Treasures of the Church- Holy Sites
abbey of tre fontane
The Trappist complex of Tre Fontane (three
fountains) consists of three churches: the
convent and the Basilica of Saints Vincent and
Anastasius, the Church of Saint Mary Scala Coeli
(ladder to Heaven), and the Church of Saint
The current Church of Saint Paul was completed
by a design of Giacomo della Porta (James of the
door) and commissioned by Cardinal Farnese. It
is dedicated to the apostle Paul and was raised
over the spot where Saint Paul was beheaded.
According to tradition, the head, once severed
from the body, struck the earth in three
different places from which fountains
miraculously sprang up and which flow to the
present day. Thus, the place is named after the
three fountains (Tre Fontane).
The first church in this place was built in the
fifth century, the same century when Pope Sixtus
III asked a monastic community to live there
with the purpose of assuring the uninterrupted
prayer time in one of the most cherished places
of Christian memory. Many years later in 1599,
Giacomo della Porta designed it and rebuilt it.
The Church of Saint Paul has a foyer and a
transverse nave. The column were the apostle was
decapitated is found in one of the corners.
Three symbolic monuments cover the fountains
that are found in the interior of the church, on
the back wall, each on a different level. The
fountains were sealed because the water that
flowed from them is contaminated.
On the floor are preserved the remains of a
roman mosaic which was brought here from the
roman port of Ostia during the Imperial period
and which has as a theme of four stations.
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