Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rome Day 2 - Catacombs of San Calisto

Finally I was now off to the Catacombs of San Calistco. These are the largest and most famous catacombs in Rome. There's a few other catacombs but I did not have time to see them all since I was blitzing as much as I could.

Unfortunately pictures are not allowed in the catacombs so I don't have much to show here. They are however very amazing. You can only see them via a tour. Buy your ticket and wait for your alloted time. A Catholic priest will then guide you underground and give you the tour. The priest that gave me my tour was from the Philippines. He moved us along faster than I would have liked but that is because the air inside is contaminated with the dust underground and not good for you. For tourists it is not a big deal but for people that go in there often it can accumulate overtime and have adverse health affects.

The catacombs were built in 150 AD because Christians were not allowed to bury their dead in the city during this period of the Roman Empire. This catacomb had the remains of the original four Popes, some amazingly old frescos, and the mummified remains of a few people. When Rome was sacked the barbarians raided the catacombs taking whatever valuables that had been buried with the dead. During these raids the remains of the dead were scattered all over so it has become nearly impossible to figure out which bones belong to which tomb. I specifically asked about the remains of the four Popes. During the tour I was told their bones had been moved to the Vatican. I asked if they were able to figure out which bones belonged to which Priest. I didn't get an answer. The Priest either didn't understand my question or didn't really want to answer it giving me some lame answer which I no longer remember.

The Priest asked the group if we all thought Christians hid in the catacombs to hide from persecution. Nearly everyone said yes. I was the first person to say no; I believe one other guy said no. The Priest said that even he believed Christians hid in the catacombs before he came to Rome. The answer is No; Christians did not hide in the catacombs to escape persecution. The reason why is because the air in the catacombs was not good enough to allow people to stay there for extended periods of time. He also asked if Christians held worship in the catacombs. He specifically asked me since I had been asking so many history questions and probably because I said "no" to the question about hiding in the Catacombs. I said yes, I believe early Christians did worship in the catacombs. He said I was correct and said I was very good at history. Ha. I don't know about that, I'm just an engineer, but it did make me smile (at least inside). In the present day Christians will sometimes still come down to the catacombs to worship. It's not just Catholics that come even though the catacombs are owned by the Cathloic Church. Protestants are allowed to come and hold prayer there as well. The appeal is to try and get the feeling of the first Christians.

Like I wrote earlier I don't have any pictures really, so here's what I got:

Cecilia Metella
Cecilia Metella
Some ruins on my way to the Catacombs of San Callisto
My ticket to the Catacombs of San Callisto
Since I couldn't take any pictures inside the catacombs I'm just going to post pictures of this pamphlet

Alright this wasn't part of the catacombs but it's a statue of a a naket dude.

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