Would you like to see the most
important New Testament archaeological sites in Rome? What can we learn about
Saints Peter and Paul and Clement and Prisca and Aquila and other people
mentioned in the New Testament? Since we will be married 40 years this August,
Bill and I wanted to celebrate our anniversary with a special trip. I am also
working on a commentary on the Pastoral Letters for the New Covenant Commentary
Series and hoped to learn about Rome and its connection to 2 Timothy. Below are
the key sites that we visited and we would recommend to you to read about and
eventually visit. Of course, Rome offers many reasons to travel there because
of its extensive art works, but our focus would be the sites that would relate
to the New Testament. The sites we found most interesting to visit are starred.
*Ancient Rome: Palatine hill,
Temple of Romulus, Arch of Titus (A.D. 81); Roman forum: Basilica Julia-likely
place Paul heard his death sentence after 2 Timothy was written. The
foundations of Nero’s house are in the forum. His lake is now the Colosseum.
See also Domus Laurea and Oppio. (The Colosseum was built in A.D. 80, by 12,000
Jews as conscripted laborers after the fall of Jerusalem. It seated up to
70,000 people.) Forum of Augustus (Fori di Augusto), Piazza del Grillo 1, was
built by Octavius Augustus.
*Next to the steps leading to the
Church of Santa Maria Antigua is a first or second century apartment building,
called an “insulae” (originally 6 stories). Paul probably stayed in a similar
insulae when he was first under house arrest (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians,
*Teatro di Marcello (Theater of
Marcellus) was built by Augustus and seated 15-20,000.
*Ponte Sisto-a modern bridge
built over Roman remains.
Pantheon built A.D. 118 on the
site of an earlier temple.
Places where Paul & Peter
Church of Santa Pudenziana, Via
Urbana 160. Pudentiana and Praxedes were daughters of Pudens (senator or
centurion) mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21. This church was built over the house of
their father Pudens. He transformed the house into a place of worship. The
current church building dates to the fourth century and has the oldest
Christian mosaics that survive from a place of worship. A painting has women
symbolizing Jewish and Gentile communities (or Prassede and Pudenziana). The
tetramorph inspired by Revelation symbolizing four evangelists appears here
first. Pudens may have been married to Claudia Rufina, who was British. Peter
lived in their house in July 64. Under the altar are the remains of Pudenziana.
Pudens was a member of the Acilii Glabriones family. Novatus and Timothy were
his sons. Remains of Titulis Pudentis (A.D. 145) are below the church. Also below
the church are an ancient Roman house and baths, probably run by sons (Termae
Novatii). Linus, a future pope, possibly an Italian from Tuscany, lived with
Linus was probably buried near Peter (a coffin reads “Linus”). Outside the
city, the Via Papa San Lino (Linus) honors the second bishop of Rome (12
Church of Santa Prassede
(Praxedes), Via San Prassede. After her father Pudens, brother Novatus, sister
Pudentiana died, Prassede used her wealth to build this church, where she
concealed many Christians persecuted by Emperor Antoninus Pius. Christian
martyrs Pudens, Pudentiana and eventually Prassede herself were buried in the
cemetery of Priscilla, but then the remains of Prassede and Pudentiana were
removed to this church by Pope Paschal I. Thus, the church also honors
Episcopa/bishop Theodora, the mother of Pope Paschal I.
The Church of Saint Prisca, Via
Santa Prisca 11, area of Aventino, was built over the house of Prisca and
Aquila. Archaeological excavations have unearthed an early Roman Christian
place of worship and Mithras worship. The legend appears to confuse Prisca and
Priscilla, describing “Prisca,” as a daughter of Aquila and Priscilla, who
accompanied Paul on missionary voyages, and was baptized by Peter. (Roman
children were regularly called by the same name as their parents.) Most likely
Peter stayed here.
Church of Saint Paolo alla Regola
is built over a house where Paul lived. The house, near the Tiber River and
Sisto Bridge, later was used for Christians to worship.
Church of Saint Maria in Via
Lata, Via del Corso, was built over a house where Paul rented an apartment (10
c. tradition). Storerooms from the Roman period were beneath and an ancient
Roman street was in front. This was and still is a major street in Rome as
people travel from one site to another.
Church of Quo Vadis, Via Appia,
commemorates Jesus’ exhortation to Peter not to leave the city. A marble slab
with footprints are there (4 C.). *The Appian Way is well worth visiting.
Ostrian Cemetary, Via Nomentana.
Peter stayed here to avoid persecution. It used to have a chair where he
Events & places that
relate to the deaths of Peter & Paul
*North of Roman Forum-Carcere
Mamert (Mamertine Prison). Peter and Paul’s final place of imprisonment before
execution. It is a former cistern connected to Tullianum springs from Tiber
River. It had double level holes. The water overflows even today. The Church of
San Pietro in Carcere was placed over it and over that church, the Church of
San Giuseppe dei Faleguami.
*Abbazia delle Tre Fontane (Abbey of
the Three Fountains), Via delle Acque Salvie, modern Via Laurentina. Paul was
led out of Rome along Via Ostiensis, beheaded in Via Laurentina. The Church of
the Martyrdom of Saint Paul commemorates the event and includes a marble column
traditionally where he was beheaded. It is now a retreat center. The area south
of Rome is still in the outskirts of Rome.
Church of San Sebastiano, Via Appia
Antica 136. Remains of Peter and Paul were temporarily interred here in a
marble tomb (Platonia) for a year and 6/7 months. Demasus put the memorial
tablet in Platonia. Constantine built Basilica Apostolorum over the site to
commemorate it. Under the church are rooms with Latin and Greek invocations to
Peter and Paul.
*Church of San Paoli Fuori Le Mura
(St. Paul’s-without-the Wall), Via Ostiense 186. Paul’s remains were then moved
by Lucina in A.D. 69 to the Ostian Way (on the Via Valentina), where his coffin
remains to this day. The high altar is above the tomb. Inscription reads: “PAVLO
Church of San Giovanni in Laterano,
Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 4, cathedral of the bishop of Rome. In 1370 the
remains of the heads of Peter and Paul were brought from the Sancta Sanctorum
and placed in their statues over the high altar.
*Basilica de San Pietro (St. Peter’s
Basilica), Piazza San Pietro in Vatican City. Constantine in A.D. 320 built a
basilica on the site of the tomb of Peter, below the high altar. Near the site
of the current Altar of confession is a wall on which is written in Greek
letters “Peter Is Here.” Excavations are being done under the high altar
(reservations are needed at least 3 months in advance (firstname.lastname@example.org-Scavi
tours). Peter was
crucified nearby on the Circus of Nero, Aurelian Way (Gianicolo Park) at his
request head downward.
Other New Testament People’s
*Church of Saint Clement, Piazza San
Clemente. Clement (Philippians 4:3) was the third bishop of Rome
who died around A.D. 100. The current church is built over a fourth century
church built over the house of Clement. In A.D. 97 Clement was condemned to
exile and forced labor in Crimea. When Emperor Trajan had Clement thrown into
the Black Sea with an anchor, his body was found and buried. Cyril and
Methodius, who evangelized the Slavic peoples, brought Clement’s remains to
Rome. Remains of Clement’s home, an early church worship area and worship of
Mithras school can be seen 60 feet below the surface.
*Catacombs of Saint Priscilla, Via
Salaria 430, is property donated by Priscilla to the Christian community for
burial. The pagans used to cremate their dead but the Christians wanted to
retain the bones of the dead so that they would be ready to be resurrected at
the last judgment. Rich and poor were buried together in an egalitarian spirit.
In one of the oldest areas of the catacombs under the original villa was found
a burial inscription: “M(anio) Acilius c.v. (“most illustrious man”)… and
Priscilla C. (f.) (“most illustrious woman”).” “C.V.” indicates that both of
them belonged to families of senatorial rank, the family of Acilius. Suetonius,
in the Life of Domitian
that Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96) condemned to death “many senators, some of
whom had been consuls, among them…Acilius Glabrione, the latter having been
exiled. They were accused of wanting to introduce new things.” This general
charge, akin to that of atheism, would relate to the practice of calling
Christianity an entirely “new concept”
“where the brotherhood of all who had been
baptized was recognized, with no discrimination for reasons of social condition
or of national origin.” Manius Acilii Glabriones is a relative of Pudens. The
Via Salaria is an old Roman road that was used for commerce.
Church of San Stefano Rotondo, Via
di San Stefano Rotondo 7. When Stephen’s tomb was discovered near Jerusalem in
415, his remains were brought to this church built in his honor and modeled on
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Church of San
Silvestro in Capite, Piazza San Silvestro, claims to have John the Baptist’s