The basilica was founded by the Roman Emperor Constantine I over the burial place of Saint Paul, where it was said that, after the Apostle's execution, his followers erected a memorial, called a cella memoriae. This first edifice was expanded under Valentinian I in the 370s.
In 386, Emperor Theodosius I began erecting a much larger and more beautiful basilica with a nave and four aisles with a transept; the work including the mosaics was not completed until Leo I's pontificate (440–461). In the 5th century it was larger than the Old St. Peter's Basilica. The Christian poet Prudentius, who saw it at the time of emperor Honorius (395–423), describes the splendours of the monument in a few expressive lines. As it was dedicated also to Saints Taurinus and Herculanus, martyrs of Ostia in the 5th century, it was called the basilica trium Dominorum ("basilica of Three Lords").
Under Gregory the Great (590–604) the basilica was extensively modified. The pavement was raised to place the altar directly over Paul's tomb. A confession permitted access to the Apostle's sepulcher.
In that period there were two monasteries near the basilica: St. Aristus's for men and St. Stefano's for women. Masses were celebrated by a special body of clerics instituted by Pope Simplicius. Over time the monasteries and the basilica's clergy declined; Pope Saint Gregory II restored the former and entrusted the monks with the basilica's care.
As it lay outside the Aurelian Walls, the basilica was damaged in the 9th century during the Saracen invasions. Consequently, Pope John VIII (872–882) fortified the basilica, the monastery, and the dwellings of the peasantry, forming the town of Joannispolis (Italian: Giovannipoli) which existed until 1348, when an earthquake totally destroyed it.
In 937, when Saint Odo of Cluny came to Rome, Alberic II of Spoleto, Patrician of Rome, entrusted the monastery and basilica to his congregation and Odo placed Balduino of Monte Cassino in charge. Pope Gregory VII was abbot of the monastery and in his time Pantaleone, a rich merchant of Amalfi who lived in Constantinople, presented the bronze doors of the basilica maior, which were executed by Constantinopolitan artists; the doors are inscribed with Pantaleone's prayer that the "doors of life" may be opened to him. Pope Martin V entrusted it to the monks of the Congregation of Monte Cassino. It was then made an abbey nullius. The abbot's jurisdiction extended over the districts of Civitella San Paolo, Leprignano, and Nazzano, all of which formed parishes. But the parish of San Paolo in Rome is under the jurisdiction of the cardinal vicar.
The graceful cloister of the monastery was erected between 1220 and 1241.
From 1215 until 1964 it was the seat of the Latin Patriarch of Alexandria.
The Holy Doors.
Arnolfo di Cambio's tabernacle
On 15 July 1823 a fire, started through the negligence of a workman who was repairing the lead of the roof, resulted in the almost total destruction of the basilica which, alone of all the churches of Rome, had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years. It was re-opened in 1840, and reconsecrated 1855 with the presence of Pope Pius IX and fifty cardinals. Completing the works of reconstruction took longer, however, and many countries made their contributions. The Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, the Emperor of Russia the precious malachite and lapis lazuli of the tabernacle. The work on the principal facade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian Government, which declared the church a national monument. On 23 April 1891 an explosion at Porta Portese destroyed the stained glasses.
On 31 May 2005 Pope Benedict XVI ordered the Basilica to come under the control of an Archpriest and he named Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo as its first archpriest.
Critiques | Translate
paprika-jancsi (2505) 2012-01-12 9:08
Nice trip to Rome, dear Barbara.Great outside shot of my favorite basilica, San Paolo fuori le mura where I spent a few admiring hours in 1994 with my wife.
Hope you took some photos inside and also in the courtyard with the twisted marble columns. Ciao Janos
eldancer1 (20674) 2012-01-12 9:15
Beautiful capture of the wall painting on this basilica. Good soft lighting and wonderful colors. Very well done, tfs.
Fis2 (76896) 2012-01-12 9:22
Z tej strony pieknie widac malowidla.
Szkode, ze niebo nie dopisalo.
Ale tak to juz jest...
Palmy dodaja uroku.
jurek1951 (37040) 2012-01-12 9:32
bedac we Wlochach i trafic na takie niebo to trzeba miec pecha,budowla od frontu prezetuje sie super,pozdrawiam
Ricx (13489) 2012-01-12 13:06
Hi Barbara, I see your gallery is growing with some amazing photographs.. I really like the sharpness and detail in this Roman Basillica. The Romans were a nation and empire that have left us so much to see and ponder at.. Their legacy was huge. congrats Rich
Alco (5431) 2012-01-12 21:06
Nice shot of that part of the basilica.I like the contrast created by the colorful wall painting.Great sharpness and beautiful colors.TFS
JFS (32453) 2012-01-12 22:49
This Basilica is a jewel! Magnificent architecture and paintings, excellent presentation and play of light. Thanks Barbara!
Graal (92108) 2012-01-12 23:47
piekna bazylika w Rzymie, kiedys tam bylem. Ladne ujecie i kolory. Dobra notka. Podoba mi sie to zdjecie.
jemaflor (73990) 2012-01-13 8:24
Nice Basilica taken from a good pov, nice decoation on the facade, good light management with this weather.
Silvio1953 (105301) 2012-01-13 9:14
Ciao Barbara, great POV on wonderful church with beautiful columnes, lovely composition with palms in FG, wonderful colors, splendid light and excellent clarity, very well done my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio
Cricri (92015) 2012-01-13 12:09
Belle vue de face de la cathédrale, magnifique architecture avec la peinture sur le haut, les statues, les colonnes, les palmiers, beaucoup de jolis détails a voir, bravo
mkamionka (27031) 2012-01-14 2:10
bardzo dobrze pamietam te sliczna bazylike. Mam stamtad pare zdjec ale niestety wyplowialy a negatywy sie poniszczyly z czasem. Z przyjemnoscia wiec ogladam Twoje fotografie z Rzymu. Paradoksalnie ta bazylika jest jakos chyba mniej popularna. Mnie bardzo podoba sie zlota mozaika, jak rowniez pomnik sw Pawla i palmy ktore ladnie dekoruja placyk. Te palmy wnosza atmosfere egzotycznosci.
raszid62 (18583) 2012-01-14 8:52
Przewspaniała jest ta bazylika, cudowny w jaskrawych kolorach fresk na górnej ścianie i wspaniała kolumnada. Palmy dodają egzotyki. Świetne kolory i ostrość.
jmdias (48289) 2012-04-09 2:44
I never had seen this church before. nice view of this façade. I liked these details of architecture, the paintings in the upper side and the marvelous details behind the columns. TFS.