by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Every devout Catholic has the dream — or maybe had the dream before Bergoglio — of visiting the Eternal City one day and venerating the tombs of 150 thousand Catholic Martyrs who are buried in it, chief of whom are Saints Peter and Paul. However, most Catholics never have the chance, because of the cost of travel or the lack of time, or simply because traveling to a foreign country where they speak a different language is too intimidating.
For that reason, thankful for all the help my readers have and do give me, I want to offer you a virtual tour of the Basilica of Saint Paul, outside the walls, here at Rome: one of the Seven principle Basilica’s of the Church of Rome, by sharing with you the photos and videos I took on the Feast Day of the Dedication of the Basilica, this Nov. 18, 2019.
The riches of the Church belong to us all, and so, I release all these photos and videos to the public domain so that any Catholic anywhere can use them on social media or elsewhere, as they wish.
Saint Paul the Apostle was a devout observer of the law. You might call him a fanatic. He was so incensed at what he believed was the heresies taught by the first Christians that he obtained letters of authority from the Sanhedrin to go around arresting us at will and hauling us off to the Temple prison.
The future Saint was then called Saul. He was of the tribe of Benjamin and named after the first King of Israel, Saul, a fiery man much devoted to God, who eventually fell out of pride.
The Fathers of the Church tell us that the first Catholics, though they feared Saul very much, prayed for his conversion. Our Lady was especially doing this.
Thus it was, one day, while traveling on horseback to Damascus in the Roman Province of Syria, about the year 34 or 35 A.D., that the Risen Lord Jesus descended from Heaven and appeared to Saul, knocking him off his horse and off his horse of pride, and revealing His Divinity to him.
The conversion of Saint Paul is one of the great moments of the Post Pentecost Church, and you can read the story in the Book of Acts. It is also one of the great events which give Catholics of all ages hope, that with our united prayers to God and supplications to Our Lady we can obtain the conversion of some of the greatest enemies of the Church in our own day.
Saul after his conversion spent 3 years in the Desert as a hermit and then returned to his home town in Tarsus, where Saint Barnabus found him, when the Church in Antioch had discerned that it was time for the Gospel to be preached with particular emphasis to pagans, that is to gentiles, the ancestors of nearly all Catholics of today. After a time, Saul and Barnabus were consecrated Bishops and sent to Cyprus and Asia Minor. At Cyprus, Saul preached effectively to the Roman Consul Paulus, its governor, and in gratitude for his hospitality changed his name from Saul to Paul.
After much labors and after founding many Churches in Asia, Greece, Illyria and Italy (maybe even in Spain), Saint Paul came to Rome at last to help Saint Peter spread the faith in the Imperial Capital, thus fulfilling a prophecy to both of them that they should work to established the center of Catholicism at Rome so as to chain the Spirit of the Antichrist until the end of time.
Saint Paul was martyred by the Romans during the persecution of Nero. He was taken to Tre Fontane, to the south of Rome, where an abundance of water from 3 fountains made it easy to wash iron swords. He was beheaded, and the Catholic faithful took his mortal remains and buried them at some distance, at the place where there now rises one of the Greatest Basilicas of the Catholic world.
Basilica, the word, comes from Greek, and it means Imperial. We call our largest and most beautiful churches basilicas because at one time their use was reserved especially for Catholic Emperors.
The Tomb of this Great Saint has been carefully guarded and preserved for 20 centuries. It has been progressively ornamented and built up from the 5th century onwards. A greast Basilica in wood stood on this spot until the 19th century, when a great fire destroyed it. Seventeen years later, it’s reconstruction was ordered by Pope Gregory XVI, whose statue, as a token of gratitude, stands outside the Atrium on the right flank.
Oh, the Magnificence!
When you enter the Basilica for the first time, your breath is taken away by its unbelievable enormity and magnificence. I have visited the Basilica on several occasions and still have the same experience. Here are some vidoes to share that with you. Beneath each video is a brief description of what you are looking at.
This video I took standing in the central nave, with my back to the left entrance door. It is the sight you see upon entering from the front of the Basilica.
This next video, I took with my back to the High Altar, facing the Apex of the nave.
Here is the same, from another position.
And finally, here is the High Altar from the Apex of the Nave, as I walk down into the very crypt where the Apostle of the Gentiles is buried. (Those are olive trees, which are common decorations in churches in Italy).
The Goal of Every Pilgrim
The goal of every pilgrim, is, yes, to kneel before the sarcophagus of the Saint and pray one’s heart out for the graces and help one needs. I prayed for all of you who read my blog, but most of all for the Church of Rome that She might be liberated from the forces of darkness which have take her hostage.
As you pause on this image, PLEASE PRAY for Holy Mother Church! Pray intensely, with all the faith, hope, and charity you can muster!