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.

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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.

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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 in Rome 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.

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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

Catacombs of Priscilla Rome

The Catacombs of Priscilla (Italian: Catacomba di Priscilla) are the best preserved early Christian cemetery in Rome. It is also among the oldest and largest of all of Rome’s catacombs. Thanks to several inscriptions bearing the names of Peter and Paul one can deduce that it dates back to the 2nd century. In November 2013, after a 5 year restoration period, Priscilla’s Catacombs were reopened to the public.

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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