Learning Rome’s history through the oldest Christian catacombs

Catacombs of San Callisto were built between 250 and 300 A.D.
Catacombs of San Callisto were built between 250 and 300 A.D.

Visiting the oldest underground tunnels in the world and going through the history of Rome are one of the unforgettable experiences everybody deserve. The charm and the beauty of this historical site lie underneath an area which still keeps an untouchable, bucolic peace between the Via Appia and the Via Ardeatina. d that Roman Catacombs, running underneath the town, were mainly used as meeting places for Christians who tried to survive persecutions. However, there is little evidence and it probably occurred in exceptional cases, such as to celebrate the Eucharist.

Only later on, more studies found out that the hundreds miles of catacombs were actually burial tunnels: while pagans preferred cremation, Christians believed that being buried would have, easily, led to resurrection. This idea refused the custom of storing ashes in urns and opted for the burial of the dead. As early Christians did not own much land, catacombs became a practical, sometimes necessary, solution.

Moreover, when Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in A.D. 313, these people could not get inspiration by persecuted martyrs anymore and, in order to show their attachment, they began making pilgrimages to their burial places in the catacombs and asking to be buried close to Saints’ tombs. Another important aspect was related to the way this place could strengthen the sense of community, connect life and death, and provide quietness during memorial ceremonies.

Read full article published by l’Italo Americano on March 26th, 2015 by Serena Perfetto : http://www.italoamericano.org/story/2015-3-25/Catacombs

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