Rome, Italy: Church of Saint Paul at the Three Fountains: Saint Benedict Shrine

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May 20, 2017
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Church of Saint Paul at the Three Fountains , San Paolo alle Tre Fontane , Church of the Martyrdom of Saint Paul , Church of St. Paul the Apostle , Abbazia delle Tre Fontane , Abbey of the Three Fountains , Church of Saint Vincent and Saint Anastasius , Santa Maria Scala Coeli , Church of Saint Maria Scala Coeli , Saint Benedict in Art , Benedictine Shrines , Benedict in Sculpture
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Four miles outside the city of Rome, Italy is the Abbey of the Three Fountains, run by Cistercian monks belonging to the Trappist order. It contains three churches, of which the Church of Saint Paul at the Three Fountains (Church of the Martyrdom of Saint Paul; San Paolo alle Tre Fontane; Church of St. Paul the Apostle) is most sacred. This church was built on the site where Saint Paul was beheaded on 29 June 67 CE, in accordance with Emperor Nero's order. As a Roman citizen, Saint Paul could not be executed within the city. The other two churches in the complex are the earliest one: the Benedictine Church of Saint Vincent and Saint Anastasius, built in 626; and the 16th century Roman Catholic Church of Saint Maria Scala Coeli, where Saint Paul stopped to pray for the last time before he was beheaded. The legend is that Paul's head bounced three times and fountains sprang up at each spot; hence, the title of "Three Fountains." Actually, fountains already existed at the site when Paul was beheaded. Shown in the photograph is a statue of Saint Benedict, which is near the entrance of the Via delle Acque Salvie, a quiet and tree-lined gated street that leads to the complex. This marble statue is placed in a simple aedicula (a niche for a statue, used as a shrine). The Latin inscription at its base, translated to English, is: "Listen, oh son: obedience without delay. Pray and work. Here those who desire to see the open heavens hasten; and the hardness of the path does not distract him from his holy purpose. Difficult things are always achieved with great effort. The blessed life always passes through a narrow path."
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CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
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