Legend has it that the head of the Apostle Paul bounced three times after his decapitation and that three fountains erupted where this happened (June 29th, 67 AD). Rome‘s Abbazia delle Tre Fontane (Abbey of the Three Fountains) was built in the spot where his martyrdom took place. Continue reading “Abbazia delle Tre Fontane 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
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.
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
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