Pilgrimage and its Effects on San Paolo Fuori le Mura during the Middle Ages

Pilgrimage and its Effects on San Paolo Fuori le Mura during the Middle Ages

By Alisa Cotter

Proceedings of the 4th Annual GRASP Symposium, Wichita State University (2008)

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to examine the history of San Paolo fuori le mura (Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls), the basilica in Rome dedicated to St. Paul, in order to demonstrate the impact that pilgrimage had on the development of its church structure and interior ornamentation. Several factors played a key role in this basilica’s importance as a pilgrimage destination throughout the Middle Ages. I will argue that while the papacy’s attempts to attract pilgrims to this particular church were primarily motivated by economic considerations, the various methods they employed contributed to the basilica’s architectural development. During the Middle Ages one of the most important factors contributing to the overflow of pilgrims traveling to San Paolo fuori le mura was the institution of the Christian Jubilee. The papal bull issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1300 C.E., greatly increased the number of pilgrims visiting Rome, and, in particular to the church dedicated to St. Paul. The paper concludes that during the Middle Ages, the popularity of this site as a holy journey destination was one of the main factors which brought about changes to its overall structure and for the addition of lavish decorative elements.

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