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Google Maps teams up with the Vatican: The 'Catacombs of Priscilla' go digital

2013-11-20

For years, these Roman catacombs were closed off, but now the Vatican has decided to open them completely for the world to see.  In fact, thanks to Google Maps, people from every corner of the globe see the catacombs of Priscilla. The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology, which is headed by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, agreed to give the catacombs a digital presence. 

CARD. GIANFRANCO RAVASI
President, Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology
"This is actually the first time that something like this happens. It was carried out by Google Maps and you'll be able to see that it truly is an unedited experience that gives people the possibility of visiting the catacombs through different means.”

So, history and new technology come together to show users miles of the catacombs. This one in particular, gives special insight on how early Christians lived in Rome. It houses the oldest fresco depicting the Virgin Mary. Also items that marked someone's death and even paintings from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. 

BARBARA MAZZEI
Catacombs of Priscilla
"The catacombs are important because they provide physical proof of Christian history. It shows how early Christians lived out their faith. They expressed it along with frescoes and sculptures, that are now part of this new museum.” 

Actually walking, or rather clicking through these catacombs is easy. In addition to Google Maps, the museum has a new website that can directly connect users the digital tour experience. It also shows how some of the historical pieces were restored, including items that were found underground. Among that list are more than 700 sarcophagi fragments, which can now be seen at the museum. 

It has been more than 1700 years since these frescoes were first painted and since these sculptures were made, in this case technology is being used to travel back in time. 


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