From the 14th
century on, the tradition of Jubilees attracted
pilgrimages to the tomb of the Apostle, and the
Popes took advantage of those occasions to undertake
important works. Boniface IX (1389-1405), and later
Martin V (1417-1431), exhorted the faithful to make
donations to realize these projects, granting them
indulgences tied to their prayer and penance.
Gregory XIII added
a balustrade around the tomb for the Jubilee of
1575. Clement VIII built the high altar for the
Jubilee of 1600, while in 1625 Urban VIII
transformed the chapel of St Lawrence by Carlo
For the Jubilee
year of 1725, Benedict XIII commissioned Antonio
Canevari to construct a new portico, demolishing the
ancient vestibule and adding the chapel of the
Crucifix (or Blessed Sacrament) with the
“miraculous” Crucifix, which was done in polychrome
by Tino di Camaino from Siena (14th century).
Here one can also admire a 13th century mosaic icon
and a touching relic-statue of Saint Paul made of
polychrome wood which bears traces of evidence of
the fire of 1823.
The altars and the
chapels which open onto the transept make the
Basilica a witness to Baroque art
At the present time the monks celebrate lauds,
vespers and choral mass here.
2) St Bridget reported having seen
the face of Christ turn toward her while she was
praying at the foot of this Crucifix in 1370. He
offered her words of encouragement in founding a
religious community. A statue of the saint was later
placed in the Chapel. Another founder of a religious
order, St. Ignatius of Loyola, professed his vows on
August 22, 1541 before the 13th century mosaic icon
which is also held in this Chapel
3) The Altar of the Conversion of
Saint Paul, attributed to Camuccini and located in
the apse of the left transept, recalls the
fundamental experience of the internal conversion of
the Apostle to the Gentiles. It is surrounded by the
statues of St. Gregory the Great and St. Bernard.
The altar of the Assumption, next to the right
transept holds the copy of the mosaic of the
coronation of the Virgin Mary, by Giulio Romano
(1492). In the right transept lies the chapel of
Saint Benedict, dedicated to the Monastic Order
which for centuries has celebrated in the Basilica.
It contains a homonym statue (a magnificent
restoration of which was recently carried out).