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San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura

San Sebastiano Fuori le Mura (97)

The basilica of Saint Sebastián at the Catacombs or Saint Sebastian outside the walls, or in Italian, San Sebastiano fuori le mura. 

This is the place where the early Christian tombs are to be found, and they are known as catacombs by the name of the valley in which they were excavated. Also, in the church of San Sebastiano, one of the seven destinations of pilgrimage to Rome, you will be able to find the tomb of the Saint.

Saint Sebastian was a Roman officer condemned to death for preaching Christianity to the troops. It is said he survived the execution squad that covered him in arrows and for this reason he was taken before Emperor Diocletian, who ordered him to be whipped to death.

In 1609 Cardinal Scipio Borghese commissioned the construction of the current church over a pre-existing basilica built by Constantine.

Once you enter this Baroque church, you will see in the first chapel on the left a white marble statue that represents Saint Sebastian with arrow wounds. It is a sculpture by Antonio Giorgetti, designed by Bernini.

You will find four different levels of catacombs here, although only the second level can be visited these days. The most important rooms are decorated with paintings and mosaics that date from the early years of Christianity.

If you go down to these catacombs you will reach the crypt of the saint, where his remains are in an urn, one of the arrows that killed him as well as a part of the column to which he was tied during the execution. 

The chapel of the relics contains a stone that it is said has the footprints of Jesus, taken from the nearby church of Domine Quo Vadis ("Lord, Where are you going?"), built in 1637 in the place where Saint Peter, fleeing from Rome, met Jesus.

Also here are the hands of Saint Callistus and Saint Andrew. All these relics have been venerated by pilgrims for centuries. 

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