di San Paolo
Fuori le Mura
p. Roberto Dotta
Via Ostiense, 186
CITTÀ DEL VATICANO
p. Roberto Dotta
Community of San Paolo FLM
The Benedictine Abbey of Saint Paul outside the Walls is linked to the Homonym Basilica as it has its origins from the first monastic communities founded around the Tomb of the Apostle Paul, together with the desire of various Popes to have a constant presence of monks to guarantee perennial prayer and praise around the tomb. The monastery has therefor acquired its character from the place and the time in which the monks found themselves working in their ministry mainly directed towards the celebration of the Liturgy and sacramental life of the Church as well as managing the ample feudal patrimony and to the study of the sacred and profane sciences. This academic activity is considered the seed of what would become the Athenaeum, presently housed at Saint’ Ansel on the Aventine.
From the XV Century, the Abbey was part of the Congregation de Unitate or of Saint Giustina of Padua, later known as the Cassinese Congregation. In 2003 the parish was suppressed and shortly afterwards any remaining territory belonging to the Abbey. From 2005 to 2015 the abbot primate was taking care of the Abbey. At present the monastery is under the jurisdiction of the abbot president.
Saint Gregory II, considered the true founder of the Monastery, decided that two of the monasteries mentioned by Saint Gregory the Great should be united and gave the mission to the monks to take on the care of the Tomb of the Apostle. During the centuries, the monastery has known periods of great spiritual, cultural, artistic and economic expansion but also period of real laxity in the discipline and observance of the Rule. Among the reformers were: Odo of Cluny; the monk Hildebrand (Gregory VII); Cardinal Condulmer (Eugene IV) who linked the monastery to the new Congregation de Unitate. The monastery has had a particular relationship with the English monarchs, who used to venerate the tombs of the apostles and from the late Middle Ages they exercised the role of Protector of the Abbey (this is shown by the Stemma and Motto of the Order of the Garter next to the Abbots’ Armorial Bearings). In 1837 Dom Prosper Gueranger pronounced his monastic profession in the Basilica. Despite the suppression of the religious orders, the monks of Saint Paul remained as custodians of the Basilica. In the XX century, two great figures emerged: Dom Placid Riccardi and the Abbot Ildefonso Schuster (later cardinal archbishop of Milan). On 25th January 1959 Pope John XXIII announced here for the first time his intention to convene an Ecumenical Council.
- From 1968 every two years the Benedictine monks organize the Ecumenical Colloquium Paulinum, a week of scientific studies among exegetes from different Christian traditions about Saint Paul letters. Every year the monks are responsible for the Week of Christian Unity which precedes the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, inviting a group of faithful of another Christian denomination with their pastor to celebrate Evening Prayer.
- The liturgical life of the Basilica is entrusted to the monks who take care of the daily celebrations and of the ministry of confessions by mandate of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The music office takes care of solemn liturgies and other celebrations as well as the activities of the in-house and external choirs and the organization of some concerts. There is also a collaboration with the chaplaincy of the University of Roma Tre.
- The monastery offers rooms in the guesthouse to host monks from other monasteries residing in Rome for studies and for lay people (men only) wishing to spend some days in spiritual retreat. The historical archive and the library are open regularly to the public. The Botanic Garden, with lots of medicinal and biblical plants, can also be visited.
- The monastic pharmacy sells medicinal and alimentary products based on monastic recipes and dermocosmesis products. The sartorial workshop sells liturgical vestments and sacred vessels.