The Martyrdom of St. Paul


The details on St. Paul's death are not very well-recorded, so it is uncertain the exact date and details of his martyrdom.

St. Paul had lived as a Christian missionary for many years, going on three missionary journeys, and escaping death more than once. He had been imprisoned in Rome after being accused by some Jews of having brought Gentiles into the Temple. He appealed to Caesar on the grounds of being a Roman citizen, and as a result was allowed to remain in Rome to be tried instead of being sent to Jerusalem. His trial is assumed to have ended in his acquittal sometime around 65 after being held for several years, at which point it seems he went to Macedonia. Upon his return to Rome, he was arrested once again and imprisoned. Because he was a Roman citizen, he received a different punishment than some other criminals of the time (who were often crucified), and was beheaded between 66-68 AD at Aquae Salviae, which is now known as Tre Fontane.

Legend says that his head bounced three times, and a fountain sprung up at each stop – hence the name Tre Fontane, or Three Fountains. His body was taken about two miles away to be buried in land owned by a friend, where the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was later built.


To learn more about St. Paul or the Pauline Year, visit the Pauline Year page.

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