Chiesa di San Paolo alle Tre Fontane (Church of St. Paul at the Three Fountains), Rome

Chiesa di San Paolo alle Tre Fontane (Church of St. Paul at the Three Fountains), Rome

According to legend, this church was constructed on the site where Saint Paul was beheaded around 67 AD. As a Roman citizen, he was granted the somewhat peculiar privilege of being beheaded instead of being crucified, which was considered more humane and reserved for foreigners and criminals. The legend states that his head bounced three times upon being severed, and a fountain sprang up at each spot where it landed – with hot, tepid, and cold water in succession. This gave rise to the name of the church, although the fountains are actually about 20 feet apart, making the bouncing theory somewhat impractical. Nonetheless, the first church was built on this location in the 6th century and later reconstructed in 1599 by Giacomo della Porta.

Inside the church, to the left of the altar, you will find the thick column to which St. Paul was tied during his martyrdom. One of the chapels houses a copy of Guido Reni's "Crucifixion," while the original painting can be seen in the Pinacoteca Vaticana within the Vatican Museums. Bartolomeo Passarotti's painting "The Beheading" is displayed near the altar of St. Paul.

The floor of the church features a well-preserved ancient Roman mosaic from the 2nd century. Originally located in the Mithraeum of the Imperial Palace in Ostia Antica, this mosaic portrays the "Four Seasons." Additionally, high-reliefs of Saints Peter and Paul adorn the side walls of the vestibule, which was previously the oratory. The floor mosaic in the vestibule predates the construction of the church.

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Chiesa di San Paolo alle Tre Fontane (Church of St. Paul at the Three Fountains) on Map

Sight Name: Chiesa di San Paolo alle Tre Fontane (Church of St. Paul at the Three Fountains)
Sight Location: Rome, Italy (See walking tours in Rome)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Rome, Italy

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