Today I went with a friend to the Abbey of St. Paul at the Three Fountains (San Paolo alle Tre Fontane), a Trappist abbey that sits on the site where St. Paul was martyred around the year AD67. It is a bit south of Rome, and fortunately my friend had access to a car.

There are three churches there: one is the abbatial church (sparsely decorated, in the Trappist tradition); one is a church formerly dedicated to St. Zeno but now to Our Lady, based on a vision that St. Bernard of Clairvaux had there (small and nice, if not in need of a good cleaning and de-cluttering); and the last one is the Basilica of St. Paul at the Three Fountains (more below).

First, a sign that I saw in one of the churches:

Bad cell phone photo. Translation/explanation below.

The sign says:

Make a visit to JESUS
For those who are Christians… out of friendship.
For those who are not Christians… out of politeness.
Peace be with you!

I like it. And I have written before about visits to the Blessed Sacrament.

(Incidentally, at the end there, that’s the plural “you”: peace be with y’all.)

Here is a very poor-quality cell phone shot of the interior of the church of the Three Fountains. To be honest, I thought that at the place where St. Paul was martyred there would be a far more impressive church. Alas.

The three shrines (the right-most one is cut off in the photo) are over the three fountains, which apparently have been sealed since 1950 due to water pollution problems. However, in spite of their allegedly being sealed, it was *extremely* humid and stuffy in the church!

Why three fountains, you ask? Because, as tradition holds, when St. Paul was martyred (by beheading), his head bounced three times after it was lopped off, and in each place that it bounced a spring sprung up!

(I swear, I did not intend to have a beheading theme this week!)

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