Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors

In our travels around the world, Holly and I have traveled to religious sites of other religions, but have never had the privilege to visit sites significant to our own faith.  In Rome, however, we were finally able to change that.

In my first post about our trip to Italy, I mentioned that I was starting at the end.  We came and went to Italy through Rome, and so got to stay in the city on two occasions.  I want to wrap up my posts on Italy with where we started, however, because this was frankly the most meaningful part of the trip.  Yes absolutely the entire country is beautiful, and we loved our time there (can’t wait to go back actually), but these stops were profound beyond just the beauty of the location or the historical nature of the architecture.  These stops were meaningful on a deeper level.

Christians, and those who have studied the Bible, will likely be familiar with the fact that the apostle Paul – author of a good portion of the New Testament – met his end in Rome, after a long period of imprisonment there.  What you may not realize, however, is that you can visit two of the locations where Paul was imprisoned, as well as the location where the Catholic tradition holds that he was executed.  As Christians we, of course, don’t believe that there is anything magical about these places, but for Holly and I it added a level of depth to the stories we’ve read over and over through the years.  To stand where Paul stood, to walk the path he took, lent a real-ness to what had only previously existed in our minds.  It was truly an amazing experience.

Now, about the pictures.  Above is a picture of the original stones of a pathway that led to the place where Paul was executed.  The actual site is now encompassed inside the church at the end of the walkway (Catholics have built churches on top of many of Christianity’s significant sites).  The inside of the church was certainly interesting, but what grabbed me was this walkway.  The actual stones Paul walked on.  As Holly and I walked along the path and studied it, Holly mentioned that she kept remembering Paul’s words at the end of Romans 8 – “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.  Appropriate I thought.

Immediately below is a picture of another sanctuary that stands on top of what would have been the final holding cell where Paul was kept prior to his execution, followed by a wider view of the path mentioned above.  For those who may be interested, this site is called “Abbazia delle Tre Fontane” (Abbey of the Three Fountains).  You’ll want to be specific, however, as to not get confused with the more famous trio of fountains in Rome.

Following those two images is another pair of images, these from the “Basilica di San Paolo Fuori le Mura” (The Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls).  This is the church that is built on top of what is thought to be the place of Paul’s burial.  Here you can look down on what is believed to be his tomb in the main part of the sanctuary (not pictured here).  Even before Holly mentioned the scripture she was reminded of at the other location, I was planning to read Romans 8 here at this site, and I did so, standing on the steps leading up to the altar above his tomb.  Also not pictured here is another site we visited, known as the The Mamertine Prison.  This is the location where Paul was held for a much longer period of time, and where the Catholic tradition holds that he wrote 2 Timothy.  Catholics also believe that Peter was held here as well, however because he was not a Roman citizen, as Paul was, there is no official record of it.  In any case, Holly and I were able to visit this location as well, and found it to be moving as also.  We returned on our last evening in Rome and sat on the steps of the church that now sits atop the prison, and read the entirety of 2 Timothy while sitting there.

With that, we wrap up Italy.  As you can tell, the trip was amazing on many different levels.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos and stories.  We’ll be back next week!

–Dan Thompson

Title Address Description
Abbazia delle Tre Fontane
Via di Acque Salvie, 1, 00142 Roma RM, Italy

Alternate Perspective

ˈȯl-tər-nət pər-ˈspek-tiv
  1. A substitute or different visible scene.
  2. Another view or angle.
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors
Downtown Knoxville in Fall Colors

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