The Abbey of the Three Fountains, located off the busy Via Laurentina in south east Rome, is where association members met on a rainy Saturday morning. Greeted by their guide Silvia and a larger than life statue of Saint Benedict, hushing visitors as they enter the abbey to ora et labora.
The monastery is the site of three churches, the church of St. Paul, the church of Santa Maria Scala Coeli and the church of Saints Vincent and Anastasius. The site is best known for the martyrdom of St. Paul the Apostle who was imprisoned and eventually beheaded on these grounds. Tradition says that his severed head fell and bounced three times and on each bounce, a fountain of water sprang.
We visited the Church of SS Vincent and Anastasius, an unadorned church echoing the simplicity of the site, built by Pope Honorius I in 626 and given to the Benedictines who occupied the site at that time.
At the end of a pathway used for meditation, lies the Church of St. Paul, built on the spot where the apostle was beheaded. St. Paul’s is a small unconventional chapel with the alter situated on the left. A tribute to the three fountains occupies the back wall whilst the centre nave displays a beautiful Roman mosaic donated by Pope Piux IX, said to have been brought here from the port of Ostia.
Today the abbey is occupied by the monks of the Cistercian order, more commonly known as the Trappists. Famous for their lambswool which is used to make the vestments of new archbishops. They also make and sell homemade beer, chocolate and other produce from the eucalyptus trees surrounding the site. Our tour terminated with a visit to the shop where members were able to purchase some of the local delicacies. Thank you Silvia, for a lovely morning!