The Catacombs of San Callisto on a Holy Saturday

Today we woke up to drizzling that lasted all day.  It seemed kind of fitting for Holy Saturday.  So did visiting the catacombs which is what we did.  I've wanted to see the catacombs since I was a little girl and today I really got to go.  It was so cool.  There are three major ones you can visit here and Brian chose the Catacombs of San Callisto for today.  But I'm really hoping we'll have a chance to visit the other two as well.

Are you tired of seeing pictures of my loved ones from behind yet?

The boys, especially David, were very excited to see them, too.

I was super disappointed to find out that you can't take photographs when you're down there.  So you know how much of a blog nerd I am?  I bought some postcards so that I could remember them and then I took a picture of the postcards so I could post them here.  Behold, pictures of pictures:

It was amazing and again, I could have stayed for so much longer than we did.  They were started in the 200s and our guide told us that over five hundred THOUSAND people were buried here.  About fifty percent of them were babies.  Can you even imagine?  So many of the crypts were so so tiny.  

There were sixteen popes who had been buried here (remains since moved) and dozens of bishops.  You can still see the encryption on the walls.  This is the tomb of St. Cecilia.  The statue is a replica of one found in the church dedicated to her which also contains her relics and it lies where she was buried.  Those paintings on the left are some of the oldest Christian paintings that exist.  On top is St. Cecelia and below is Christ.

Our guide told us that many of the stories you hear about the catacombs are actually not true.  The Christians didn't go there to hide and the tombs themselves were well known to everyone as both pagans and Christians buried their dead like this.  She claimed that the Masses prayed down in the family vaults were only done as a family devotion for the dead.  I'm not sure how much of that is true, especially about the Mass, but I found it interesting.  

She did say that soldiers would raid the tombs looking for the Christians, especially while saying Mass, but that this wasn't a "hiding" place since there was nothing secret about its existence and they weren't ashamed of their faith.  I'm really curious to know more.

Anyway, they go down 75 feet through the lava rock in a maze of tunnels and rooms.  Only about three percent of them are able to be toured.  I wish we could have stayed so much longer but you're ushered through rather quickly.  If you come with a priest, you can celebrate Mass in one of the rooms where the earliest Christians did.  How amazing would that be?

Afterwards we tried to let the boys have some time to run but the rain put a little damper on things.  Above ground all over the place are the air vents that were dug thousands of years ago for the tombs. 

  We headed back to the bus stop pretty quickly and took our bus and two subways back to our little neighborhood. 

The catacombs are located on the Appian Way
(I had no idea that was significant until John Paul told me.)

 On the walk back we picked up some bread, cheese, and salami from a local shop for lunch.  Do you know how many types of cheese there are in Italy?  A lot.  And the person helping me didn't speak English.  It was quite a show really, me trying to order cheese.  Thankfully, I picked out something that was quite pleasant and all was well.

We headed out late in the afternoon to pick up some things to be blessed at Mass tomorrow.  But no one needs to see pictures of Brian and me wrangling four children in a religious goods store, now do they?

If you happen to see this and wouldn't mind saying a quick prayer that we get a seat for the Easter morning Mass tomorrow as well as Michael being able to receive his First Communion, I'd really really appreciate it.  We'll be up crazy early to get our spot :)  Thank you so much!

Other Notes from Today:
-Seriously, how does Brian just know how to do all the subways and buses and train stuff?  I'm amazed and baffled and quite obviously a country girl.
-The smell of the rainy Roman air as we walked.
-Holding my boys' hands all the time
-The elevator for our apartment is pretty quaint.  It's wooden and has the double doors and the boys fight over whose turn it is to push the button.
-So apparently our apartment owner neglected to describe the laundry as a shared laundry.  I opened the washer to find someone else's sheets while our own unmentionables may have been lying in a pile in front of it ready to go in when we got back...
-As I write this there's a thunderstorm happening.  And it's pretty cool.
-Almost everywhere we go someone asks "quattro ragazzi?" and we get to say "si!"


  1. Happy Easter and Michael - Happy First Communion. You have already seen and done so much and this is just the beginning of your stay in Italy. Love to all.

  2. Praying all goes well for Mass and for Michael.

  3. Very interesting eh!! if you find a book about the catacombs please share.


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