Explore the Sacred Burial Grounds of the Catacombs of Commodilla
Quick Facts About Catacombs of Commodilla
- Official name: Catacombs of Commodilla
- Address: Via delle Sette Chiese 40-44, Rome, Italy
- Founded: 4th century
- Timings: Tuesday to Sunday: 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM (Closed on Mondays)
- Function: Burial site for early Christians
Why Visit the Catacombs of Commodilla?
- Rich history: The underground tombs date back to the 4th century AD, and will allow you the opportunity to learn about the early Christian practices in Rome.
- Artistic treasures: Admire stunning frescoes and bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Bible that adorn the catacombs' walls.
- Discover ancient Rome: Get a glimpse into the past and learn about the cultural, social, and religious customs of ancient Romans by visiting one of Rome's oldest and most historic sites.
Plan Your Visit to the Catacombs of Commodilla
What's Inside the Catacombs of Commodilla?
Shrine of SS Felix and Adauctus
The large shrine-crypt was created by expanding the original quarry spine passage. It features two arcosolia (arched burial recesses) and two round-headed apsidal niches, potentially once housing statuary. The crypt was adorned with frescoes, although many have deteriorated over time. Notable surviving works include a fresco of the two saints in the main arcosolium tomb, depicting Felix and Adauctus, and a 6th-century fresco in the second arcosolium showing Christ giving the keys to St. Peter. Another prominent fresco depicts Madonna and Child with Felix, Adauctus, and Turtura.
Epitaph of Pope Damasus
The Epitaph of Pope Damasus, though only partially preserved, provides valuable insight into the veneration of Saints Felix and Adauctus. The epitaph honors their unwavering faith and courageous martyrdom. It recounts how Felix, whose name means "happy," embraced his faith and rejected worldly power, while Adauctus, meaning "consecrated for sacrifice," triumphantly ascended to heaven. The epitaph also acknowledges Pope Damasus, who commissioned the construction and decoration of the saints' tomb. This epitaph likely influenced the creation of the fictional legends surrounding the saints, including the account of Adauctus volunteering to join Felix in martyrdom.
Early Italian Graffito
An intriguing feature found within the Catacombs of Commodilla is an early Italian graffito. This scratched inscription, believed to date back to the 9th century, is an interesting linguistic artifact. It reads: "Non dicere ille secrita a bboce."
While the exact interpretation is subject to debate, the inscription can be roughly translated as: "Don't speak secret things aloud there."
This graffito is considered one of the earliest examples of proto-Italian or early Italian language, offering a glimpse into the linguistic development and cultural practices of the time.
St. Emerita's Tomb
Uncover the tomb of St. Emerita, located down the wide spine-passage away from the main shrine-crypt. This unique tomb, described as "like an oven," stands out with its longitudinal excavation into the wall. While the origins of this tomb are still under debate, it adds an intriguing element to the catacombs and invites exploration and contemplation.
The Cubiculum of Leo
A prestigious communal chamber with its own separate entrance, the Cubiculum of Leo dates from the late 4th century or shortly after. The relatively small space boasts three arcosolia and is completely adorned with exquisite frescoes painted in costly scarlet cinnabar. The walls depict scenes from the New Testament and the life of St. Pau. The most significant artwork is found on the curved roof; a remarkable fresco panel showcasing Christ as a majestic, bearded figure known as the Pantocrator. This depiction marks the earliest example of this iconic motif, which later became widespread in sacred art.
Tomb of St. Merita
Boldetti, an Italian archaeologist and scholar, who played a significant role in the exploration and study of the Catacombs of Commodilla claimed that the shrine-tomb of St. Emerita, a virgin martyr, can be found in the wide spine-passage, separate from the main shrine-crypt. Boldetti arrived at this conclusion by noting the presence of a fresco depicting a young woman on the tympanum of an arcosolium in that area, as well as the high number of graves surrounding it, implying its popularity among the faithful. While these pieces of evidence are not definitive or conclusive, no other potential location for St. Emerita's shrine has been discovered thus far, making this site a significant possibility.
History of the Catacombs of Commodilla
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Frequently Asked Questions About Catacombs of Commodilla
The Commodilla Catacombs feature ancient tunnels and rooms that were used for burying early Christian martyrs. You can admire the intricate frescoes and artwork that decorate the walls and ceilings of the catacombs.
The Catacombs of Commodilla holds great historical and cultural significance as an ancient burial site for early Christians. Visiting them provides insights into early Christian beliefs, burial practices, and the challenges faced by the Christian community during a time of persecution.
Yes, the Catacombs of Commodilla are open to the public for guided tours. Visitors can explore the underground chambers and learn about the history and significance of the site from knowledgeable guides.
The catacombs are renowned for their intricate frescoes that depict scenes from the Bible, including the Last Supper, the Good Shepherd, and other religious motifs. Notably, the Catacombs of Commodilla are home to one of the earliest known depictions of Jesus with a beard, a significant representation that deviates from the earlier tradition of portraying him as a youthful figure.
There is generally no age restriction for visiting the catacombs. However, it is important to note that the underground passages can be narrow and dimly lit, which may not be suitable for very young children or individuals with mobility issues. It is advisable to assess your personal comfort and safety before planning a visit.
No, photography is not allowed inside the catacombs to ensure the preservation of delicate frescoes and artworks.
The Catacombs of Commodilla are located in Rome, a city rich in historical and cultural landmarks. Nearby attractions include the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Appian Way, and the Baths of Caracalla, among others. It is worth exploring the surrounding area to make the most of your visit to this historically significant part of Rome.