PC and Santa Priscilla

PC and Santa Priscilla

Posted by: on September 25, 2015   |Comments (0)|Theology classes in Rome

“Our tour guide told us that over 400 martyrs were said to have been buried in these catacombs…These martyrs, in their suffering, mirrored the suffering of Jesus Christ before them.” Vanessa Zuleta

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Last week our site visit for the New Testament in the Eternal City class was the Catacombs of St. Priscilla.  Because of the great number of martyrs buried there and the fact that it is mentioned in the most ancient documents of Christian topography and liturgy, it is called the “regina catacumbarum” or the Queen of the Catacombs”.

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There are over 50 catacomb complexes underneath Rome stretching for nearly three hundred miles. Many of them have ancient Christian inscriptions and decorations.

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Although there are several Christian catacombs that are open to the public, I chose Santa Priscilla because of the richness of the artwork and inscriptions.  It has the oldest image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the so-called “Greek Chapel” is an absolute treasure trove of frescoes depicting biblical images from the Old and New Testaments.

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Contrary to popular Christian imagination, the early Christians never lived in the catacombs.  In fact, it would have been dangerous even to pray publicly there as a group since it could have led to discovery and arrest during the days of the Roman persecution of the Church.

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The catacombs were a place of burial and remembrance.  The frescoes and inscriptions are testimony to the faith of the early Christians and their hope of resurrection.  The tombs of the martyrs take pride of place and are usually richly decorated.

“As I observed the graves of our spiritual predecessors, I found myself in awe of their faith. Even in death, they formed a community where they could rest in peace… The beautiful frescoes serve as a testament to their faith…” Sierra Loya

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During our tour, the students were able to connect many of the motifs of the frescoes and inscriptions with theological and spiritual themes from our New Testament course.

“A wealthy woman by the name of Priscilla dedicated these specific catacombs to be used as a cemetery for Christians… Around many of the tombs is drawn the symbol of a fish representing the statement, “Jesus Christ Son of God Savior”. Anthony Ravosa

“Through the depths of the Catacombs of Priscilla, themes in the Gospel of Mark are on physical display. These burial grounds provide great evidence of how early Christianity was practiced based on the inscriptions and images remaining in the catacombs.” Claire O’Connor

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“…the Gospel of Mark, and our visit to the catacombs demonstrated that once you understand the “secret” of the Gospel of Mark you can understand the true message of Christianity: that you must lose your life in order to regain it.” Julia Textor

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“Many look at the brutal ways by which Christians were executed under Nero or Diocletian and think it occurred during a less civilized period far in the past. In examining the current situation in the Middle East, it is apparent… that the message in the Gospel of Mark is as important to suffering Christians today as it was when it was written in 70 AD.” Meghan Donohoe

Go Friars!

 

 

 

 

“Our tour guide told us that over 400 martyrs were said to have been buried in these catacombs…These martyrs, in... MORE

Underground Christianity

Posted by: on October 1, 2014   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

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“After studying Mark’s gospel and visiting the Catacombs of Priscilla, the main connection and overbearing Christian theme between the two becomes the resurrection and human salvation.” – Gregory Nicolai

Priscilla8

During our recent study of St. Mark’s gospel, we visited the Catacombs of St. Priscilla.  Because of the great number of martyrs buried there and the fact that it is mentioned in the most ancient documents of Christian topography and liturgy, it is called the “regina catacumbarum” or the Queen of the Catacombs”.

Priscilla1

There are over 50 catacomb complexes underneath Rome stretching for nearly three hundred miles. Many of them have ancient Christian inscriptions and decorations. Although there are several Christian catacombs that are open to the public, I chose Santa Priscilla because of the richness of the artwork and inscriptions.  It has the oldest image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the so-called “Greek Chapel” is an absolute treasure trove of frescoes depicting biblical images from the Old and New Testaments.

Priscilla5

Contrary to popular Christian imagination, the early Christians never lived in the catacombs.  In fact, it would have been dangerous even to pray publicly there as a group since it could have led to discovery and arrest during the days of the Roman persecution of the Church.  The catacombs were a place of burial and remembrance.  The fresoes and inscriptions are testimony to the faith of the early Christians and their hope of resurrection.  The tombs of the martyrs take pride of place and are usually richly decorated.

Priscilla7

During our tour, the students were able to connect many of the motifs of the frescoes and inscriptions with theological and spiritual themes from our New Testament course.

Priscilla4“Since this Gospel was written at the time of Christian persecution by the Romans, there needed to be an emphasis on the new life that came from death and that Jesus secured that new life for us…This assurance of rebirth in Mark’s Gospel clearly had an effect on the early Christians because on their inscriptions in the catacombs they would write the death date of the deceased.  The date symbolizes the birth date of their new life with Christ.” – Kevin Gleason

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“The art in the Catacombs reflects the paradox and Christian belief in an afterlife. It also replicates Mark’s story that you must die and understand suffering before you can truly live. These paintings show that life and eternal happiness is beyond the grave, which ties in with the paradox of the Catacombs that you can find such life and beauty in an area of death.” – Rainy Paul

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“In Mark’s Gospel, the cross is a central symbol that is present throughout and in order to be a Christian one must take up their own cross, which connects to the sufferings of the Christians in Rome during a time of persecution…In the catacombs, the centrality of the cross is represented by the symbol of suffering and death, which is everywhere because many of the the Christians who were buried there were martyrs who fought for their faith.” Hayley White

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“Christians view the cross as a sign of Jesus Christ, who gave his life for the gift of salvation and correspondingly at the catacombs the cross symbolized salvation. The Christian belief of afterlife is the idea of life after death; in the catacombs of Priscilla, a place of burial and death, the artwork represents life, which could be symbolism for afterlife.” – Hannah Struever

Go Friars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“After studying Mark’s gospel and visiting the Catacombs of Priscilla, the main connection and overbearing Christian theme between the two... MORE