Paul came to Rome in 61AD for his trial by the Roman court which condemned him to death as a Christian. The sentence was carried out in a place called ‘palude Salvia’ close to Rome (later known as the Three Fountains after the three springs that gushed up where the severed head of the saint bounced three times on the ground). His body was taken two miles away from the place of his martyrdom and laid in the burial area which a Christian woman named Lucina owned on Via Ostiense and which was part of a pre-existing burial ground. Though he was a Christian, the Apostle Paul could be buried in a Roman necropolis because he was a Roman citizen. His tomb immediately became a place of veneration and a memorial chamber was built above it where pilgrims and faithful people came to pray during centuries of persecution.
The tomb stone
1.37 metres below the modern day papal altar is a marble headstone (2.12 metres by 1.27 metres) made up of various sections and bearing the inscription
PAULO APOSTOLO MART...
The section inscribed with the name PAULO has three holes, one round and the other two square shaped.
Above the solid sarcophagus measuring 2.55 metres long by 1.25 metres wide by 0.97 metres high, the successive ‘confessional altars’ have been built. During the recent excavations a large window was removed below the papal altar in order to allow the faithful to view the tomb of the Apostle.