|San Paolo alla Regola|
|English name:||St Paul at the Place of Teaching|
|Titular church||Francesco Monterisi|
|Address:|| Via di San Paolo alla Regola 6 |
|Phone:||06 68 80 24 08|
|Fax:||06 68 80 54 91|
San Paolo alla Regola is a Baroque convent and titular church dedicated to St Paul the Apostle, located at Via di San Paolo alla Regola 6 in the rione Regola. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons. 
The Acts of the Apostles describe how St Paul was allowed to rent his own lodgings, and to hold assemblies where he instructed the first Christians at Rome, while waiting for the trial before the Emperor. Tradition claims that this church is built on the site where he lived and taught in this period, and it is believed that his room is preserved therein. In favour of this tradition, there is some evidence that tanners worked along the bank of the Tiber here, which would make it a logical place for a tentmaker to settle. Also, it is known from a 2nd century Life of St Paul that he hired a granary for his meetings, and excavations behind the church conducted from 1978 to 1982 led to the conclusion that it was very likely that there was a granary at the site.
However, this tradition conflicts with another claiming that he lived at the site of Santa Maria in Via Lata. The alternative possibility is that the church descended from a guild chapel belonging to a brotherhood of leatherworkers and tanners, whose patron St Paul is, and that the legend was invented to fit.
The origins of the church are not documented. By tradition, it was founded by Pope Sylvester I in the 4th century next to the oratory which had been created out of St Paul's single-room residence. However, the first documentary evidence is only from 1186. It belonged to an Augustinian convent in the Middle Ages, and was made into a parish church in the 16th century. It did not perform this function for long, because in 1619 it was granted to the Sicilian branch of the Third Order Franciscans (Terz'Ordine Regolare di San Francisco or TOR) who were financed by the King of Spain. They built a large convent and college adjacent, and set about rebuilding the church. This was begun in 1687 but only completed in 1728. In the process another old church called San Cesario, which was adjacent, was demolished in order to make room for a more dignified building. The original plans were drawn up by Giovanni Battista Borgonzoni, one of the brethren, revised by Giacomo Ciolli and completed by Giuseppe Sardi . The last-named was responsible for the façade.
The college survived until the sequestrations of the late 19th century, and the church remained in the administration of the TOR until the early 21st. It is now run by members of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Society of Apostolic Life of pontifical right, and was opened to the public again after restoration in 2008. The TOR remain in possession.
The church was established as a cardinal deaconry in 1946 by Pope Pius XII. It had three cardinal deacons since then: from 1958 until 1960 Cardinal Giuseppe Fietta held the title, and from 1962 until 1971 Cardinal Michael Browne, O.P. who was the Master General of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). The present incumbent is Francesco Monterisi, since 2010.
The nave is square, with four pillars supporting a false dome which is covered by a pitched and tiled roof through which the lantern protrudes. The façade fronts a shallow entrance bay, and on the other side of the nave is a long, narrow rectangular presbyterium with an internal semi-circular apse. To the left of this is the sacristy, and to the right is the Oratory of St Paul; these three elements are under the same pitched and tiled roof which is slightly lower than that of the nave. The Oratory has a rectangular plan, and should not be confused with the Oratory of St James which was further down the Via del Conservatorio and which is now demolished.
The two-storey stucco façade on a stone plinth, which looks impressive after the restoration, is bowed in an ogee curve. The first storey has six derivative Corinthian pilasters, two pairs flanking the main door and a pair at the outer corners. This storey gives the impression that the church has aisles, which is not the case. Two much smaller subsidiary doors are between the paired pilasters, and all three doors have plain doorcases. Above the main door is a floating arc moulding, and above the side doors are two vertical blank capsule-shaped panels. The outer sections of this storey have a pair of large blank rectangular panels with chamfered corners.
The pilasters support an entablature the frieze of which carries an inscription: Gentium doctori divo Paolo Apostolo Collegium Siculum Tert[ii] Ord[inis] S[ancti] Francisci ("The Sicilian college of the Third Order of St Francis, [dedicated to] the divine Paul the teacher of the Gentiles"). The second storey has four Corinthian pilasters of the same style flanking a large rectangular recessed window having a balcony with a solid balustrade. These pilasters support an entablature the central section of which is recessed as well. Above the window is a relief of St Paul holding his sword of martyrdom inside an oval tondo, and above the entablature is an ogival pediment containing a recessed coat of arms. Finally, there is a crowning pilaster finial supporting a wire cross.
Oratorio di San Giacomo dei CappellariEdit
The complex included a separate oratory used by the guild of cloak-makers (cappellari), which was slightly further down the Via del Conservatorio beyond the right hand side wall of the Oratory of St Paul. It was separated from the latter by a very narrow entrance passage, and was also aligned along the street. The two oratories were the same size and shape.
The dedication of this oratory was to St James the Great. It was demolished in the 20th century, and the site is now under a very large modern building.
The very attractive and highly decorated Baroque interior is designed around the central dome on its four pillars. There are three chapels on each side, which are taken in clockwise order.
The first chapel on the left is dedicated to St Anthony of Padua, and the altarpiece depicting the saint is by Giacinto Calandrucci. The second chapel is dedicated to St Anne, and the altarpiece by the same artist shows her receiving the Child Jesus from Our Lady. The vault of this chapel is frescoed by Salvatore Monosilio. The third chapel on the left is dedicated to Our Lady of Graces, and contains a venerated 14th century icon of her breastfeeding the Child Jesus. This was apparently originally in the church of San Cesario.
The sacristy is to the left of the presbyterium, and over its door off the latter chapel is a painting of Our Lady with the Christ Child and St Clare by Biagio Puccini (1675-1713) who was a native Roman artist. The sacristy, panelled in walnut, was completed in 1736 and has a fresco on the internal dome by the Bavarian Ignaz Stern (1679-1748).
The apse behind the main altar has three frescoes by Luigi Garzi depicting, left to right, St Paul preaching, being converted and being martyred. In the apse below these is a semi-circular set of 17th century choir stalls in walnut wood. The altar itself is decorated with polychrome stonework in alabaster and marble.
The residence of St Paul is to the right of the presbyterium. Over its door is an oval painting by an artist named Puccini showing St Bonaventure in ecstasy, being watched by St Thomas Aquinas (those who know the history of the competition between the mendicant orders will marvel at a Franciscan being admired by a Dominican!). The residence has an altar with a green marble cross, and above this is a modern mosaic by Eugenio Cisterna showing the apostle teaching in chains and with his soldier custodian. On the right side is an old inscription dating to 1096 listing a collection of relics then at San Cesario.
The third chapel on the right is dedicated to the Crucifixion, and contains a bronze crucifix by Alessandro Algardi of Bologna (1598-1654). The second chapel on the right is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi, and has an altarpiece of him receiving the stigmata by Michele Rocca da Parma (1666-1751). This has been erroneously attributed to Il Parmigiano. The first chapel on the right is dedicated to St Rosalia, and the altarpiece features her with SS Clare and Rose of Viterbo . The artist is not certainly known. The painting above of the martyrdom of St Erasmus is by Puccini.
The excavations in the latter 20th century have left a very interesting set of ancient underground chambers and passages under this church, although they also extend under neighbouring properties. There is an article in Italian on them on the "Roma Sotteranea" link below.
Note on accessEdit
The church is expected to be open daily, 10:00 to 12:30 and 17:00 to 20:00. On Sundays, it opens an hour later in the mornings and closes an hour earlier in the evenings.
Mass is only in the evenings, 19:30 on weekdays and 18:00 on Sundays.
Church's website ("under construction" 2011)