(St. Paul's Outside the Wall) S. Paolo fuori le Mura is located outside the ancient walls of Rome. The original 4th century basilica, built under Constantine, was destroyed by fire in 1823 and only a few of the original fragments remain. The basilica was formed with the union of the pre-existing Church of San Lorenzo (330 A.D.) and the Church of the Blessed Virgin (432 - 440 A.D.). The confessional below the altar contains the Tomb of St. Paul, who was buried here after his martyrdom in 67 A.D. The spiral columns of the cloisters survived the fire and were built in 1214 by the Vassalletto family, and the gold mosaics by Pietro Cavallini, originally on the facade, were moved to the nave. Unlike most of Rome's basilicas, which have three aisles, S. Paolo is a five-aisled church. Eighty granite columns separate the four side aisles from the central nave. Above the columns are mosaic portraits of all 263 Popes, with only the current Pope's portrait illuminated. Currently, there are only eight vacant spots left for Popes and tradition states that when space runs out the world will end.
Enjoy a guided tour of Rome when your mediterranean cruise makes a stop here.