When the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls was almost completely destroyed by fire in mid-July of 1823, Pope Pius VII was close to death, after a reign of over 23 years; the dying Pontiff was never told what had happened to one of Rome’s most ancient and important churches, one of his own personal favorites. Over the course of the following thirty years, his successors Leo XII (1823-29), Pius VIII (1829-30), Gregory XVI (1831-46) and Blessed Pius IX (1846-78) rebuilt the church that houses under its altar the tomb of the Apostle of the Gentiles. On December 10, 1854, two days after he had formally defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception at a solemn ceremony in St Peter’s, Pius IX celebrated the consecration of the church, in the presence of a large number of prelates then in Rome. However, the long-standing custom that the Dedication of the Basilicas of Ss Peter and Paul be celebrated together on November 18th was not altered.
|The letter by which Bl. Ildefonse Schuster was given possession of the Abbey of St Paul Outside-the-Walls in 1918. He served as the abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St Paul until his appointment as Archbishop of Milan in 1929.|
|A late-18th-century pyx.|
|Several of the icons displayed in the treasury museum.|
|An inscription which marked the grave of St Paul in the late 4th or early 5th century, on which is written “Paulo Apostolo Mart(yri) - To Paul, Apostle and Martyr.”|
|The reliquary chapel.|
|A statue of Pope Boniface IX Tomacelli (1389-1404), originally inside the basilica, but badly damaged by the fire of 1823, and now removed to the cloister.|
|The early 13th century cloister of the church is remarkably well preserved. The portion of the inscription seen here in the band above the arches says “Here the company of monks studies and reads and prays.”|