(San Paolo
fuori le mura



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AN international, extra-congregational Benedictine abbey under the direct jurisdiction of the Benedictine Abbey Primate. In the early eighth century.  Founded by the Emperor Constantine over the traditional burial-place of St. Paul, the basilica was consecrated in 324 by Pope Sylvester. In the early eighth century (c. 720) Pope Gregory II entrusted the the basilica to Benedictine monks, in whose care it has remained to the present time

The following is from the 1920 Catholic Encyclopedia

As early as 200 the burial place of the great Apostle in the Via Ostia was marked by a cella memorić, near which the Catacomb of Comodilla was established. Constantine, according to the “Liber Pontificalis”, transformed it into basilica; in 386 Theodosius began the erection of a much larger and more beautiful basilica, but the work including the mosaics was not completed till the pontificate of St. Leo the Great. The Christian poet, Proudentius, describes the splendours of the monument in a few, expressive lines. As it was dedicated also to Saints Taurinus and Herculanus, martyrs of Ostia in the fifth century, it was called the basilica trium Dominorum.


Of the ancient basilica there remain only the interior portion of the apse with the triumphal arch and the mosaics of the latter; the mosaics of the apse and the tabernacle of the confession of Arnolfo del Cambio belong to the thirteenth century.

Basilica Nave 

 Basilica, Apse

IN the old basilica each pope had his portrait in a frieze extending above the columns separating the four aisles and naves. In 1823 a fire, started through the negligence of a workman who was repairing the lead of the roof, resulted in the destruction of the basilica. Alone of all the churches of Rome, it had preserved its primitive character for one thousand four hundred and thirty-five years. The whole world contributed to its restoration. The Khedive of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, the Emperor of Russia the precious malachite and lapis lazuli of the tabernacle. The work on the principal facade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian Government, which declared the church a national monument. The interior of the walls of the nave are adorned with scenes from the life of St. Paul in two series of mosaics (Gagliardi, Podesti, Balbi, etc).



THE graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241. The sacristy contains a fine statue of Boniface IX. In the time of Gregory the Great there were two monasteries near the basilica: St. Aristus’s for men and St. Stefano’s for women. Services were carried out by a special body of clerics instituted by Pope Simplicius. In the course of time the monasteries and the clergy of the basilica declined; St. Gregory II restored the former and entrusted the monks with the care of the basilica. The popes continued their generosity toward the monastery; the basilica was again injured during the Saracen invasions in the ninth century. In consequence of this John VIII fortified the basilica, the monastery, and the dwellings of the peasantry, forming the town of Joannispolis, which was still remembered in the thirteenth century. In 937, when St. Odo of Cluny came to Rome, Alberico II, patrician of Rome, entrusted the monastery and basilica to his congregation [i.e. Cluny] and Odo placed Balduino of Monte Cassino in charge.

Sacristy Altar


GREGORY VII (Hildebrand)  was abbot of the monastery and in his time Pantaleone of Amalfi presented the bronze gates of the basilica, which were executed by Constantinopolitan artists. Martin V entrusted it to the monks of the Congregation of Monte Cassino. It was then made an abbey nullius. The jurisdiction of the abbot extended over the districts of Civitella San Paolo, Leprignano, and Nazzano, all of which formed parishes; the parish of San Paolo in Rome, however, is under the jurisdiction of the cardinal vicar.

In 2005 it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Abbot Primate as an extra-congregational international Benedictine community.

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