Day 13 – Friday, September 22: Navona Square, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Mamertine Prison, Forum, Colosseum, Catacombs 

 

Today was our second and last full day in Rome. The weather was overcast, but at least the predicted showers did not come. Temps were about 75 again. We walked most of the day, adding about 5 miles to our total for the tour. We read from Romans 3 & 6 as we left the hotel about 8 am.

 

Navona Square, Pantheon & Trevi Fountain

We began our day by visiting the Navona Square. This was once the large stadium of Domitian here. Today, three fountains and many shops stand in the place where the stadium once was. We then walked to the Pantheon, the largest dome built in the ancient world. Most confidently date the building to the Emperor Hadrian’s reign (although the first structure built here dates to 27 BC) and describe its purpose as a temple to all the gods. There is a hole in the middle of the roof. Passing by a large 2nd century AD temple (dedicated to the deified emperor Hadrian by his adoptive son and successor Antoninus Pius in 145 AD), we arrived at the famous Trevi Fountain. We enjoyed some good Italian gelato here as we took 30 minutes to rest from our morning walking. The place wasn’t too packed with people as it normally is.

 

Mamertine Prison

From here we walked to an area near the Victorinio Emmanuel Venezia monument (built between 1871-1911). Nearby we visited the Mamertine Prison. Here stands a Catholic Church called St. Joseph’s of the Carpenters. Beneath this structure are the remains of the traditional site of the imprisonments of the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter in Rome. This prison was simply known as “Carcer” (“prison”) in Paul’s day. The term “Mamertine” was attributed to the prison in the Medieval Period.

The Carcer was the only prison in ancient Rome. When someone was sentenced to death, they were brought here to await execution. Below the upper chamber is a circular room called the Tullianum. Prisoners entered the Tullianum from the Carcer by being lowered through a hole in the Carcer’s floor. According to tradition, the apostle Peter caused the well-water to spring up so that he might baptize his jailors. It is debated, however, whether Peter was actually incarcerated here.

The state rarely incarcerated common criminals, but kept the Mamertine Prison for political prisoners doomed for execution by being thrown off the Tarpeian Rock. Enemies of the State were often strangled in the Tullianum. A door in the chamber offered access to the Cloaca Maxima (Rome’s sewer system), and it is thought that the bodies of executed prisoners may have been carried out through there Because of its association with Paul and Peter, the Mamertine Prison has been used as a place of worship since roughly the 7th century. (note: the above information about the prison is credited to Dr. Todd Bolen).

 

Roman Forum

Next, we entered the Roman Forum. We past by all kinds of Roman structures, pillars, and the open area of this ancient marketplace. Standing by the Basilica of Julia and the Temple of Castor & Pollux, we read from Acts 28 (28:11 mentions these two “twin gods” of Jupiter, gods of protection for sea-farers and warriors), and Romans 15 and 16. Flowing Paul’s successful ministry here in Rome (and probably in Spain), he comes back to Rome where he is tried most likely in the Basilica of Julia. He was beheaded in 67 AD. God used him in amazing ways to spread the Gospel to so many! It was special to stand nearby where he was condemned to death. He gave his life for the cause of Christ!

Also in the Forum we saw the Arch of Septimuis and Severus, the temples of Zeus (Jupiter), Vesta, and Romulus. These were later converted to churches. Finally, we saw the Arch of Titus. Inside the arch is an image of the Menorah of the Jerusalem Temple taken in 70 AD.  We exited the Forum where we enjoyed lunch (many had pizza again!).

 
“We came to our final day in Rome. We walked a lot and saw many things, including Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, and Colosseum, the Catacombs, and more! God blessed us with great weather throughout our trip. Praise God.”
Titus Arch Rome, Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey

The Colosseum

Following launch we walked to the famous Colosseum. It was built between 72-80 AD. The first few years was just to prepare the foundation and lower levels. In this area once stood a large colossal statue of Nero. Over 300 tons of iron (e.g. pins) was used to hold the structure together. The Colosseum held up to 50,000 people. Gladiators fought here for 450 years against both animals and other men. 16o statues lined the facade of the Colosseum. Eighteen brick factories in Rome were used to build it. It stood about 160 high. The last use of the Colosseum was 523 AD. Later, two earthquakes destroyed about half of this structure.

Going inside the Colosseum was amazing! We first went to the top for a panoramic view. We then descended down to the lower level. 54 lifts or trap doors were used to lift both animals and gladiators. By 1714, Pope Benedict proclaimed the Colosseum a holy place because of the number of Christian martyrs killed here. From the Colosseum we we had a good view of Constantine’s Arch. This was built in 315, primarily from re-used stone from previous emperors. It is one of seven arches still standing today.

 

Catacombs

The bus picked us up outside the Forum and drove us past the Circus Maximus (a stadium that held 300,000 people). More Christians were actually killed here than at the Colosseum. We arrived at the Domitilla Catacombs. This is one of of three underground cemeteries in Rome open to the public (a total of 62 catacombs have been discovered). This one was the a Christian graveyard and it dates from about 200-500 AD. This catacombs here consist of 3 labyrinth layers of graves spanning about 8 miles. It is believed that there were 27,000 tombs here. It was incredible to see so many of them. It was a cool 60 degrees down below.

We ended the day by being driven back to the hotel for one last great dinner. After dinner, we retired to bed because of our early departure times for most of us tomorrow. It has been a wonderful trip and extension, following in the footsteps of Paul.

 

Day 14 – Saturday, September 22: Rome, Arrive Back Home

The Pantheon Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Marmentine Prison Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Roman Colosseum Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Trevi Fountain Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Roman Forum Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey
Catacombs Rome Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey

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