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

Abbazia delle Tre Fontane Rome

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.

Abbazia delle Tre Fontane Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via Acque Salvie, 1 – Rome (tel. +39 06 5401655). Opening hours: The three churches on the grounds of the abbey all have different opening hours. Chiesa dei SS. Vincenzo e Anastasio06.30 till 12.30 and 15.00 till 20.40; Chiesa di S. Maria Scala Coeli: 08.00 till 13.00 and 15.00 till 18.00 (in summer till 19.00); Chiesa di San Paolo alle Tre Fontane: 08.00 till 13.00 and 15.00 till 18.00 (in summer till 19.00). Admission: Free.

History and description

San Paolo allel Tre Fontane Church Rome
San Paolo allel Tre Fontane Church

At the beginning of the Via delle Acque Salvie there is a gate and along the road to the abbey a statue of Saint Benedict can be seen. An inscription reminds visitors that they are entering an area of peace and prayer.

The arch that gives entrance to the complex was probably built in the 8th century, during the reign of Pope Honorius III. It is known as the Arch of Charlemagne (Arco di Carlo Magno), because of some frescoes that used to be visible on its inside. The frescoes that can still be seen nowadays refer to the 4 Evangelists and the symbols associated with them.

Right beyond this gate there is a garden and on the left the monastery and cloister (which may however not be visited) can be seen.

There are three churches on the grounds of the abbey, of which the SS. Vincenzo and Anastasio, founded by Honorius (625) and rebuilt by Honorius III (1221), is the biggest one and also the first one across from the entrance. The SS. Vincenzo e Anastasio is entirely made of bricks and has a tall facade. Its porch is adorned with Ionic columns and capitals.

The second church (on the right) is the Santa Maria Scala Coeli and it is located in the exact location where 10 thousand Christian legionnaires were martyred by Diocletian. It was built in 1582 by Giacomo Della Porta and consists of a small temple with side chapels and an apse.

San Paolo alle Tre Fontane, which was restored in 1599, originates in the 5th century and features Paul’s three miraculous fountains. The polychrome mosaic decorating its floor is from Ostia. It is half-hidden behind the other churches and can be reached by walking along a short tree-lined lane.

The area around the abbey used to be known as the Acque Salvie. In the old days it was an area which suffered a lot from malaria and was therefore not very densely populated.

Nowadays the Trappist monks sell a liqueur made of the eucalyptus trees they started planting there in 1868.

The Grotta delle Tre Fontane, where the Virgin appeared on April 12th 1947, is now an important sanctuary and attracts many pilgrims.

Via Acque Salvie, 1 – 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

Ardeatino District Rome

The name of the 20th quartiere of Rome is Ardeatino. It is located between the Via Cristoforo Colombo and the Via Laurentina in the east and the Via di Vigna Murata in the south.

Ardeatino District Rome (Quartiere

The Ardeatino district is named after the street of the same name that runs straight through the area. It is along this street that several of the district’s main attractions can be found.

Important tourist attractions in Ardeatino are the Church of Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls and the Abbazia delle Tre Fontane.

The Catacombs of Domitilla are also to be found in the area.

Quartiere Ardeatino – Rome (Q. XX)