Upon arrival in Rome, we will be met by our representative and transferred to the city center.
En route we‘ll visit St. Paul Outside the Walls, the burial place of St. Paul the Apostle. The chapel of relics has numerous relics, the most notable of which are a set chains said to be the prison chains of St. Paul, used in the last days before his execution.
Three Fountains Abbey: tradition tells us Paul was martyred outside the walls of Rome at a place most folks have never heard of-one of the Christian sites not on the tourist maps.
Don’t confuse Three Fountains Abbey with the famous Baroque Trevi Fountain! It is called Tre Fontane (Three Fountains) because, according to legend, after Paul’s head was cut off, it bounced three times and three fountains spring up! Although the fountain story is apocryphal, the location of his death is historical. The pathway at the Three Fountains Abbey leads to the small chapel that marks the site of Paul’s martyrdom.
The Catacombs: most famous for the early Christians who were buried here, the catacombs offer an essential contribution to early Christian art. Early frescoes and sculptures still exist in them. Most touching for me were the smaller burial spots carved for children who had died.
Those burial tunnels of Rome’s early Christians are like a honeycomb beneath the consular roads out of Rome, especially along Via Appia Antica.
At the end of the tour, transfer to the hotel.
Overnight in Rome.
Breakfast at the hotel.
This morning we will be overwhelmed by the art and beauty found in our visit the Vatican Museums, as well as the Sistine Chapel. Our guide will show us the Apartments of Julius II, splendidly decorated by Raphael and his assistants, and then the Sistine Chapel, where you will admire one of the highest masterpieces of art: the Genesis and the Last Judgment by Michelangelo, that have gained their original splendour after the latest restorations.
Leaving the Sistine Chapel and going down the Royal Stairway, projected by Bernini, the guide will conduct you to the Basilica of St. Peter which gathers inside 2000 years of history and famous works of art such as the Pieta by Michelangelo. Contrary to popular belief and Hollywood movies, it’s unlikely any Christians were killed in the Colosseum. Instead, they were almost all martyred in the Circus of Gaius Nero – the site where St. Peter’s Square now stands.
Of all Christian sites in Rome, this place has received most attention. The Egyptian obelisk in the center of the square is original to the circus, though it stood in a different spot. Here Peter was crucified, according to tradition, upside down. He is most likely buried deep beneath the basilica in the original burial cave.
The afternoon is dedicated to the Ancient Rome with the visit of the Colosseum – once able to seat 50,000, was begun in 72 AD by Vespasian and inaugurated in 80 AD by his son, Titus. Combat was the usual entertainment between men, between animals, between men and animals, and even between ships, as the whole could be flooded.
The Arch of Titus, constructed in 82 AD by the emperor Domitian, the arch venerates his older brother Titus’ victories. Most notably, the inside relief of the arch portrays Roman soldiers carrying off treasures from the Jerusalem Temple, destroyed by Titus in 70 AD. Jesus predicted this destruction in 33 AD.
Roman Forum which was downtown ancient Rome.
Walking along the Via Sacra we will reach the heart of the Roman Forum where Julius Caesar was cremated, where Marc Anthony made his famous speech and the Vestal Virgins kept alive the fire for the Goddess Vesta in her temple.
Then, a climb up to the Palatine Hill. A hill bursting with historical significance. We will hear the legend of Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf, still today the symbol of Rome. On this hill Rome was founded and its glorious legacy continued when Emperor’s chose the location to build their palaces.
Mamertine Prison: The Apostle Paul went to Rome before there were Christian sites to see. He went as a prisoner in chains. Arrested in Jerusalem, imprisoned at Caesarea Maritima for two years, Paul appealed to Caesar and suffered a shipwreck on his way to Rome as a prisoner. After two years, Paul was released from his imprisonment, after which he travelled and wrote two more epistles before his final Roman imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison.
In the evening, a walking tour through the streets and alleys of the city center to visit the most famous squares, fountains and palaces of the Baroque Rome. From the spectacular Trevi Fountain, on to the amazing architecture of the Pantheon and the lively atmosphere of Piazza Navona with Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini.
After breakfast, we depart for Pompeii, where we will be joined by our local guide to have an archaeological journey through the ancient city.
Buried under a layer of ashes and pyroclastic flow by a sudden eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, the city shows us Roman life frozen in time. We will visit houses, shops, temples, squares, streets and even some of the darker quarters of the city, such as the “Lupanare” (house of prostitutes) and the “Suburbane Thermae“ (with its graphic frescos). It is through understanding the context of this time period that we can understand Paul’s preaching. People who walked these streets were of the generation of the early apostles and Paul’s message had reached there long before the eruption.
We continue on for our overnight in Foro Appio in the nearby “Mansio Hotel” A mansio was an official stopping place along a Roman road maintained by the central government for the use of officials and those on official business whilst travelling. In such a place, the apostle Paul could have hosted the early believers and drawn some encouragement. Our evening will include a unique experience with a dinner based on some ancient traditional Roman recipes.
Overnight in Foro Appio.
After a hearty breakfast, we will depart Foro Appio and make our way to Roma Fiumicino Airport.
End of services.
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