One of the best things about exploring Rome is the labyrinth of wonder which lies just a meter or so below the Eternal City and so it was that I recently happened upon the church of Santa Maria in Via Lata. So, what, you say? Well, this church is believed to have been the home of St. Luke, the apostle, and thought to be the oratory where St. Paul was kept under house arrest for two years during the 1st century. Who knew?
I thought the day would be just another rainy day of shopping along Via del Corso amid throngs of annoying tourists. At first, I stepped inside the cloister of the Doria Pamphilj Gallery just to get out of the rain and it wasn’t until I rejoined the wet mass of humanity on the Corso that I came upon the church of wonder next door.
Several people were taking shelter from the storm under the portico, yet the wanderlust woman in me paid the €2 to venture below ground. I always feel like Indiana Jones’ kid sister when I set off on these adventures.
As I descended downstairs, I could feel this was something special and had no idea just how special until I stepped back into the time of the Apostles. I was awestruck. This was where Saint Luke wrote his tales for the Bible. This was where he hosted Saint Peter and where Saint Paul was under house arrest for two years. They even have the chain they believe was used by a Roman soldier for that purpose…..no electronic ankle bracelets in those days.
The altar is still in situ and fonts for holy water are still attached to the wall, as they were in biblical times. This is fascinating for a Catholic school survivor. Every kid has a favorite saint and St. Paul was mine because he was a romantic. Sure, he preached ancient church dogma, heck he created it, that woman cleaving unto man and hence she belongs to him…..whatever, he made you think:
“13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 13:10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with.” – First Corinthians
He preached these words to whomever sought council while under house arrest, here, in ancient Rome, just a meter or so below where we mere mortals walk today.