Saturday, November 9, 2013


Also known as the CEMETERY OF ST. PAUL'S LITTLE BRIDGE, 2 km (1.2 miles) from the Basilica of St. Paul, in a palace built in the 1950s
There is mystery about Thecla, a young follower of St. Paul hardly cited by the sources, not mentioned in the New Testament and known from the apocryphal Gospel Acts of Paul and Thecla of the second century
The catacomb is made up of three corridors in a delta shape, each one about 30 m (98 feet) long and about 2.5 m (8 feet) wide, with twenty-two square chapels in twelve of which unique and mysterious intensive burials have been found. They were covered with the "cappuccina" (capuchin) method, covering the graves with bricks in a triangle like the roof of a house
Three historical phases
1) Second half century of the first century AD, commercial purposes with pozzolana quarry and fullonica
2) Late third century. Christian and pagan funerary use
3) Fourth century. Development of the catacomb and construction of the UNDERGROUND SMALL BASILICA with two naves, one of the first underground basilicas in Rome. It became underground storage for barrels in the seventeenth century
The tomb of Thecla is in a big niche
Nearby two painted panels from another site on the Via Cristoforo Colombo: "Veiled praying woman suddenly taken away by a man" maybe scene of a martyrdom and "Two characters seen from the back: one pointing something and the other who looks with his hand on his forehead"
Other very damaged paintings in a simple, linear style, so simple and linear that Mariano Armellini in the nineteenth century described them as "The ugliest pictures in the underground of Rome"
In June 2009, archaeologists of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology using a special laser technique found on the ceiling of a cubiculum (cubicle) an extraordinary fresco of the late fourth century. It represents the circular icons of the "Sts. Paul, John, Andrew and Peter", in the center "Good Shepherd" and "Matron" maybe the owner of the cubicle and buried here
They are believed to be the oldest images existing in the world of Sts. Paul, Andrew and John
The painted faux coffered ceiling embedding the portraits is maybe an imitation of the original ceiling of the nearby Basilica of St. Paul
Very interesting series of mausoleums and tombs both with burials and incineration used until the late third century
There are some inscriptions in mosaic a rare example of pagan funerary epigraphy

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