Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Beginning of the IV century AD. Round building with an outside diameter of 28 m (92 feet)
The original height was 25 m (82 feet)
The dome was lightened with empty jars (pignatte) still visible, which gave the name to the Torpignattara district
It was part of one of the most important imperial possessions known as AD DUAS LAUROS
Here it was found the "Sarcophagus of St. Helena" in red porphyry marble, now in the Greek Cross Room of the Vatican Museums. Maybe it had been originally prepared with reliefs representing warriors on horseback for Helena's "significant other" Costantius Chlorus or more probably for their son Constantine (306/337)
St. Helena was probably born in Bithynia in northern Turkey, and was a waitress, according to St. Ambrose, when she met Costantius Chlorus with whom she had Constantine. Costantius for dynastic reasons married Theodora, daughter of Maximian
In the area there was also the EQUITES SINGULARES CEMETERY, the imperial horse guard that was dissolved by Constantine and the FUNERARY BASILICA OF Sts. MARCELLINUS AND PETER built in 320 measuring 65 x 29 m (213 x 95 feet) to honor the tombs of the two martyrs of 303 under Diocletian (284/305) very popular in the early centuries of Christianity but now almost forgotten
According to Pope St. Damasus I (366/384), the two were led into a place called Selva Nera (Black Forest) on the Via Cornelia (later renamed Selva Candida, White Forest) and beheaded after being tortured. Their bodies were reassembled by the matron Lucilla and placed in the catacombs d duas lauros
Since 2000, the area is included in the CASILINO LABICANO PARK but it is still desperately waiting for a redevelopment of the site appropriate to its importance and magnitude
Sts. Marcellinus and Peter Ad Duas Lauros
1922 Guglielmo Palombi who extended a church built in the years 1632/38 on the ruins of the ancient funerary basilica and expanded in 1765
Catacomb of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter
Entry to the left of the church
It is up to 16 m deep (53 feet) and for extension it is the third largest in Rome
The first burials date back from the second half of the third century and it is extremely rich in paintings
It is a veritable gallery of Constantinian paintings covering an area of about 18,000 m² (4.5 acres). Among the spectacular paintings:
Huge "Maiestas Domini (Regality of God)" beginning of the fifth century. Below the four martyrs Tiburzio, Gorgonio, Peter and Marcellinus and above Christ between Sts. Peter and Paul
"Banquet scene" in the arcosolium of Sabina
"Some pieces of furniture and composition (...) should be considered as remnants of the typical scenes of hedonistic and hunting banquets that in late antiquity persist especially in the mosaics of the rustic villas and on the cover of the sarcophagi. (...) The amphora, the pans, the serving dishes, as well as the strong gestures of the diners, lead us to the anecdotal vein, sensitive to detail, typical of Italic and Roman tradition" (Fabrizio Bisconti)
Arcosolium with "Orpheus with lyre"
CUBICLE OF THE SEASONS early fourth century
In a cubicle there are beautiful and substantial traces consisting of marble floors and wall coverings shaped as four petals flowers in red porphyry and serpentine marble inserted in pavonazzetto marble

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