The Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is the largest church in Rome after Saint Peter’s Basilica and is sometimes referred to as the “Ostian Basilica” because of its location along the Ostian Way. The Apostle Paul was brought to Rome as a prisoner and martyred between the years 64 and 67 during the persecution of Nero. Aquae Salviae, today’s Tre Fontana, about two miles from the basilica, is the traditional site of Paul’s martyrdom. Since he was a Roman citizen, his execution was probably by beheading rather than public torture. The body was claimed by the Roman matron Lucina, who buried it in her family tomb near a vineyard on the road to Ostia. An oratory was soon erected over it.
This basilica was the traditional site of the First Scrutiny of the Catechumenate. This is the reason why a major basilica was erected by Gregory the Great as a station church in mid-week. The tomb of the Apostles, called so specially by Christ, reminds one of the Lenten theme of conversion.
Today, let us take some time to pray for the more than 1,100 men, women and children(catechumens and elect) coming into the church in the Archdiocese of Washington at Easter.
Adapted from the Pontifical North American College Guide to the Station Churches
Photos by Fr. Justin Huber