Rome: The Catacombs

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Rome: The Catacombs

The word catacomb comes from the Greek word meaning underground burial (5).? Catacombs are just that, underground cemeteries.? The early Christian church in ancient Rome used these cemeteries from the second century to the fifth century AD (5).? At first, these underground burials were only used as cemeteries.? During the persecutions of the Christian church around 64 AD, these catacombs were used as places of refuge for Christians (5).? Here they could celebrate the Eucharist and other ceremonies that were condemned by the Roman government (5).? After the persecutions ended around 366 AD, the catacombs became a shrine for the martyrs and a place of pilgrimage and devotion for Christians throughout the entire Roman Empire (5).? The Catacombs were uncovered again in the late 16th century (3).? A total of about 60 Catacombs have been discovered in and around the city of Rome (3).

?The burial places were located underground, instead of above ground like today?s cemeteries, for numerous reasons.? The main reason tombs were built underground was because of the lack of space above ground (5).? Rome was a growing city that left little room for above ground cemeteries (5).? It was also against Roman law to bury within the city walls of Rome (4).? Early Christians believed in burials, instead of cremations, because Christ had been buried.? Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 15: 3 and 4, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1).? Later, in verse 20 Paul says, "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who ha...

... middle of paper ... men were soldiers of the imperial guard and were killed for confessing their faith (6).? The other three catacombs are smaller and made up of only one or two chambers each.

?The Roman Catacombs reveal a lot about the culture and history of ancient Rome and the early Christians.? These underground networks are more than just a burial system, they provide a look into the lives and beliefs of the people who lived there.?


1. Life Application Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991.

2. Nyborg, Chris. "Catacombe de San Callisto."? 2000

3. Rutgers, Leonard Victor.? Subterranean Rome. Peeters: Leuven, 2000.

4. Stevenson, James.? The Catacombs. Thames and Hudson: London, 1978.

5. "The Christian Catacombs of Rome".?

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