The Basilica of Saint Paul is one of Romes four major Churches. It was founded by emperor Constantine over thetomb of apostle Paul, which centuries ago, stood far from Romes walls. Thats why it is also known as Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
For the first time, the Vatican has announced the discovery of several archeological sites that were associated with the Basilica's daily life in the Middle Ages. Even though the route through the site is still provisional, visitors can already tour the area and read about the history of the site.
"In order to build a modern welcome center for pilgrims, we discovered a facility that was built 1500 years ago, by our predecessors, for the same reason. The Popes, who wanted to provide St. Paul's with facilities that could accommodate all the pilgrims that would flock to the tomb of the Apostle of the Gentiles.”
During its 1500 year-long history, the Basilica's architecture has changed immensely, even though the original shrine containing St. Paul's remains still lies under the high altar. Around the year 1000 AD the basilica and its lands were entrusted to Benedictine monks, who still reside there to this day.
Among the discoveries are the ancient 'garden of the monks' and medieval pilgrim facilities, which were unveiled in an official conference attended by the archeologists.
The archeological finds in the area, include courtyards, a well and porches, which were all meant host the pilgrims that would visit St. Paul's from all over the world. In a way, the structures show that the deep devotion St. Paul, never ceased through the ages.
"Today, for us, these are extremely precious finds, because they must also be considered in the spiritual value that this discovery holds. They are traces of the uninterrupted devotion to the Apostle Paul.”
As part of the tour, drawings and reconstructions are available, to show how the area looked in ancient times.