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Rome Reports

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Two apostles and four martyrs lie within the walls of Roman Church


In the most Byzantine-style church in all of Rome lie the remains of two of Jesus' apostles, St. Philip and St. James the Lesser, author of the book of James in the Bible. 

Originally dedicated to these two saints, it is now named after all the apostles as the “Church of the 12 Holy Apostles.” It dates back to the sixth century and has been cared for by Franciscan brothers, since 1463. Yet, it wasn't until the 1800s when it was restored and the crypt dug out below. 

AGNELLO STOIA
Parish priest, Franciscan
“This city is built with relics of holy martyrs. Rome already has the bodies of many saints, Peter, Paul, and the apostle Bartholomew who arrived a long time later. This is why the emperor's desire to bring the bodies of two apostles here was a very strong, fundamental gesture.”

However, these two apostles are not the only two martyrs here. There are three others who were moved to this church when citizens started digging up the graves around Rome, looking for treasure. It was the Church's way to keep their remains safe.

AGNELLO STOIA
Parish priest, Franciscan
"Together with the holy apostles, the relics of Eugenia and Claudia, who were a mother and daughter, were brought here. Eugenia is a saint who is venerated especially in Russia. There are many people called Eugenia and many people from Russia come to visit St. Eugenia and her mother. Also, so many Orthodox people come to visit the martyrs Daria and Chrysanthus and visit the bones and the relics of these two martyrs."

Yet, while the other martyrs' bodies are buried within the church's walls, the apostles offer first-class relics: St. Philip's foot and St. James' femur are shown right under the altar. They lie perfectly in line with their bodies below and attract thousands of pilgrims every year. 

AGNELLO STOIA
Parish priest, Franciscan
“Thousands, thousands come to visit our basilica. There are also many people who do not come as tourists, but rather as pilgrims. They come here to pray to Sts. Philip and James. They come here to pray to Daria and Chrysanthus. They come here to pray to Eugenia and Claudia."

Thus, the church is dripping in rich history, spanning all the way back to Jesus' time. It's another way to experience the faith and walk in the footsteps of the earliest Christians who paved the way for those today.