Early Coelian Christians
Prominent Christian families lived on the Coelian Hill. The property next to Saints John and Paul belonged to the patrician family of St. Gregory the Great (590-604, left), the most notable of the early popes. His grandfather, Pope St. Felix (483-492) and another relative, Pope St. Agapitus (535-536) preceded him as bishops of Rome. Gordian, the father of Agapitus, was a priest of the Church of Saints John and Paul.
St. Melania the Younger (right), from one of Rome's richest families, lived near Saints John and Paul. Shortly before Alaric's invasion, she sold her home and lands on the Coelian, and gave the money to the poor. Then she left for Africa with her husband to join Augustine and his community at Hippo. Eventually they settled in Bethlehem with the religious communities begun by St. Jerome and St. Paula, a wealthy Roman Christian widow.
From the late 4th century on, Christians from the Coelian Hill, were leaders of the Roman church with ties to a lively spiritual and intellectual network that reached throughout the Roman world. Among their spiritual guides were St. Jerome -- a frequent guest in the homes on the hill -- St. Augustine, the bishop of Hippo in North Africa, and spiritual teachers from the Egyptian desert, who brought the wisdom and asceticism of the desert to the Coelian. The Coelian Christians gave important support to the Church of Saints John and Paul.
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