Saturday, November 9, 2013


The second largest of Rome, about 15 km (9.32 miles) of tunnels
Four floors of which the third and fourth are only partially excavated and not passable
Developed from the third century until the fourth and fifth centuries from seven underground primitive cemeteries both pagan and Christian
There were originally tombs above ground tombs dating from the end of the Republican period
"The archaeological evidence, after the critical historical review of the last decades, agree with the sources in dating the birth of Christian cemeteries more or less in the last years of the second century. Before that time - always the archaeological record - shows how members of the new religion buried their dead in common pagan areas, in individual tombs, in family mausoleums, or in those of the funerary associations" (Vincenzo Fiocchi Nicolai)
The catacomb was located into the estate of Flavia Domitilla, niece of Emperor Vespasian (69/79), condemned, according to Dio Cassius, to exile on Ventotene island at the order of his uncle Diocletian for atheism and "for having diverted into the customs of the Jews"
According to the version of Eusebius of Caesarea, Flavia Domitilla had a namesake aunt married to the consul of 95 AD Flavius Clemens who was condemned to death by his cousin Domitian for atheism, while his wife was also exiled in Ventotene
Behind the apse of the Basilica of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus there is the so-called RETROSANCTOS consisting of three radial galleries with burial chambers including the one with the cubicle of the painting with "Matron Veneranda introduced in the heavenly garden by the martyr Petronilla" dating to the beginning of the fourth century
Petronilla was mistakenly believed to be the daughter of St. Peter, for a mistake in the translation of an inscription describing her, in fact, as daughter of one Petronius, not Peter
She became patron of the Franks in the second half of the eighth century when Paul I (757/767) transferred his relics in the Basilica of St. Peter
To the north of the Basilica. Small cemetery of the end of the second century first pagan and later Christian with its own private access. The family was just homonymous to the Flavian family of emperors of the first century
To the left of the entrance room with desks and well for the refrigerium, i.e. the funeral meal that was consumed by the family visitors to the graves attested by literary sources especially from the late Constantine period
On the right Cubicle of Love and Psyche for the burial of children with paintings of "Children picking flowers in a paradisal garden"
The Flavian Hypogeum itself is made up of a gallery with four large niches on the sides and terminal area, maybe for the burial of servants
The paintings date back to the years 220/230 including "Daniel among the Lions"
Double cubicle of the early third century, maybe one for the family and the other for the servants with paintings of non-Christian subjects representing fake architecture and bucolic scenes
At the center of the vault "Good Shepherd"
Discovered in 1897 with paintings of the end of the fourth century. Cubicle known as the Bakers' cubicle: in the apses "Apostolical Council" and "Good Shepherd"
A scene maybe of the Judgment Day with "Christ who gives the crown to the three men and three women" and "Madonna with Child and Four Wise Men"
To the south of the basilica, an arched niche with mosaic discovered in 1742: "Christ the Teacher among Peter and Paul", "Three Jewish children in the furnace", "The resurrection of Lazarus" and inscription

Basilica of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus
Late fourth century on the grave of the two soldiers and martyrs, victims of the persecution of Diocletian (285/305)
At the beginning of the IX century Leo III (795/816) moved the bodies of the two saints in the church of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus
To build the church three tunnels were cut:
The HYPOGEUM OF THE MARTYRS in the apse area, where the tombs of the two saints and of the martyr Petronilla were
The HYPOGEUM OF THE sarcophagi with "Three sarcophagi" still visible under the floor through a grating
The FLAVIAN-AURELIAN HYPOGEUM so called for the inscription mentioning these two families. It was demolished by the earthquake of 897 and rediscovered in 1874

No comments:

Post a Comment