Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter Rome

The Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter in Rome are part of a complex containing the basilica of the same name and the Mausoleum of Helena (also known as Tor Pignattara). The original name of the complex was the inter duas lauros. They are among the biggest catacombs in Rome and are decorated with Biblical scenes.

Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter Rome

The catacombs can be accessed from the courtyard of the basilica. The two simple burial niches Marcellinus and Peter were placed in in the 4th century were adorned with sumptuous marble decorations commissioned by Pope Damasus. This pope was supposed to have heard of the two saints’ martyrs from the man who had tortured them to death. Damasus also declared the winding stairs leading to the sanctuary to be an obligatory path for pilgrims.

Between the 5th and 6th centuries a new sanctuary was built, dedicated to the Santi Quattro Coronati. (Four Crowned Martyrs, who also have a basilica in Rome dedicated to them).

In the 7th century Pope Honorius I ordered the construction of a small underground basilica. He also doubled the access stairs and consecrated an altar above the niches where the two saints were buried.

When Gregory IV became Pope (826) he had the remains of the saints brought to first France and then Germany.

There are many graffiti in the passageways leading to the martyrs’ tombs, testifying to the great popularity they enjoyed. The inscriptions are Latin, but also in Runic, since many Celts and Germans visited the catacombs.

Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter Rome

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