|Rome - |
Paul's first visit was between the restoration by Augustus, whose boast was "he had found the city of brick and left it of marble" (Suet., Aug. 28), and that by Nero after its conflagration. His residence was near the "barrack" (praetorium) attached to the imperial palace on the Palatine (Philemon 1:13). (See PALACE.) Modern Rome lies N. of ancient Rome, covering the Campus Martius, or "plain" to the N. of the seven hills; the latter (Revelation 17:9), the nucleus of the old city, stand on the left bank. On the opposite side of the Tiber is the higher ridge, Janiculum, also the Vatican. The Mamertine prison where legend makes Peter and Paul to have been fellow prisoners for nine months is still under the church of Giuseppe dei Falegnani; but see 2 Timothy 4:11. (See PETER.)
The chapel on the Ostian road marks the legendary site of the two parting for martyrdom. The church of Paolo alle Tre Fontane on the Ostian road is the alleged site of Paul's martyrdom. The church of Pietro in Montorio on the Janiculum is that of Peter's martyrdom. The chapel "Domine quo Vadis?" on the Appian road marks where Peter in the legend met the Lord, as he was fleeing from martyrdom. (See PETER.) The bodies of the two apostles first lay in the catacombs ("cemeteries" or sleeping places: Eusebius, H. E. ii. 25); then Paul's body was buried by the Ostian road, Peter's beneath the dome of the famous basilica called after him (Caius, in Eusebius, H. E. ii. 25). All this is mere tradition.
Real sites are the Colosseum and Nero's gardens in the Vatican near to Peter's; in them Christians wrapped in beasts' skins were torn by dogs, or clothed in inflammable stuffs were burnt as torches during the midnight games! Others were crucified (Tacitus, Annals xv. 44). The catacombs, "subterranean galleries" (whether sand pits or excavations originally is uncertain), from eight to ten feet, high, and four to six wide extending for miles, near the Appian and Nomentane ways, were used by the early Christians as places of refuge, worship, and burial. The oldest inscription is A.D. 71; thence to A.D. 300 less than thirty Christian inscriptions are known bearing dates, 4,000 undated are considered anterior to Constantine.