Region #9: Outside Of The Aurelian Walls

A Guide For The Pilgrim in Rome

Region #9
Outside Of The Aurelian Walls

The following churches and catacombs are located outside of the Aurelian Walls that surround the ancient city of Rome; therefore, they are a bit difficult to reach. Nevertheless, they are rich in history and are definitely worth a visit. In fact, most of these places came into existence during the first few centuries of the church and are intimately connected to the lives of St Peter, St Paul, and the other martyrs.

The churches and catacombs listed on the following pages are placed in no particular order. They are all a considerable distance from the city center; therefore, one will need to use public transportation to reach them. However, the Catacombs of San Callisto, San Sebastiano Fuori Le Mura, and Domine Quo Vadis are all within one mile of each other and a walk between these places once they are reached by public transportation is easy to do. The churches are generally open from 7AM-1PM and from 4PM-7PM. Saint Paul Outside the Walls is open from 7AM-7PM.

Tre Fontane
(The Three Fountains)
Via Acque Salvie 1
Rome, Italy
*This shrine is located south of the Aurelian Walls. It can be reached by the Metro.  Take the B Line and exit at the Laurentina stop. Then walk 0.5 miles on Via Laurentina to the shrine. One can also reach the shrine with the 761 bus.
*There are three churches located at this shrine. The one located on the backside of the property, called San Paolo alle Tre Fontane, is believed to mark the spot of St Paul’s martyrdom. Legend says that after St Paul was decapitated his head bounced three times and with each bounce a fountain of water sprang up. Three grated areas along the eastern wall of this church cover up the locations of these three fountains. Also within this church is the column to which St Paul was bound and the table upon which he died.
*Another church on this property, Santa Maria Scala Coeli, is believed to mark the spot of St Paul’s imprisonment prior to his martyrdom. This is the first church on the right as one enters. A crypt below the main sanctuary of this church marks the spot where St Paul was imprisoned.

Catacombs of San Callisto
Via Appia Antica 110/126
Rome, Italy
*These catacombs are located south of the Aurelian Walls. They can be reached with the 118 or the 218 bus.
*St Sixtus II (d. 258), St Pontian (d. 235), St Fabian (d. 250), St Cornelius (d. 253) and a number of other early popes were originally buried here within the Papal Crypt. The remains of St Sixtus II were later moved to San Sisto Vecchio, the remains of St Fabian to San Sebastiano Fuori Le Mura, and the remains of St Cornelius to Santa Maria in Trastevere.
*St Cecilia was also buried in these catacombs. In 821 her remains were removed and taken to Santa Cecilia in Trastevere.
*Finally, it was at this location in the year 258 that Roman soldiers burst into a chapel and arrested St Sixtus II and four other deacons while they were celebrating the liturgy. St Lawrence (d. 258) was not among this group; however, a legend holds that St Lawrence was able to speak to St Sixtus just before the pope was martyred. In this conversation St Sixtus said to St Lawrence, “You shall follow me in three days.”  St Lawrence then in three days went on to suffer his own martyrdom by being burnt alive on a gridiron.

San Sebastiano Fuori Le Mura
(Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls)
Via Appia Antica 136
Rome, Italy
*This church is south of the Aurelian Walls. It can be reached with the 118 or the 218 bus.
*St Sebastian (d. 288) was originally buried in the catacombs located under this church. At some point, however, his remains were removed. Some of these remains are now located within an urn in a chapel on the left side of the nave. This is the chapel with the very impressive statue of St Sebastian created by Giuseppe Giorgetti.
*Directly across from this chapel on the right side of the nave is a reliquary chapel that contains the column to which St Sebastian was tied and an arrow that pierced his flesh. Also within this same reliquary chapel are some small relics said to be from St Peter, St Paul, St Andrew, and a number of other saints including the pope, St Fabian (d. 250). St Fabian was originally buried in the Catacombs of San Callisto but later his remains were moved to this church.
*This church has an ancient tradition connecting it to St Peter and to St Paul. The Depositio Martyrum shows that in the year 258 pilgrims came to San Sebastiano Fuori Le Mura on June 29th, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, to honor these two great saints. Therefore, it is presumed that at one time this church housed the remains of both St Peter and St Paul.
*Tradition also claims that within the catacombs located under this church St Philip Neri (d. 1595) experienced such an enlargement of his heart due to a supernatural infusion of God’s love that two of his ribs cracked.

Domine Quo Vadis
(Lord, Where Are You Going?)
Via Appia Antica
Rome, Italy
*This church is south of the Aurelian Walls. It can be reached with the 118 or the 218 bus.
*This is the location where Christ allegedly appeared to St Peter as he was fleeing Rome. Upon seeing the Lord, St Peter asked, “Domine, Quo Vadis?” (Lord, where are you going?) to which Jesus replied, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” Spurred on by this encounter St Peter returned to Rome where he became a martyr.

Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls
Via Ostiense 186
Rome, Italy
*This basilica can be reached by the Metro. Take the B Line and exit at the Basilica di San Paolo stop.
*St Paul is buried in the confessio. Above his tomb are the chains that were used to imprison him prior to his martyrdom. These chains were placed in this prominent location in 2008.
*Also a crucifix that is said to have spoken to St Bridget in 1370 is in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
*Lining the nave are 266 medallions depicting every pope from the last 2000 years.

Sant’Agnese Fuori le Mura
(Saint Agnes Outside the Walls)
Via S Agnese 315
Rome, Italy
*This church is northeast of the Aurelian Walls and is located on Via Nomentana.  It can be reached with the 60, 84, or 90 bus.
*The bones of St Agnes (d. 304) rest in the crypt under the main sanctuary.

San Lorenzo fuori le Mura
(Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls)
Piazzale del Verano 3
Rome, Italy
*This church is east of the Aurelian Walls. It can be reached by a number of buses or trams.
*The remains of St Lawrence (d. 258), St Stephen, and St Justin lie in the confessio below the main altar. (Note: The relics are labeled as St Justin the Presbyter. Therefore, it is likely that this is not St Justin the Martyr.)
*A marble stone slab beneath the choir floor is said to be the stone on which St Lawrence was placed after his execution. Also enshrined in this lower area is the body of Blessed Pius IX (d. 1878).