Thursday, 24 February 2011

Annual Retreat

We are in the course of our Annual Retreat. 

The Director speaks excellently on the Rule of St. Benedict and on Cistercian Community.
Providentially, the Readings of the Night Office echo in powerful harmony with St. Paul 1Cor 12, Eckhart, and Hugh of St Victor

Monastic Night Office
First Reading
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Responsory        1 In 4:1-2; 1 Cor 12:3
Test the spirits to see whether they come from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you may recognize the spirits that come from God: t every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
V. No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except under the influence of the Holy Spirit. t Every spirit ...
Second Reading        From Talks of Instruction by Meister Eckhart
All people are not called to God in one way, as Saint Paul says.
  • If then you find that your shortest way does not lead by many external works and great hardship or austerities - which, to be frank, are of no great importance, unless someone is specially impelled thereto by God, and has the power to do them well without injury to his inner life - if you do not find anything of this in yourself, be quite content and do not pursue it any further.
  • Then you might say: "If this is of little importance, why then did our ancestors and so many saints do this?" Then remember that our Lord gave them these practices and he also gave them the strength to carry them out and this was well pleasing to him on their part, and by so doing they were to achieve their salvation. For God has not restricted human salvation to any particular way of life. What one possesses another lacks. God gave efficacy to all good ways and it is not denied to any good practice. For one good thing is not opposed to another good thing.
  • Now you might say: "Our Lord Jesus Christ had at all times the highest way: we are in duty bound to follow him." That is quite true. It is right that we should follow our Lord, but not in every detail. Our Lord fasted forty days. No one should venture to follow him in this. Christ did many works with the intention that we should follow him in spirit, but not physically. Therefore one should strive to be able to follow him sensibly, for he aimed at our love rather than our works. We should always follow him in our own way. As I have often said, I think much more of a spiritual work than a physical work. What do I mean? Christ fasted forty days. Follow him by paying attention to the thing that you are most inclined to do or ready to do, renounce that and watch yourself well. It is often more fitting to keep yourself from anxiety than to abstain entirely from food.
  • In the same way, it is sometimes more difficult to suppress one word than to be absolutely silent. It is sometimes more difficult to endure one little contemptuous word of no importance than to receive a hard blow that one was expecting, and it is much harder to be alone in a crowd than in the desert. It is often harder to abandon a small thing than a great one and to do a small work rather than one which we consider great. Thus we can quite well follow our Lord according to the measure of our weakness, but we cannot and must not consider ourselves to be far from him.

Responsorial      1 Cor 12:4-7
There is a variety of gifts but the same Spirit; t there is a variety of
          service, but the same Lord. -
V. In each of us the Spirit is manifested in a particular way for the good of all. t There is a ...
First Reading
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Responsory        Rom 12:5; see 1 Pt 4:10; 1 Cor 12:21
We, though many, are one body in Christ, and as members of that body, we belong to one another. t Each of us has received a gift, so let us use it in mutual service, as good stewards of God's varied graces.
V. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor can the head say to the feet, I have no need of you. t Each of us ...
Second Reading
From a treatise by Hugh of Saint Victor
  • As breath passes from the head to the members of the body to give them life, so the Holy Spirit comes to Christians through Christ. The head is Christ, the members are Christians. There is one head and many members, a single body consisting of the head and its members, and in this single body a unique Spirit who is fully in the head, and in the members by participation. Since then there is one body and one Spirit, no one who is not in the body can be vivified by the Spirit; as scripture says: Anyone who does not possess the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Anyone who does not possess the Spirit of Christ is not a member of Christ. There is one Spirit in one body. Nothing belonging to the body is dead; nothing separated from the body is alive. By faith we become members; by love we come alive. By faith we receive union; by love animation. The sacrament of baptism unites us; the body and blood of Christ vivifies us. Through baptism we become members of the body; through the body of Christ we share in that body's vitality.
  • Holy Church is the body of Christ: one Spirit vivifies it, unites it through faith, and sanctifies it. The members of this body are individual believers, who all form one body because they have one Spirit and one faith. In the human body each member has its own distinctive function, but it is not exercised for itself alone. Likewise in the body of holy Church, the gifts of grace are distributed, but even if some gift is given to only one member, it is not for that member's exclusive use. Only the eyes see, yet they do not see for themselves alone but for the whole body. Only the ears hear, yet they do not hear for themselves alone but for the whole body. Only the feet walk, yet they do not walk for themselves alone but for the whole body. So it is that any gift possessed by only one person is not merely for that person's own use; for he who gives his gifts so generously and distributes them so wisely desires each of them to be for all, and all for each.
  • Thus it is by analogy with the human body that holy Church, that is, all believers, is called the body of Christ, for it has received the Spirit of Christ whose presence in a person is indicated by the name Christian which Christ has given him. This name designates Christ's members, those who share in the Spirit of Christ, those who are anointed by him who is the anointed one; for the name Christian comes from Christ, and Christ means anointed, anointed with that oil of gladness which he has received in fullness above all his fellows, in order to pour it out on all his companions as the head upon the members of the body: like precious ointment upon the head which runs down from the head to the beard and then to the edge of the garment to flow over all and give life to all. So it is that when you become a Christian, you become a member of Christ, a member of the body of Christ sharing in the Spirit of Christ.

          Responsory        Eph 4:11; Rom 12:6
Christ's gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, t to build up the body
of Christ.
. V. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them t to build up ...

Monday, 21 February 2011

"The Lord be with you" St. Peter Damian

The Reading of the Night Office conveyed the impression of St. Peter Damian gifted as some kind of a polymath, and impression of  strength of character of leadership. 
The course of  our Annual Retreat is focused on the Rule of St Benedict and Cistercian Community and Contemplative Life. One talk reminded me of  St. Peter Damian's, "Eleventh Treatise  entitled, The Book of 'The Lord be with you'. See excerpt below ...

Monday, 21 February 2011

St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (1007-1072)

Maybe because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor. It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs.  

Peter escaped poverty and the neglect of his own brother when his other brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing. His brother sent him to good schools and Peter became a professor.
Already in those days Peter was very strict with himself. He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer. Soon, he decided to leave his teaching and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of St. Romuald at Fonte Avellana. They lived two monks to a hermitage. Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia. He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself. When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.

The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him. Abbot Peter founded five other hermitages. He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself. The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, between two abbeys in dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.
Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He worked hard to wipe out simony, and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance. He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty and too comfortable living. He even wrote to the bishop of Besancon, complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.
He wrote many letters. Some 170 are extant. We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote. He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings. The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin.
He asked often to be allowed to retire as cardinal-bishop of Ostia, and finally Alexander II consented. Peter was happy to become once again just a monk, but he was still called to serve as a papal legate. When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever. With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on February 22, 1072.
In 1828 he was declared a Doctor of the Church
+ + +
The Book of ‘The Lord Be With You'
Many of the brethren, followers of the eremitic life, have asked me whether, since they live alone in their cells, it is right for them to say Dominus vobiscum, Jube, domne, benedicere, and the like; and whether, despite the fact that they are by themselves, they should say the responses, as the custom of the Church demands. Some of them argue the matter within themselves in this way: 'Are we to ask a blessing of the stones and furnishings of our cells, or say to them, "The Lord be with you?" , Others fear that if they depart in any way from the prescribed order of the Church they are guilty of sin, in so far as they are diminishing their duty of divine service. … 

Chapter Three
The phrase Dominus vobiscum is the priest’s greeting to the people; he prays that the Lord may be with them, in accordance with the words spoken by the Prophet: 'I shall dwell within them', and with those spoken by our Saviour to His disciples and all the faithful: 'Behold, I am with you.' This form of greeting, then, is no mere innovation instituted by human authority; it has the sanction of the ancient authority of the Scriptures. Anyone who examines the holy writings carefully will find many examples of its use, both in the singular and the plural. Did not the angel say to the blessed Mother of God: 'The Lord is with thee'? And to Gideon likewise: 'The Lord is with thee, thou mightiest of men'? In the book of Ruth, too, we read that Boaz greeted his harvesters with the words: 'The Lord be with you.' And in the Book of Chronicles we find that the prophet sent by God hailed Asa King of Juda and his army as they were returning in triumph from battle with these words: 'The Lord be with you, for you were with the Lord.'
When the Church receives the salutary greeting of the priest, she greets him in return, and in doing so prays that, as he has desired that the Lord may be with them, so He may deign to be with him. 'And with thy spirit', she replies, meaning: 'May almighty God be with your soul, so that you may worthily pray to Him for our salvation.' Notice that she says not 'with thee', but 'with thy spirit'; this is to remind us that ail things concerned with the services of the Church must be performed in a spiritual manner. And certainly God must prefer to be with a man's spirit, for it is the soul of a reasonable man that is made in God's image and likeness; it alone is capable of receiving divine grace and illumination.
And the greeting which the bishop gives his people: 'Peace be with you' or 'Peace to you', also has its roots in the authority of Holy Writ, and is not just the product of man's mind. For we read in the Old Testament that the angel said to Daniel 'Peace be to you'; and in the New Testament the Lord almost always greets His disciples with the words 'Peace to you.' And He commended the same form of greeting to His disciples, saying: 'Into whatsoever house you shall enter, salute it, saying:

Friday, 18 February 2011

Monthly Memorial - Office of the Dead

18th February Friday of the Sixth week in Ordinary Time

Office of the Dead
Community Mass was offered for the Monthly Memorial of deceased Brethren, Relatives, Associates and friends.
It was appropriate to mark the Month Mind of Franciscan Missionary of Mary, Sr. Mary Hynland. R.I.P. - the website of the Archdiocese of Gla

Acknowledgement  to Vincent Toal, Editor  

Night Office Reading
A Commentary on Death in the Psalms 

by Fr Charles Callan.  

  • All must finally die, rich and poor; high and low; strong and weak. At its best the longest earthly life is but a breath, and to people, worldly in the wrong sense, death can be a palling and chilling thought. Unless it is banished from the mind, it can cloud every bright prospect, sadden every joy, weigh down the strongest heart with gloomy foreboding. It is the certainty and finality of death that make it awful. Life is soon over, and the dead return no more. (p. 205 edit)   
  • To righteous and godly people, however, the state of the case is different.                                                                                                     From the sleep of death, they wake up to everlasting enjoyment. From the darkness of the grave they come forth into eternal morning light. There is a streaming glory ahead, waiting upon the incident of temporal death, which the psalms only glimpse partially and dimly, but really, growing out of the felt certainty that communion and fellowship with God in this life, cannot be interrupted hereafter. (p. 206 edit)   
  • Note therefore the advantage of the good Christian who knows, that for him, death is the gateway to life; to real abundant, overflowing eternal life. He is willing, to stay, but, only as long as God wants him to stay, as long as he can add to the glory of his heavenly Father, the sanctification of his own soul, and the good of his neighbour. … Apart from such motives and purposes, the present life and world have no strong hold on the true Christian who knows that he was made for, and even yearns for, better things. (p. 119 edit)

The Psalms, Charles Callan OP, 1944

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Mk 8:31Sacra Pagina The first Passion Prediction

In addition to the previous Post, there is further clarification from .....

Sacra Pagina MARK 8
The first Passion Prediction.. (8:27-38)
…….. page 260
30     ……..
31      he began to teach them: Mark uses the auxiliary verb archesthai ("begin") twentysix times in his gospel and twice here in successive verses (erxaio). Having accepted Peter's confession that he is the Messiah, Jesus now begins to explain the true nature of his messiahship and what it might mean for his followers. it is necessary: The impersonal verb de; ("it is necessary"), used here for the first time, carries an overtone of apocalyptic determinism and will become increasingly prominent as the gospel proceeds (see 9:11; 13:7, 10, 14; 14:31). It injects the idea of divine agency as God's plan unfolds in Jesus' Passion and in the end-time events (three occurrences in ch. 13). It also foreshadows Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane when he recognizes and accepts his imminent death as God's will (see 14:36). These events will take place according to the will of God.
the Son of Man: Last used in 2:28, this title for Jesus will also become prominent in what follows (see 8:38; 9:9, 12,31; 10:33,45; 13:26; 14:21, 41, 62). It appears in each of three Passion predictions (8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34). In the OT (Ezekiel and Daniel) there is no explicit connection between the Son of Man and suffering. be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes: In the Markan Passion narrative these three groups constitute the leaders of the Jewish opposition to Jesus. The Pharisees, so prominent in the controversy stories during Jesus' public ministry, will disappear in the Passion narrative. The "elders" represent the Jewish leaders, perhaps members of the Sanhedrin and other influential figures. The "chief priests" include primarily Annas and Caiaphas and the upper

Page 263 ……….
The journey begins in 8:27-30 with Peter's confession of Jesus as the Messiah. This serves as the starting point for the rest of the material in the journey narrative, which is designed to explain what kind of Messiah Jesus is and what implications this identity has for his followers. In 8:31-38 we meet a pattern that will be repeated in 9:30-37 and 10:32-45: a prediction of Jesus' Passion, death, and resurrection (8:31); a misunderstanding by his disciples (8:32-33); and instructions on true discipleship (8:34-38). The pattern in turn provides the framework for the other discourses and narratives along the way.

Mk.8:31 The first announcement of the suffering of our Lord


Thursday 17th Feb.
Mark 8:27-33 Passion foretold

Fr. Hugh introduces the Community Mass.
God is a God of surprises.
Our Lord asked the Apostles to describe his identity.
Who do you say I am?
They got it right.
And then, Our Lord gives them a little more information about Himself – he would suffer and be glorified but knocked them over.
But the cross is the way to glory.
Christ turned out to be something much greater than they imagined.

Mar 8:31-38 
He began to teach them, etc. For the first announcement of the suffering of our Lord, the rebuke of Peter, and the lesson concerning the cross, and saving the soul, see notes on Mat_16:21-28. Compare Luk_9:22-27. Mar_8:38 is peculiar to Mark in this connection, though given in Mat_10:32-33, on which see notes. (PNT)
Mat 16:21 -

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples. They were not strong enough to bear this teaching until they were convinced of his divinity.

And suffer many things. In this strange way carrying out the true idea of the Messiah (Isa. 53).

Of the elders and chief priests and scribes. The three constituents of the Sanhedrim.

MARK 8:31
31  And2532 he began756 to teach1321 them,846 that3754 the3588 Son5207 of man444 must1163 suffer3958 many things,4183 and2532 be rejected593 of575 the3588 elders,4245 and2532 of the chief priests,749 and2532 scribes,1122 and2532 be killed,615 and2532 after3326 three5140 days2250 rise again.450
1  et coepit docere illos quoniam oportet Filium hominis multa pati et reprobari a senioribus et a summis sacerdotibus et scribis et occidi et post tres dies resurgere
31  Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: "The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will rise to life."
31  και2532  ηρξατο756  διδασκειν1321  αυτους846  οτι3754  δει1163  τον3588  υιον5207  του3588  ανθρωπου444  πολλα4183  παθειν3958  και2532  αποδοκιμασθηναι593  απο575  των3588  πρεσβυτερων4245  και2532  αρχιερεων749  και2532  γραμματεων1122  και2532  αποκτανθηναι615  και2532  μετα3326  τρεις5140  ημερας2250  αναστηναι450  

Caesarea Philippi
Banias spring with Pan's cave on background
left with temenos and niches center 

The Doctrine of the Cross. 
pp.170-(R. Knox, The Gospel Story 171)

From that time onwards Jesus began to make it known to his disciples that the Son of Man must go up to Jeru­salem, and there, with much ill usage, be rejected by the chief priests and elders and scribes, and be put to death, and rise again on the third day. This he told them openly; whereupon Peter, drawing him to his side, began remon­strating with him; 'Never, Lord,' he said; 'no such thing shall befall you.'
. . .
A change now comes over the gospel story; a change in direc­tion. All roads have been leading to Caesarea Philippi; Peter's act of faith has been the objective of our Lord's instructions. He now turns his eyes towards Jerusalem; there he is to die. Peter has just confessed his belief that Jesus is God; he must remem­ber that he is also Man. They must get all ideas of an earthly triumph right out of their heads; as man he must suffer and die. And this at the hands of the accepted leaders of Israel, not the Gentiles. Up till this, our Lord has made only veiled references to his coming death (pp. 46, 48, 74, 146); this is the first clear, express declaration. Only faith in his divinity could stand up under this severe blow. Peter is shocked at the thought of it; the Master is overwrought; he needs cheering up. En­lightened by faith, Peter was solid rock; with human reason alone, he is a mere stone by the roadside. Our Lord is stern in his rebuke; he will not be turned aside from the way of the cross; Satan proposed this same way out to him when he suggested an alliance, at the beginning of his ministry (p. 36).
Jesus now points out the way to perfection: (1) The Cross. An expressive symbol of suffering, well understood by the Jews since the Roman occupation. It will take on a new meaning after Jesus' crucifixion. (2) Follow me. Not accompany me from place to place, but live my life; it is a personal, individual relation­ship, so well expressed by St. Paul (Galatians 2, 19-20).
The sombre prospect of the cross raised a difficulty about the speedy coming of the kingdom, promised by John (p. 30) and Jesus (p. 62). It will not be delayed long; it will be realized in the lifetime of at least some here today. (Actually the church was well established within thirty years. See Romans 10, 18.) 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Tre Fontane Abbey, EUR, Rome
Dom Giacomo Brière, Sup. 1994, Abbot 1996
Community Statistics 2009 Tre Fontane:
Total Monks 13, Choir Monks 11, Novice 1, Oblate 1. Non Stability 1.

Abbot Giacomo welcomed the group of
New Superiors Seminar, Rome Jan-Feb 2011
Abbot Giacomo welcomes visiting Superiors


Looking up hill to Monte Cistello, the former International OCSO College


The Story and the History is on the Website
Abbazia Tre Fontane
The ancient monastery of Ss. Vincent and Anastasius was founded in the 6th century by Cilician monks; it was later occupied by Benedictines. In 1140 it became Cistercian.  It was occupied by Franciscans in 1826; re-established by La Trappe in 1867 and raised to the rank of abbey in 1868.
1140: St. Bernard of Clairvaux sent Cistercians, under the leadership of Bernard Pganelli, who was the first abbot before being elected pope under the name of Eugene III in 1145.
The abbey was held by Cistercians until 1826, but was pillaged by revolutionary armies and counted only a small number of monks.
1826: Given to the Observant Friars Minor.  They remain until 1867, but the monastery decays even further.
1867: Trappists took over at the invitation of Pius IX.
1868: A Brief of 21 April grants the community use of the monastery, three churches and a small property.  One of the first occupants is Fr. Franz Pfanner, future founder of Marianhill.
1870-71: The community is dissolved by a rapacious government.  The monks were allowed to remain as guardians and received a salary.
1874, 11 November: The monks form an agricultural corporation.
1886, 8 April: The acts of “affrancazione”.  The community, being an agricultural corporation, becomes owner of the property by the payment of an annual royalty. The monastery lands had long been infested with malaria.  Many monks came down with the disease and paid for their devotion with their lives.  The community need help to live and to pay the annual indemnity.
1892: At the union of the 3 Trappist congregations it was decided that the abbot general would be abbot of Tre Fontane and reside there.  In fact, that never came about, but in view of this arrangement the community is governed for some time by priors.
1894: A monk of Sept-Fons, Fr. Leon Ehrard, is sent to Tre Fontane.  He becomes cellarer, then prior, and finally abbot in 1919.  His hard work and intelligence transform the situation and the abbey flourishes both spiritually and materially.
1936: The community is juridically recognized, according to the laws of the Concordat with Italy and the property of the agricultural corporation was transferred to it.  The annuities had been paid.
1942: Part of the property was expropriated for the construction of a future exposition (E.U.R. - Esposizione universale di Roma), which never took place.  This became today’s EUR district.
As the city of Rome expanded, the greater part of the property had to be sold.  Today only 30 hectares remain.

Mk. 8:22-26 Blind Man of Betsaida

Community Mass
Jesus heals Blind Mk. 8

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Nivard - - -
Sent: Tue, 15 February, 2011 17:13:13
Subject: 6 Wk Thurs Blind Man Bethsaida  

In today’s Gospel St Mark, (8:22-26),
tells us that the blind man replied, "I see people looking like trees and walking." He could see everything distinctly.
   Jesus put spittle on his eyes, placed his hands on him and asked him whether he could see anything.
Knowledge always comes by degrees. It is only after a great deal of time and a long apprenticeship that we are able to reach perfect knowledge.
   First the impurities are removed, blindness goes, and so light enters. To teach perfectly it comes from the Lord's mouth. The Lord's spittle, which comes out, so to speak, from his substance comes under-standing. The word coming forth from his mouth is a word that effects a cure.  
   Like the blind man, we need only the touch of Jesus, as we do in receiving Holy Communion, and we will find healing for soul and body.
+ + +
Commentary of the day
Saint Jerome (347-420), priest, translator of the Bible, Doctor of the Church 
Homilies on Saint Mark's Gospel, n°8, 235 (trad. SC 494, p. 143)

« Open my eyes that I may consider the wonders of your Law» (Ps 119[118], 18)
Jesus put spittle on his eyes, placed his hands on him and asked him whether he could see anything.
Knowledge always comes by degrees...
It is only after a great deal of time and a long apprenticeship that we are able to attain perfect knowledge.
First the impurities are removed, blindness goes, and thus light enters.
The Lord's spittle is perfect teaching: to teach perfectly it comes from the Lord's mouth.
The Lord's spittle, which comes forth, so to speak, from his substance, is understanding, just as the word coming forth from his mouth is a cure...

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Abbazia delle Tre Fontane, Rome

New Superiors Seminar, Rome Jan-Feb 2011
In-service training and appropriate learning from the Eternal City.
The venue for the Seminar was in the neighbourhood of the Cistercian (Trappist) monastery of Tre Fontane.
It was an excellent opportunity to visit the Abbey. 
The Abbot welcomed the international representative group. 
Mark succeeeded in having a fine collection of photos and this is easily augmented from the The Abbazia delle Tre Fontane Website:  

 The Abbey
 Cloister Garth
From memory I am mystified by two Chapels, near to the monastery.
The Website provides information on these two sanctuaries below.

Church of the Martyrdom of St. Paul

Open: 8.00 to 13.00, from 15.00 to 18.00 (winter) or 19.00 (summer).
Confessions: Saturday: 16:30 to 17:30 - Sunday: 11:00 to 12:00
S. Mass: Saturday 17.00, Sunday 11.30.
Phone: 06 540 39 96.
To get to St. Paul's Church must take a short tree-lined avenue, which it leaves behind the church of Saints Vincent and Anastasius and Santa Maria Scala Coeli. This is the church dedicated to the martyrdom of St. Paul and is the highest and most sacred historic and spiritual significance of the Abbey of Tre Fontane. Even in this case the history of mankind has led to a stratification of a building built on the ruins of the other, the last of which dates back to 1599, when it was pulled down the old existing building and built in its place the work of Giacomo della port commissioned by Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini. The external facade of the church of San Paolo is an alternation of brick and travertine used for the decorative elements of the portal, cornices and capitals. Two statues overlook the gable of the facade: those of St. Peter and St. Paul, made from "Franciosini" sculptor of Lorraine, whose real name was Nicolas Cordier, who, between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, he worked for the Vatican .
Also St. Peter and St. Paul are the subjects of these two reliefs on the side walls of the vestibule, immediately after entering, the area that corresponds to the ancient oratory. The two works were donated by Pope Pius IX, the first in memory of the eighteenth centenary of the death of the Apostle, the second in memory of the defeat of Garibaldi's troops, November 3, 1867, by papal dell'esecito ("in memoriam victoriae to Nomentum). The floor of the vestibule is partly occupied by a mosaic, existing at the time of construction of the church and was left where it was.
High up in the lunette above the door, past the marble plaque commemorating the name of the purchaser of the work, Cardinal Aldobrandini at the time of the papacy of Clement VIII, is represented in the burial of St. Paul on the Via Ostiense, in a seal of the matron Lucina, where there will be then built the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. 
From the vestibule you enter the nave, cross over the entrance, with two chapels on the sides and the apse at the center. On the floor was placed a Roman mosaic discovered in Ostia Antica near Mitreo the Imperial Palace, it dates from the second century AD and is dedicated to the Four Seasons, it bears the inscriptions: VER (spring) - AESTAS (Summer) - AUTU ( MNUS) (autumn) - HIEMS (winter). It was donated to the church by Pope Pius IX. The two altars of the chapels are topped with paintings, one on the left, on the altar dedicated to St. Peter, represents the copy of the "Crucifixion" by Guido Reni (1575-1642) whose original is kept in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, after the French had brought to Paris as a result of the Treaty of Tolentino (February 19, 1797) and then returned in 1815, the altar of the right is dedicated to St. Paul and is surmounted by the blade of the beheading, by the Bolognese Passarotti Bartholomew (1529 - 1592).
Both paintings are topped by pediments supported by columns of precious marble. On the left of the altar of St. Paul, the column is truncated where tradition has been linked during the Apostle's martyrdom.
The three fountains are aligned along the wall of the nave, at equal distance from each other but at different level from the floor, arranged in niches in niche. The sources, closed since 1950, are surmounted by shrines designed by the door, in black marble columns of Chios, which support timpani arc basin with marble and each shrine was adorned with a bas-relief depicting the head of Nicolas Cordier Apostle: unfortunately we can no longer enjoy because stolen.
Behind the shrine of the central source on the wall of the apse, representing the martyrdom of St. Paul on this, in the basin, there is the "Glory of the Apostle," interpret the description of the revelations of Santa Maria d'Oigny , that the soul of St. Paul was presented to the SS. Trinity by the martyr Stephen. Above, in the lunette, a fresco depicting St. Paul at Caesarea before Porcius Festus, the Roman governor said that the appeal of all'Impertore saying: "Appellasti to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go."
That this is the place where St. Paul was martyred is a large marble plaque to testify; mail on the lintel of the external front, it gives the building to the cardinal and Aldobrandini bears the inscription: "Site of the martyrdom of St. Paul where three sources miraculously gushed "According to ancient tradition, the apostle here was taken June 29 to 67 be beheaded. His head, took off, jumped to the ground three times and on those three points three sources of water miraculously gushed.
Certainly, the story includes a series of real events, documented by numerous archaeological findings and historical documentation. An Act apocryphal, probably added later, contains the description of the martyrdom of St. Paul and the miracle: "Explaining the veil of Plautilla is bandaged his eyes, leaned both his knees on the ground and handed the head, that quickly with a large blow severed, was heard by all pronounce loudly for three times in the Hebrew language, the lovely name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and at the same time from the neck and head of the Apostle spurted a 'wave of milk on the executioner's robes and the earth. " The document also states that the waters were the site of the martyrdom Hi, the shade of an ancient pine tree. In fact, excavations in 1878 confirmed the presence of a pine forest in the area: "In very deep cupping practiced a few feet away from the scene of the beheading, present credible witnesses, were found many cones that the effects of time and chemical reactions of the soil had almost fossilized, three well logs of pine and a certain amount of coins from the times of Nero. "Also, previously, GB de Rossi, during another excavation, identified the remains of a church and a number of inscriptions that revealed the presence of a cemetery area near the church of Santa Maria Scala Coeli; other findings by the end of seventh century gave evidence of the presence of a chapel in memory of the Apostle who was restored or rebuilt by Pope Sergius I in 689, it consisted of a hall that led into two chapels, which contained the sacred springs - two in a chapel and a in the other.

hurch of Santa Maria Scala Coeli

Open: 8.00 to 13.00, from 15.00 to 18.00 (winter) or 19.00 (summer).
S. Mass: Monday to Friday: 16.30.
In 1138 San Bernardo, in the place where today stands the church of Santa Maria Scala Coeli, while he was celebrating a Mass for the dead, in the presence of Pope Innocent II, had a vision in a trance, he saw a stairway that, in a continual coming and going, the Angels led the liberated souls to heaven from purgatory. This event comes from the name given to the Church, the smallest of the three in the abbey.
In principle, the name "Scala Coeli" was given to the existing church oratory, in turn, allegedly built on the ruins of a pagan temple in memory of the martyrdom of San Zeno and the legionnaires' Christians. 
The current church building, brick and travertine, dates back to the sixteenth century, the work was started in 1582 by Giacomo della Porta, on commission of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, and ended in 1584, when Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini was the successor to Cardinal Farnese following his death. 
The church is octagonal, surmounted by a dome and a lantern, the facade is complemented by a tympanum and an eye placed in a lunette, also you can see, added to the ledge left of the façade with a piece of marble pluteus inscription dating from the ninth century. The lintel of the door reads, between the emblems of the Farnese, under a small gable, the word "Scala Coeli"
Inside there are three apses with their altars. The right one is dedicated to San Zeno and the Roman soldiers martyred, there was a canvas for decoration, author unknown, but it was stolen. Yet instead of the canvas (again by an unknown author) of the central altar, one at the front entrance of the church and dedicated to SS. Virgin. The left apse contains an altar dedicated to St. Bernard and embellished by two columns with Corinthian capitals and a shovel Desiderio de Angelis in depicting the scene of the vision of the saint.
The Florentine Francesco Zucchi, designed by Giovanni de Vecchi, is the author of the fine mosaic, executed in 1591, decorating the vault of the church, the composition is a Madonnna and Child surrounded by St. Bernard, St. Clement and Robert of Molesmes VIII - right - and - left - from St. Vincent, and Cardinal Sant'Anastasio Aldobrandini. 
The floor of this chapel had been decorated, but now the ancient mosaic of Cosmati work of the school, there are only a few tracks together with a fragment of an inscription dating from the third Christian century. 
Below is the crypt, which houses an altar dedicated to San Zeno century martyrs and soldiers, on whose sides two windows allowing a glimpse - left - a small altar dedicated to the pagan goddess and Dia - right - a corner where, according to tradition, St. Paul was imprisoned before decapitation. Of the two frescoes representing a San Zeno and the other soldiers and martyrs St. Paul in prison, only one is left.
The church also houses the remains of the Cistercian Ferdinando Ughelli, abbot of the monastery, who died in 1670, was famous for having built the monumental nine-volume "Sacred Italy, built between 1644 and 1662, the history of the Italian episcopal sees. 
The church is a plaque which says that Giacomo della Porta has acted on the basis of designs of Vignola: the information is not documented, however, at the time of the construction of the church door was considered the most important architect of the Vatican , and contributed his