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Rome:  A Catholic’s Guide to Rome, the “Eternal City”

What can we say about Rome that has not been said a thousand times before? No where else can you find so many reminders of the history of the Catholic Church and so many beautiful churches and monuments.

And much of Rome is easy to walk. Many of these locations are within 10-20 blocks of one another, so if you pace yourself (perhaps stop for a cup of cappuccino…or a gelato….along the way) you can easily visit many of these places on foot. Of course if you are with an organized tour they will probably provide your own private transportation. Check in advance to find out–especially if you have mobility problems–but don’t let that keep you away.


A word of warning about local tour guides in Rome. Some guides are excellent and some are very poor. In addition, some can be quite anti-Catholic. Comments such as “these items were stolen from…..and brought to Rome” or the use of the word “legend” rather than “tradition” will give the traveler a biased and in-accurate experience.

And, be aware, that Italy has strict licensing laws concerning guides. A guide might be licensed for Assisi, but not Rome, or vice-versa. If you use an unlicensed guide and he gets stopped by the authorities, your tour might come to an abrupt halt!

Click here to read our suggestions about private tour guides in Rome.

Whether traveling on your own or with a group, we recommend you have a map to orient yourself to the city. Even if you are with a tour group, it is nice to know the layout of the city.

For example, you might find that the hotel you are staying in is just a few blocks from Saint Peter’s Square and you can get out and explore on your own after dinner.  The “City Wise” maps are great–waterproof and easy to fold and read.

For help finding your way around, we suggest the “Little Black Book of Rome”  It is organized by location rather than alphabetically like so many guide books.

And, of course, Rome can be a starting point for many other cities in Italy.  And we recommend traveling by train:  Italian trains are fast, clean and take you right to the heart of town.  Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here

Check out the many day trips from Rome:  Florence, Tuscany, Naples & more

Or perhaps a Pasta-Making Class: Cook, Dine & Drink Wine With A Local Chef

Click here for “Vatican Cookbook Set” by The Pontifical Swiss Guard..buy it for yourself or order the gift set for someone else.


Below are some of the most notable Churches in Rome:

There are four major Basilicas:

Basilica of St. John Lateran *

Basilica of Saint Mary Major *

Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls *

Saint Peter’s Basilica *

Some other interesting churches:

Basilica di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte & Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Basilica of Saint Agnes Outside the walls (relics of Saint Agnes)

Basilica of Sant’Agostino (relics of Saint Monica)

Basilica of Saint Bartholomew: the 20th Century Martyrs, a must-see.

Basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls *

Basilica of Saint Maria sopra Minerva:  tomb of Saint Catherine of Siena

Basilica of Saint Sabina (Basilica di Santa Sabina all’Aventino):  Mother church of the Dominican Order

Basilica of Saint San Chrisogono

Basilica of Santa Pudenziana (beautifully preserved 5th century mosaic)

Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem *

Our Lady of the Conception Capuchin Church: the church of the bones

Church of the Gesu (Jesuit Church) and home of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Church of Saint Agnes in Agony

Church of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri (Original image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help)

Church of San Francesco a Ripa

Church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli (statue of the Bambino Jesu)

Church of Santa Susanna (Now closed..see St. Patricks Church below)

Church of Saint Paul of Tre Fontane (beheading of Saint Paul)

Churches of the Roman Forum (some of the oldest churches in Rome)

Domine Quo Vadis, or The Church of “Lord, Where are You Going?”.

Saint Peter in Chains

Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs ( the steps Jesus climbed in Jerusalem)

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Divine Love *

* Indicates one of the Seven Station Pilgrimage Churches of Rome.  This is a tradition begun by Saint Philip Neri in the 16th Century & continuing on today.

National churches in Rome:

National churches today resulted from an  ancient tradition where pilgrims gathered in certain churches in Rome to hear Mass in their own language, meet others from their home countries, and often receive help with finding food and lodging.

Today most countries have a national church in Rome and, as in the past, pilgrims still have an opportunity to hear Mass in their native language.

Regardless of your nationality, you should try to include some of them in your visit to Rome.  Most have certain works of art, perhaps tombs of certain Popes or Saints, or other features that make them worthy of a visit despite your country of origin.

Canada:  Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Canadian Martyrs

England:  Basilica of San Silvestro in Capite

France:  Church of Saint Louis of the French:  magnificent Baroque church with paintings by Carvaggio

Japan:  Church of Santa Maria dell’Orto (St. Mary of the Garden)

Netherlands:  Church of Michael and Magnus  Two major relics: stone where Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem, which is used as the main altar of the church and the stone where Abraham bound Isaac.

Poland:  Church and Hospice of Saint Stanislaus Martyr

Slovakia:  Church of San Girolamo della Carita (Saint Jerome of Charity) beautiful artwork; St. Jerome & St. Philp Neri lived here

Spain:  Santa Maria in Monserrato degli Spagnoli (Holy Mary of Montserrat) 

U.S.A.: American Parish in Rome:  Church of Saint Patrick 

And other places to visit:

Piazza Navona:  one of the most interesting Piazzas in Rome & Church of St. Agnes in Agony

San Lorenzo Center for young people

The Museum of the Holy Souls in Purgatory

The Catacombs of Rome

Tre Fontane: apparitions of Our Lady of Revelation

Vatican Museums (including the Sistine Chapel)

Vatican Gardens

Castel Gandolfo (Papal Summer Residence)

Retreat Houses

Domus Australia For Australians visiting Rome

Villa Irlanda Roma: For Irish visitors to Rome

And, a word about Gelato:
Gelato: an Italian treat not to be missed

Traveling to Rome:

As a major city, Rome is served by two airports:  Leonardo da Vinci (the main airport, used by most major airlines)and Ciampino Airport which is used by budget airlines Easyjet and Ryanair.

Train connections are excellent….the main terminal is aptly called “Termini”.  And, of course, Rome can be a starting point for many other cities in Italy.  And we recommend traveling by train:  Italian trains are fast, clean and take you right to the heart of town.  Get train & bus schedules, see fares & buy tickets here.


Click here to find Restaurants and Hotels in Rome, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

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