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Vision of Saint Peter led to construction of the Chiesa di Santa Maria

By Catholic Online
February 17th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Chiesa di Santa Maria in Palmis, also known as Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis, which translated into English means the Church of "Lord, Where Are You Going?" The building is a small church on the Appian Way in Rome.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis is on the spot where tradition says Saint Peter had a vision of the resurrected Christ while fleeing persecution in Rome. In the Acts of Peter, Peter was surprised to see Jesus and asked him, "Domine, quo vadis?" or "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered "Eo Romam iterum crucifigi," or "I go to Rome to be crucified anew." This convinced Peter to turn around and face crucifixion himself in Rome.

There has been a sanctuary on this spot since at least the 9th century, perhaps even earlier. The first sanctuary may have been a Christian version of an already existing temple, the church is located just in front of the sacred Campus dedicated to Rediculum, the "God of the return."

The position of the sanctuary in Campus Rediculi was ideal, first of all because the ancient Appian way was the most important among the Roman "consular" roads, secondarily because from this location the traveler could give the last look to the walls of Rome.

The current church dates from 1637. The Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis is on the Appian way, about 800 miles from the St. Sebastian Gate, or Porta San Sebastiano, where the Via Ardeatina branches off the Appian Way.

The two footprints on a marble slab at the center of the church are said to have been miraculously left by Jesus. The official name of the church is Chiesa di Santa Maria in Palmis, where palmis refers to the soles of Jesus' feet.

There was an inscription above the front door on the fašade, saying:

"Stop your walking, traveler, and enter this sacred temple in which you will find the footprint of our Lord Jesus Christ when He met with St. Peter who escaped from the prison. An elemosina for the wax and the oil is recommended in order to free some spirits from Purgatory.
Pope Gregory XVI found it so inappropriate (effectively being advertising) that he ordered its removal in 1845."

In 1983 Pope John Paul II defined the chapel as "a place that has a special importance in the history of Rome and in the history of the Church."

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