Catacombs of Domitilla Rome

The Catacombs of Domitilla in Rome consist of an extensive network of galleries and are named after a niece of the Emperor Domitian, member of the wealthy Flavian family. Originally this was Domitilla‘s private cemetery. When Domitilla‘s husband Flavius Clemens was denounced and executed (on the Emperor’s orders) for being a Christian she was exiled to the island of Ventotene (then Pandataria).

Catacombs of Domitilla Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via delle Sette Chiese, 280/282 – Rome (tel. +39 06 5110342). Opening hours: From 09.00 till 12.00 and from 14.00 till 17.00. Last entrance is 15 minutes before closing time. Closed: Tuesdays, January 1, Easter, mid-December till mid-January. Admission: 8 Euros; children ages 6-15: 5 Euros; children younger than 6: Free.

History and description

Catacombs of Domitilla Rome
Jesus Teaching the Apostles

In the 4th century, when a basilica was built over the graves of Saint Nereus and Saint Achilleus, the Catacombs of Domitilla gained notoriety. Contrary to what legend holds Nereus and Achilleus were not two converted servants of Domitilla herself, but soldiers who were martyred during the reign of Diocletian, more than a century later.

Another martyr who used to be buried in Domitilla‘s catacombs was Saint Petronilla. Her sarcophagus was however transferred to the Vatican, in the 8th century.

The basilica built over Nereus‘ and Achilleus‘ graves has three naves. Among its ruins two pillars were found, which used to support the ciborium. One of those pillars, completely intact, has the name Achilleus carved on it. Sculptures on the columns represent the two beheaded saints. Behind the apse of the church is a fresco of the Saints Petronilla en Veneranda.

One of the oldest parts of the cemetery can be found to the right of the basilica. Here members of the Flavian family were buried and there is also a cubiculum with a fresco of Christ as the Good Shepherd. Another part of the catacombs is known as the area of the Virgin (della Madonna) and is adorned with various 3rd and 4th century paintings. The most famous one of these shows the Magi approaching the Virgin and child.

Via delle Sette Chiese, 280/282 – Rome

Saint Callixtus Catacombs Rome

The Catacombs of San Callixtus are the most famous ones of all the Catacombs in Rome. They constitute the first official underground Christian cemetery and many martyrs from the 2nd and 3rd centuries are buried there, including no fewer than 16 Popes.

Saint Callixtus Catacombs Rome

Opening hours and admission

Opening hours: 09.00 till 12.00 and 14.00 till 17.00. Closed: Wednesdays, January 1, Easter and December 25. Admission: 8 Euros; age 7-15: 5 Euros; age 1-6: Free. The Catacombe di San Callisto can only be visited with a guided tour. During the busy periods an extensive history and explanation will be given before the actual tour starts. During the tour no extra information will be supplied.

History and description

Good Shepherd - Saint Callixtus Catacombs Rome
The Good Shepherd is one of the most famous frescoes in the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus.

Callixtus himself was originally the administrator of the cemetery, under Pope Zephyrinus. Later, in 217, he became Pope himself.

Saint Callixtus’ Catacombs consist of five levels of loculi where the bodies were placed in tiers. Unfortunately the slabs of marble that used to close off the loculi have disappeared. The bodies were wrapped in sheets, as most Christians were poor in those days.

The most important attraction in the Catacombs of Saint Callixtus is a crypt that used to contain the bodies of several early Popes. The body of Saint Cecilia was also discovered in a cubiculum in these catacombs, but it was moved to the church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. The crypt of Saint Eusebius contained a sarcophagus with two mummified bodies.

In order to reach the Catacombs you have to descend some steep steps to the Papal Crypt, which was built by order of Pope Damasus. From here a narrow opening leads to the room that used to contain Saint Cecilia‘s tomb. Between the 5th and 6th centuries the walls of this space were decorated with frescoes, including the oldest depiction of the saint praying. In 1821 the tomb itself was moved to the Santa Cecilia in Trastevere Church by order of Pope Pasquale I.

There are no human remains in the catacombs anymore. They were removed to the Santa Prassede Church, because visitors used to try to steal the relics from the catacombs.

The cubicles are adorned with frescoes and many of them have Christian symbols carved on the walls.

Photo Gallery Saint Callistus Catacombs

 

Address and public transport

Address: Via Appia Antica, 110/126 – Rome (tel. +39 06 5130151 – 51301580). Public transport: Bus 118, 218.

Catacombs of Saint Callixtus – Via Appia Antica 110/126, Rome

San Panfilo Catacomb Rome

The Catacomb of Saint Panfilo is located along the Via Salaria Vecchia, to be more precise underneath the present Via Paisello and the Via Spontini. The present entrance of this catacomb is inside the Santa Teresa di Bambin Gesù in Panfilo Church. It is normally not open to tourists.

San Panfilo Catacomb Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Paisiello, 24 – Rome (tel. +39 06 735824) District: Quartiere Pinciano. Bus: 910. Opening hours: Like many smaller an dless well-known catacombs the San Panfilo Catacombs can only be visited with permission of the Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra.

History and description

The presence of many so-called “a capuccina” tombs (that resemble the roof of a house, with rows of slanted tiles) indicate that people were buried here as early as the 3rd century. This impression is supported by some of the inscriptions found in the catacombs, one of which is dated 298 AD.

The oldest level of these catacombs, which was reached by means of a long staircase, was created with the so-called “a pettine” system. A higher level was added in the 4th century to be followed by a third floor.

This last floor consists of a hallway, beginning neat the staircase. This hallway is more disorderly than the other two levels.

There is a cubicolo doppio (double cubicolo) in the oldest one of the hallways, which had apparently necessitated the destruction of a number of already existing loculi. These extensively decorated spaces had been built by two freed slaves and dedicated to their former masters, Teofilo and Ponziana.

Panfilo’s relics are supposed to be kept in this cubicolo doppio. According to the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, a 7th century list containing all martyrs, Saint Quirino and Saint Candido are also supposed to be buried in these catacombs, but no remains have been found yet to support this.

Panfilo’s catacombs can only be visited after writing to the Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra.

Via Paisiello, 24 – Rome

Sant’Agnese Catacombs Rome

The Catacombs of Sant’Agnese are part of a bigger structure including the Basilica of Sant’Agnese fuori le Mura (“Sant’Agnese outside the Walls”) and the Mausoleo di Costanza, which was built around the year 350.

Sant’Agnese Catacombs Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

The address of the Catacombe di Sant’Agnese is Via Nomentana, 349 Rome (tel. +39 0686205456). Bus: 60, 60L, 82, 90, 168, 310 544, N2L, N4, N13.  Opening hours: From 09.00 to 12.00 (except on Sundays and public holidays); from 15.00 to 17.00 from the last Sunday in October till the last Sunday in March; from 16.00 to 18.00 from the last Sunday in march till the last Sunday in October. Admission: 8 Euros. Children aged 7-15: 5 Euros.

History and description

Catacombs of Sant'Agnese in Rome
Catacomb

The mausoleum was intended to receive the bodies of Costantia and Helen, two daughters of Constantine.

There is a vast area underneath and around the basilica that houses the hallways of a catacomb. This catacomb, which was by chance discovered in 1865, already existed before Sant’Agnese was buried there, as can be testified by several inscriptions along the walls and on the tombs.

It consists of three levels which are divided into four areas. The oldest one of these areas is on the left hand side of the basilica. The fourth area is under the atrium of the church. There are no frescoes in the Catacombs of Sant’Agnese.

Via Nomentana, 349 – Rome

Catacombs of Saint Sebastian Rome

Saint Sebastian was a soldier who was martyred during the reign of Diocletian (end of the 3rd century). He was pierced with arrows, then killed by blows of a club and thrown into the Cloaca Maxima. He appeared in a vision to the matron Irene, who subsequently picked up his body and carried it to the catacombs. His cult became very popular and in the 5th century a crypt was excavated around his tomb.

Catacombs of Saint Sebastian Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Appia Antica, 136 – Rome (tel. +39 06 7850350). Opening hours: 10,00 till 16.30. Closed: Sunday, January 1, December 25, 26. Admission: 8 Euros (age 6-15: 5 Euros; age 0-5: Free).

History and description

The Appian Way, or the Via Appia Antica, passes through a valley near the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian. Since the bottom of the valley was called “ad catacombas“, the columbarii that were built there came to be called catacombs. Later the word became synonymous with all underground cemeteries.

Three mausoleums were erected at the bottom of the valley. In the 3rd century the church got ownership of the site and had the mausoleums covered by a platform, thus creating a so-called triclia (covered courtyard). In the 4th century a basilica was built above the earlier structures. This basilica was altered in the 13th century and renovated (by Cardinal Scipio Borghese) in the 17th century.

The Catacombs of San Sebastiano contain second century pagan as well as Christian tombs and consist of four levels. The tour will take you down a staircase along which remains of sarcophagi bearing imperial seals can be viewed. Underneath the church three pagan tombs can be seen, as well as some frescoes and a floor mosaic.

The Chapel of Symbols is called thus because of the early Christian symbols that can be found there.

Via Appia, 136 – Rome

Nicomedes Catacombs Rome

Of the Catacombs of Nicomedes in Rome not much is known, not even the exact location where the saint was buried. The site can only be visited through intervention of a special papal office.

Nicomedes Catacombs Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via dei Villini, 32 – Rome. District: Nomentano. Public transport: Bus 60. Opening hours and admission: The site cannot be visited, except through (rarely granted) permission from the Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra. Italian name: Catacombe di Nicomede.

History and description

The Catacombs of Nicomedes were probably constructed at the site of a former entrance to Rome’s water system. According to an inscription on one of the walls they must have already existed in the year 388. These Catacombs were only discovered in the last century.

Unfortunately a number of hallways of Nicomedes’ Catacombs were destroyed during the construction of a pozzolana ( a kind of cement) mine.

Little is known about Saint Nicomede himself. He is thought to have been a Presbyterian who was martyred, killed and thrown into the Tiber.  A clergyman got him out of the river and made sure that he was buried along the Via Nomentana. (A Presbytarian was a kind of bishop and the word does not refer to the present Presbytarian church.)

A clergyman then got him out of the river and buried him along the Via Nomentana.

In the 7th and 8th centuries several manuscripts mention a basilica dedicated to Nicodemes, but traces of it have never been found.

After the construction of the Ministero dei Trasporti more or less on top of these catacombs tourists have not been allowed to visit them.

Via dei Villini, 32 – Rome

San Valentino Catacomb Rome

The San Valentino Catacomb in Rome is situated near a large burial ground, containing mausoleums dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries. The catacombs themselves date back to the third century. They are only open to the public on Valentine’s Day.

San Valentino Catacomb Rome

Address, opening hour and admission

Address: Viale Maresciallo Pilsudski, 2 – Rome. Opening hours: 10.00 till 13.00 and 15.00 till 17.00, only on Valentine’s day. During the rest of the year, a guided visit for groups or schools is possible and can be arranged by contacting the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church (tel.: +39 064465610).

History and description

Saint Valentine’s Catacombs are characterized by a level entranceway leading onto a series of underground passages following a grid system. In the 4th century two new levels of hallways were constructed above the original one.

Also in the 4th century a basilica was built. It had three naves, a crypt and an apse that was excavated in the Parioli hill. Around the middle of the 7th century this basilica was renovated.

The cult of Saint Valentine dates back to the times of Emperor Constantine. It is thought that the martyr was born in the town of Terni, since there is a martyr of the name Valentine venerated there as well. Terni also lies along the Via Flaminia.

The catacomb was discovered in the 17th century by Bosio, who happened to own a villa right above them.

San Valentino Catacomb Rome


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