What is the history of the Tre Fontane?

Answered by Andrew Fritz

The Abbey of the Tre Fontane holds a rich and fascinating history that is deeply rooted in the martyrdom of St. Paul. According to historical accounts, St. Paul, one of the most influential figures in early Christianity, was beheaded in Rome in the year 67 AD. It is believed that the exact location of his martyrdom was the site where the Abbey of the Tre Fontane now stands.

The name “Tre Fontane” translates to “Three Fountains,” which pays homage to the miraculous event that occurred after St. Paul's execution. Legend has it that upon his beheading, his head bounced three times on the ground, and from each spot, a fountain gushed forth. These three fountains are considered sacred and have become an integral part of the abbey's identity.

The abbey itself was founded in the 6th century by St. Gregory the Great, who was Pope at the time. He established a monastery on the site to honor the martyrdom of St. Paul and to provide a place of worship for the growing Christian community. Over the centuries, the abbey underwent various renovations and expansions, evolving into the magnificent structure we see today.

Throughout its history, the Abbey of the Tre Fontane has faced numerous challenges and upheavals. It endured invasions, sackings, and even periods of abandonment. However, it always managed to rise from the ashes and restore its spiritual significance.

One notable event in the abbey's history occurred in the 10th century when it was occupied by a group of Cistercian monks. The Cistercians, known for their dedication to simplicity and austerity, contributed to the abbey's architectural and spiritual transformation. They brought with them their expertise in and viticulture, introducing the art of and production to the abbey.

As a sommelier and brewer, I can't help but be intrigued by this aspect of the abbey's history. Imagining the monks diligently tending to their vineyards and crafting their own unique brews brings a sense of connection and appreciation for the traditions that have been passed down through the centuries.

In addition to its religious significance, the Abbey of the Tre Fontane also played a role in shaping the history of Rome. It became a place of pilgrimage for devout Christians from all over the world, attracting visitors who sought solace and spiritual enlightenment. The abbey's influence extended beyond its walls, leaving an indelible mark on the city's cultural and religious landscape.

Today, the Abbey of the Tre Fontane continues to thrive as a place of worship, reflection, and historical significance. Its stunning architecture, serene surroundings, and rich history make it a must-visit destination for those seeking to delve into the roots of Christianity and experience the spiritual aura that emanates from this ancient site.

The history of the Abbey of the Tre Fontane is deeply intertwined with the martyrdom of St. Paul and the miraculous appearance of the three fountains. From its humble beginnings as a monastery founded by St. Gregory the Great to its transformation under the Cistercian monks, the abbey has weathered the test of time and remains a symbol of faith and resilience. Its significance as a pilgrimage site and its contribution to the cultural heritage of Rome further solidify its place in history.