Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls, Abbey of
SAINT PAUL-OUTSIDE-THE-WALLS, ABBEY OF
Benedictine abbey nullius adjacent to the basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls, Rome, Italy. The first mention of a monastic community near the tomb of St. Paul the Apostle, just beyond the city walls of ancient rome, was in the 6th century. Later, the Monastery of S. Cesario—the original nucleus of Saint Paul's—is mentioned in the liber diurnus of Pope gregory ii (d. 731). Pope Gregory III (d. 741) ordered the monks to celebrate five daily Masses at five different altars in the nearby basilica over St. Paul's tomb. Such activity served to identify the monks more and more closely with the basilica. Then in the 9th century the Saracens destroyed the monastery when they destroyed the tomb of St. Paul. The cluniac reform by St. odo of cluny (942) and by St. majolus (994) restored the dignity and prestige of the community for nearly a century, but by the 11th century the monastery had again fallen into spiritual and material depths. Pope leo ix chose Hildebrand (the future Pope gregory vii) to revive it, giving him the title of "Abbas et Rector" of Saint Paul. Under him, both abbey and basilica were restored and the monastery grew spiritually and materially until it became a strong ecclesiastic feudal domain. Hildebrand is still memorialized in the abbey's bronze Byzantine door and a Carolingian Bible in its library. During the avignon papacy the abbey was distinguished both by its general prestige and by its loyalty to the pope. In the 15th century, however, the general decadence of Rome affected both the economic and the spiritual life of the monastery. The reform of St. Justina of Padua, promoted by L. Barbo (d. 1443), gave new spiritual life to the abbey and saved it from economic disaster. From the 15th to the 18th century Saint Paul's was a center for many saintly and learned men; its economy was based on a great landed estate. However, the Napoleonic and later Italian suppressions divested it of all its possessions and seriously compromised its monastic life. Its religious and economic revival in the late 19th century has resulted in the present-day monastery, which is marked by austere regular observance and serious study.
Bibliography: l. h. cottineau, Répertoire topobibliographique des abbayes et prieurés, 2 v. (Mâcon 1935–39) 2:2521. i. schuster, L'Abbazia di S. Paolo (Rome 1929). g. ferrari, Early Roman Monasteries (Rome 1957). g. penco, Storia del monachesimo in Italia (Rome 1961).