The San Paolo alle Tre Fontane Church is one of three churches at the Abbazia delle Tre Fontane a short distance from the Via Appia Antica in Rome. It was built on the site where Saint Paul was made a martyr.
San Paolo alle Tre Fontane Church Rome
The address of the Chiesa di San Paolo alle Tre Fontane is Via Acque Salvie, 1 (tel. +39 06 5401655 ). Bus: 761. Opening hours: Every day from 08.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 18.00. In summer the church stays open one hour longer. Entrance fee: Free.
History and description
The San Paolo alle Tre Fontane Church is dedicated to the martyrdom of Saint Paul. The present church was built in 1599 by Giacomo della Porta to replace an older, 6th century, construction. The commissioner was Cardinal Pietro Aldrobandini. The earlier church had been built by order of the Byzantine general Narsete.
According to legend, Saint Paul had been beheaded on the site where the church was built. His head bounced three times and at each spot where this happened a fountain sprang up, with hot, tepid and cold water in succession. Later, people would come to believe that the beheading had taken place along Via Ostiense and the Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura was built there.
What to see
The Three Fountains to which the church owes its name are equally spaced along the wall of the nave. They are located at different heights in niches with edicolas.
The thick column to which St. Paul was tied while being martyred is located to the left of the altar.
In one of the chapels hangs a copy of Guido Reni’s “Crucifixion.” The original can be seen in the Pinacoteca Vaticana in the Vatican Museums.
“The Beheading,” the painting near the altar of St. Paul, was painted by Bartolomeo Passarotti.
The floor of the church is graced with an antique Roman mosaic from the 2nd century, originally on display in the Mithraeum of the Imperial Palace in Ostia Antica. It depicts the “Four Seasons”.
The “Saints Peter and Paul” are depicted on the high-reliefs on the side walls of the vestibule. This part of the church used to be the oratory. The floor mosaic in the vestibule already existed when the church was built.
Two statues, again Peter and Paul, adorn the tympanum of the facade. These were made by Franciosino.