Photo By Peter Watts
Domine Quo Vadis?

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Panorama taken outside the Domine Quo Vadis church in southern Rome. The also shows the first fork in the Appian Way and the path leading up to the Catacombs in the wall between the two roads. The church was being renovated when I visited and so I could not take any pictures inside.

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Domine Quo Vadis? - Rome visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Domine Quo Vadis?' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Roma.

Domine Quo Vadis (lit: 'Lord where are you going') stands about 800m south of the Aurelian Walls past the Porta San Sebastiano on the Appian Way (Via Appia Antica) in Rome. The official name of the church is Chiesa di Santa Maria in Palmis, though virtually no one refers to it as such. The church is close to the Catacombs of San Callisto.

The name 'Domine quo vadis' comes from a legendary encounter between the apostle Peter and Jesus when the former was fleeing Rome. According to legend, Peter asked the question of Jesus who replied that he was returning to Rome to be crucified anew. Support to the idea that Peter may have lived in the area comes from inscriptions about a "Domus Petri" (house of Peter) in the catacombs of Saint Sebastian. The catacombs are nearby up a hill, and the path to the catacombs leads up the hill close to this point.

There has been a sanctuary on the spot since the 9th century, but the current church is from 1637 and façade added later on in the 17C. It may have previously been the location of Campus Rediculi, a temple to the god or Return. Situated at the junction of the Via Ardeatina with the Apian Way (one of the main consular routs of Rome) it was the last place where a traveler could look back and see the walls of Rome and offerings were often made here in Roman times to ensure a safe return to Rome.

Inside the church is a pair of footprints sunk into a marble slab. These are claimed to be the impressions made by Jesus when he met Peter on the Apian way. It is most likely that this is in fact a pagan offering made in thanks for a successful journey before the church was ever here, and that the origins of these prints has been changed by the church to suit Christian traditions.


Chisea Domine Quo Vadis
Via Appia Antica


Bus: 218 from Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, a 15-minute ride, or Bus 716 from Piazza Venezia.
Car: Head south along Via Appia Antica out of Porta San Sebastiano. Domine Quo Vadis? is at beside the junction of the Appia Antica and Via Andreatina.

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