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The Cross of Christ

The penalty of crucifixion, of Persian origin, was adopted by Carthaginians and Romans. It was not inflicted on Roman citizens, but reserved for slaves and non-Romans who had committed heinous crimes, such as murder, serious theft but also treachery and rebellion, charges these brought against Jesus (cf. Lk 23:2-5; Jn 19:12).


Christians believe that Jesus agreed to die this way and then rose again.

Thus the cross has become the highest expression of love that has the power to transform failure and death. For there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends (Jn 15:13), even where this gift is rejected. Through the resurrection, God promises not to abandon us, but to deliver us from suffering and, indeed, to give us his eternal joy.


To mark oneself with the sign of the cross for the Christian means living in gratitude to God who saved him or her and means desiring to transform one's life into a gift for others. Unfortunately, this sign has often been betrayed and turned into a symbol of identity and oppression.


Water, the principle of our organic composition and of survival itself, forms the cornerstone of desires and contentions in the Bible. It is a sign of blessing, life, fruitfulness, rebirth and purification. It is the supreme symbol of God for whom man always thirsts: "my throat thirsts for the living God" (Psalm 62).

The Baptism


Water is the fundamental element of Baptism, which means "immersion." The person being baptized, by entering and leaving the water, is associated with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Through baptism, the person desires to live, think and act like Jesus and, through the action of the Holy Spirit, becomes an adopted son of God the Father. He thus becomes part of a community (the Church).

The Rosary

It is a prayer, which originated in the Middle Ages to help pray for monks who did not know the psalms by heart. At that time, in fact, books were rare, expensive and handwritten. Its final structure was given by the Friars Preachers (Dominicans), who also spread it throughout the world.

It is recited as follows: 1 "Our Father," 10 "Hail Marys," 1 "Glory Be," for a total of 15 times.

In each cycle "Our Father - 10 Hail Marys - Glory Be" (called a decade) an episode from the life of Jesus or Mary is recalled.

In all, 150 Hail Marys are prayed, as 150 are the Psalms of David.

Those who pray the Rosary may pray it in whole or in part, alone or in a group, in Church or anywhere, aloud or mentally, using a wreath (similar to the tesbih or Muslim rosary) or the fingers of the hand, meditating on the life of Jesus, praying for some loved one or, simply, letting the spoken words lull them.

Christian iconography

(Representation of characters and fundamental pages of Christian Revelation), is based on a theological observation: God has not only made himself heard (through a word, first oral and then fixed in writing), but has made himself seen through the Flesh of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God.

The mystery of theIncarnation is the foundation of every representation of the mystery: Christ himself is the icon par excellence, not made by human hands and the only one worthy of worship ("He who has seen me has seen the Father"; Jn. 14:9).

The Judeo-Christian tradition combats idolatry , namely, the claim to replace God and the events of salvation with images that are the result of mere human projection, without, however, denying the need for a figurative support that fosters an encounter with a God who desires to communicate Himself to man and be known by him! So, the worship of sacred images in the Catholic Church is not contrary to the first commandment that prohibits idols (Deut. 6:13-14). He who worships the image, worships the reality of the one who is reproduced in it. The honor bestowed on sacred images is a 'respectful veneration' not an adoration that befits only God.

This is why images are an integral part of human knowledge; they are a medium that speaks to the emotions and can be useful to fix in memory. Through the liturgy they nourish the experience the believer can have of God's presence and action on his behalf.

The Choir

Then there is the Choir, covered by a sky-blue dome studded with golden stars (8 metres in diameter).

On the four sides are portraits of four Dominican Popes:

  • St Pius V
  • Blessed Innocent V
  • Benedict XIII
  • Blessed Benedict XI

On the semi-dome, above the high altar, are paintings of Our Lady of the Rosary and at her feet St Dominic and St Catherine of Siena (1898).

Behind the high altar is a painting depicting the meeting of Saints Peter and Paul, by the Dominican Serafino Guidotti (1847).

La Vergine Maria Odighitria, “la Guida”

The greatest treasure the church possesses is the famous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary Odighitria, 'the Guide'. Although its location is recent, the icon has an exceptional history.
Later, an anonymous goldsmith framed the ancient image in a protective shrine of embossed silver plates (1m20 x 1m60); in this Mary graciously welcomes the Order of St Dominic under her mantle.

Saint Peter

Peter was Jesus' closest friend and disciple and became an apostle during his ministry. After Jesus' death, Peter became the leader of the apostles and is often described in the Gospels as their spokesman. He is considered one of the pillars of the early Church. After Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, Peter began to preach his own version of Christ's teachings to everyone he could find. He began to assume the position of leader and gathered a group of followers. For this he was considered the first Pope of Rome.

During the reign of Emperor Nero, a fire of vast proportions broke out in Rome, for which he blamed the Christians. This led to the crucifixion of St Peter. He asked to be crucified with his head downwards because he did not consider himself worthy enough to die like Jesus.

The construction of the new temple

The friars of the Order of Preachers, commonly known in England as the Black Friars because of the black cloak worn over the white robe, arrived in Istanbul (Constantinople) in the first half of the 13th century and settled in Galata, where they built St. Paul's Church.

In the course of history, the church was destroyed and rebuilt six times before we got what we have today.
In 1475, the church was turned into a mosque (the Arap Camii) and the Black Friars were forced to look for another site to build their church.

The friars therefore withdrew to another building a few hundred metres beyond the previous one.

This new church dedicated to St Peter remained in use until 1603, when it was decided to build a more functional one. However, a few years later, on 1 April 1660, a serious fire destroyed it. In 1731, the same fate befell the building that succeeded it.

However, the Black Friars were not discouraged and decided to build a fifth one.

Then, in 1841, given the previous problems, the Black Friars demolished this one to build a larger, safer and more beautiful church. For this purpose they consulted the famous architect Gaspare Fossati (who also restored St. Sophia) and in 1843 it was finally possible to build the new temple dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, which still exists today.

A little more about the church...

In this church, six marble columns support the elegant dome while two angels mount a guard of honour; one of them represents 'Justice' (the Old Testament, the one holding the sword) and the other 'Love of God' (the one holding the cross).

On each side of the tabernacle are marble bas-reliefs symbolising the Eucharist: The Arc of the Covenant and the memorial of the Passion and Resurrection. At either end of the altar table stand, almost life-size, statues of Faith holding the Cross and the Law pointing to the Ten Commandments.

If you would like to find out more about the history of the church or the Dominicans, don’t hesitate to ask questions or visit the rest of our site!