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What the catacombs tell us about early Christians

2013-11-29

History, religion and archeology are all nestled in the Roman catacombs of Priscilla. One of the most recent discoveries is a fresco depicting Lazarus rising from the dead. The fresco is centuries old, but now thanks to new technology it has been restored with the use of lasers. 

BARBARA MAZZEI
Restorative Museum, The Catacombs of Priscilla
"In one of the areas we restored we found a representation of Lazarus rising from the dead. In addition to that, it's also interesting to see that they drew images of Peter and Paul accompanying the dead. Two martyrs of the catacomb, Felix and Phillip are also depicted.” 

For many years now, the Vatican's Pontifical Commission on Sacred Archeology, has made it a point to restore these artistic treasures. After investing time, money and effort, basically all this artwork which dates back to the 3rd and 4th centuries has been restored.

BARBARA MAZZEI
Restorative Museum, The Catacombs of Priscilla
"In 20 years we have progressively restored all the paintings inside this building, which is incredible. This last year alone, we've focused on restoring surfaces, like that of the Basilica of San Silvestre.” 

So now the final result of these restorations are up for everyone to see at an exhibit housed at the Basilica of San Silvestre. The underground catacombs lead visitors to a historic chapter in early Christianity. 

MSGR. GIOVANNI CARRÙ
Secretary, Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archeology 
"Visiting the catacombs of Priscilla has now become a journey, one could even describe it as a privileged journey of how the Bible was used to understand the faith. It's interesting to see how early Christians depicted Biblical scenes to decorate dark catacombs, which ironically are now full of light.” 

More than 700 sarcophagi fragments have been restored to shed light on how these early Christians lived, including how they lived their faith inside these hidden catacombs. 


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