|Facade of the Church|
I had been to Rome several times in the past but on my recent visit, our guide brought us to a less popular but I believe significant church, officially called Chiesa di Santa Maria in Palmis, but more popularly called Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis (literally, the Church of “Lord, Where Are You Going?”).
|Inside the Church|
We were going to the Catacombs so we passed the Appian way where the church is located.
The Church is located on the spot where tradition says Saint Peter had a vision of the risen Christ while fleeing persecution in Rome. According to the apocryphal Acts of Peter, Peter was surprised to see Jesus and asked him: “Domine, quo vadis ?” meaning “Lord, where are you going?”. Jesus answered; “I am going to Rome to be crucified again”.
A chastened Peter realized that Christ meant he was going to take the place of the weak-willed first pope and die, once again, for his faith. Peter turned around and returned to Rome to take his martyrdom like a man. (In fact, when it came to the moment, Peter gritted his teeth and told his executioners he was unworthy of being crucified in the same manner as his Lord and, in effect, asked them to “Do me upside down.” This is why there are still a few St. Peter-related holy sites around Rome sporting upside-down crosses—so no, they’re not for Satan-worshippers.)
|Believed to be footprints of Jesus|
The two footprints on a marble slab at the center of the church (copy of a relief conserved in the nearby Basilica of San Sebastiano) 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.
|St. Peter requested that he be crucified upside down|
Evidence suggests a strong presence of the Apostle Peter in this area, not only because it was here he met Jesus. This was also the area where he is supposed to have lived. An epigraph found in the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian supports this as it says, “Domus Petri” – meaning “the House of Peter”. An epigram by Pope Damasus I from the 4th century honors St. Peter and St. Paul and further strengthens the belief that this was the area where the apostles lived. It reads: “You that are looking for the names of Peter and Paul, you must know that the saints have lived here”.