Peter and Paul on the via Appia: early Christians in their non-Christian surroundings

British School at Rome
via Antonio Gramsci 61

Data evento
15 May 2024

The third-century AD cult site of the apostle martyrs Peter and Paul underneath the present church of San Sebastiano at the third mile of the Via Appia has been discussed in literally hundreds of publications. Yet no consensus has been reached regarding the reasons for and character of the cult at this location, especially given that the apostles’ graves are commonly located in the Vatican and on Via Ostiense respectively. This paper will offer a different approach to the question which is based primarily on archaeological and contextual evidence. It will suggest that the apostles’ grave has been thought to be on the Via Appia at least since the earlier second century and trace the cult’s development within an area of strong imperial and military presence. It will thereby aim to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between early Christians and their non-Christian surroundings.