To mark the Jubilee of Mercy, some significant but little known monuments are opening up all over Rome.
One of those sites is the cemetery where Saint Paul was buried after his martyrdom, about four miles from the Vatican. The necropolis was discovered through excavations between 1917 and 1918. It's one of the greatest records of Roman life in the first few centuries after Jesus Christ.
"The type of tombs show us that they belonged to people from the middle and lower class. Every niche had a cost. To overlook the street was most expensive because of its visibility. It was a way of showing the social class of the deceased, his social status.”
Some tombs even have preserved frescoes. Thanks to the inscriptions, one can know the identity of the dead. There are young people and old, along with free people and well-known former slaves who were set free by their owners. The richness of the tombs also offers hints as to how some of them were able to make their fortunes.
Saint Paul was interred here, in the area between Rome and Ostia, the world capital's ancient port.
"The grave was here, where this vast necropolis already existed. Every necropolis was built outside the city walls. That's what Roman law said at the time, banning burial or cremation inside the city.”
As was the case with Saint Peter, the tomb of Saint Paul became a pilgrimage center, so they built a basilica over his tomb, Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Popes typically visit the site every January 25th to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It's the same place that Pope John XXIII announced the Second Vatican Council.
The spectacular necropolis can be visited for the next few months. Reservations are required, as is four Euros per person for entry.
Reservation Number: +39 060608
Maximum visitors: 30
Possible days to visit: