What was it like to be a Christian in the early days of Christianity? Journey with Dr. Edward Sri in this special episode as he takes a pilgrimage through the beautiful Basilica of San Clemente in Rome. Hidden behind a simple green door, this basilica conceals holy places of the 12th, 4th, and 1st centuries.
Snippet from the Show
“We are not asked merely to call ourselves Christians; we are asked to be Christians through our deeds.”
-St. Ignatius of Antioch
Pilgrimage to Rome with Dr. Edward Sri
Dr. Sri recently announced that he will be taking a pilgrimage to Rome June 22-30 of this year. For more information, email email@example.com.
The Basilica of San Clemente
Near the colosseum in Rome, there is a discrete green door placed in an ordinary orange and white wall. There does not appear to be anything special about it. However, beyond this door is the 12th century Basilica of San Clemente. Within this basilica, you will find many incredible things: an outstanding mosaic, the tombs of St. Clement and St. Ignatius of Antioch, a 4th century church, and the 1st century home of St. Clement.
The Mosaic of San Clemente
Have you ever heard someone ask the question, “I’m a good person. I’m spiritual. Why do I need a church?” Well, the mosaic in San Clemente represents a beautiful response to this question. In the mosaic is a cross depicted as the tree of life. Out of the base of the cross, sprout many vines. These vines then spiral throughout the entire mosaic. Connected by all the vines, many different people are represented. Some of these people are recognizable as St. Augustine and St. Ambrose. Other people depicted are unknown and appear to be ordinary people living ordinary lives.
This mosaic is a representation of Christ’s words in John 15:5, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” It is showing a life lived in Christ. The vines are reaching out and inviting us to participate in that life. Do you want to abide in Christ? Do you want the life of Christ in you? Then you want to be a part of the Catholic Church.
The Tomb of St. Clement and St. Ignatius of Antioch
If you look down from the mosaic to the altar, you will notice that the altar is built over something. It is built over the tomb of St. Clement and St. Ignatius of Antioch. Incredibly, St. Clement was a contemporary of Sts. Peter and Paul. A generation later came St. Ignatius of Antioch who contributed much to the Church through his writings. He was martyred in Rome by being thrown to the beasts in the Circus Maximus.
The 4th Century Church
Descending down a staircase near the back of the main church, you will be taken down to the 4th century church that it was built upon. Here in this 4th century church, you can see frescoes depicting all sorts of things: Biblical images, papal succession, St. Peter, St. Linus, and St. Clement.
1st Century Christianity
Going down another staircase, you will find yourself in what feels like an alleyway. On one side are the remains of a 1st century house that appears to have been the location of pagan worship. However, on the other side of the alley are the remains of another 1st century house that is believed to have been the home of St. Clement. In this home, St. Clement would have welcomed St. Peter and St. Paul. They would have celebrated the Eucharist in this home. In the 1st century, there were no churches or large basilicas, so the Eucharist was celebrated in homes.
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Dr. Edward Sri is a theologian, well-known Catholic speaker, and author of several best-selling books. His work with Ascension includes study programs such as A Biblical Walk Through the Mass, No Greater Love: A Biblical Walk Through Christ’s Passion and Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother. Several of Dr. Sri’s programs were filmed on-site in the Holy Land, and feature immersive video explorations of the sacred sites where Jesus, Mary, and the Apostles lived and died.
Dr. Sri is the host of the acclaimed Ascension podcast All Things Catholic with Dr. Edward Sri. Together with Curtis Martin, Dr. Sri is a founding leader of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), of which he serves as senior vice president of Apostolic Outreach.
Dr. Sri lives with his wife Beth and their children in Colorado.