon entering from the front of the Basilica.

This next video, I took with my back to the High Altar, facing the Apex of the nave.

Here is the same, from another position.

And finally, here is the High Altar from the Apex of the Nave, as I walk down into the very crypt where the Apostle of the Gentiles is buried. (Those are olive trees, which are common decorations in churches in Italy).

The Goal of Every Pilgrim

The goal of every pilgrim, is, yes, to kneel before the sarcophagus of the Saint and pray one’s heart out for the graces and help one needs. I prayed for all of you who read my blog, but most of all for the Church of Rome that She might be liberated from the forces of darkness which have take her hostage.

The Tomb of Saint Paul the Apostle, and the chains which held him bound as a prisoner of the Roman Emperor.

As you pause on this image, PLEASE PRAY for Holy Mother Church! Pray intensely, with all the faith, hope, and charity you can muster!

3 comments on “A Pilgrim’s Visit to the Basilica of Saint Paul’s, Rome

  1. Lucy Roverte says:

    Br Bugnolo,

    thank you for sharing this virtual pilgrimage and especially the clip of St. Paul’s tomb. In January 2015 I went with four girlfriends to Rome and we alll knelt before St. Paul’s tomb. It was the highlight of the visit for all of us. That and Sant Andrea delel Fratte where Our Lady appeared to Alphons Ratisbonne and where St Maximilian Kolbe celebrated his first Holy Mass.

    I had been three times to Rome already but never to St Paolo fuore le Mura. In 2015 I realised for the first time how very little Faith there actually was in Rome. So mcuh so that when we got through security for St Peter’s and realised we could not see Bergoglio while he gave his Angelus address, something inside me said don’t go out again to see him. I have travelled hours and hours in the past to see Pope Benedict XVI in Cologne and again in Berlin, but in this occasion something told me this fellow was not worth a 20 minute queue.

    God bless,
    lLucy

  2. The Editor says:

    Lucy, there is a lot of faith at Rome, but you do not find it except at daily mass in small chapels and parishes. Italians do not do much in public, their culture is private, local and cortesan, that is, they show their faith at home, at their favorite shrines and churches, and in the presence of high ecclesiastics that they personally admire or follow. To ask them to take a position purely on the basis of religious truth regardless of what anyone thinks in their neighborhood, city or nation, is something only the Saints among them would do. To their mind that is incredibly heroic, even if in private they would without doubt take such a position just as quickly as any Catholic from Germany or the USA.

  3. […] the Arch-Basilica is not as large as the Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, which I showed you two weeks ago, but it is stupendous in its own way. The floors are covered with inlaid marble of […]

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