HC 2.c: Ken & Harriet’s Story of the Catacombs

Ken & Harriet saw a catacomb in 2005 on their Italy holiday, one of the six catacombs from ancient 3rd century Rome.

Emperor Nero’s law against all Christians in 64 AD. began to implement persecutions against Christians in the Roman Empire. The law was in full force right up to the signing the Edict of Milan in the year 313, when the persecution of Christians ceased.

The Christians didn’t agree with the pagan custom of burning the bodies of their dead, for which reason to solve problems created from a lack of space and the high price of land they decided to create these large underground cemeteries.

  • The catacombs possess a large number of subterranean passageways that form real labyrinths that are several kilometres long, along which rows of rectangular niches were dug out.
  • The corpses were wrapped in a sheet and placed in the niches, which were then covered with gravestones made of marble or, more commonly, baked clay. Subsequently, the name of the deceased was carved on the cover accompanied by a Christian symbol.
  • We caught a bus out to one of these catacombs. We were on a timetable  for when we could go and see it, there were so many people there to see it.
  • The background of this catacomb that it was the land of this wealthy Christian lady. As  Christians they  did not agree with the pagan custom of burning the bodies of their dead, they decided to create this underground cemetery on this ladies land as one of many around ancient 3rd century Rome.
  • There were Christian men who dug down through soft volcanic rock  and carefully carried out the dugout material in sacks and carefully spread on the ground.
  • See this website to see what this catacomb like:  Catacombs of Rome
  • The tunnels were lighted with olive oil lights and were about 2.5 metres high. They dug out rows of rectangular niches for corpses.
  • When they came to family members, they dug out a rounded room with a row of rectangular niches. This was the catacomb.
  • One day the wealthy lady was down  in the catacomb  praying with four men from her church. A Roman legion heard they were down there and went running  down and caught the five of them. They  took  the  four men upstairs and killed them straight away  and came back the wealthy lady. They said for her to leave her Christianity behind and come back to their gods.
  • She held out three fingers meaning Father, Son and Holy Spirit. She wasn’t going to leave Jesus behind. They slit her throat so that she bled slowly to death on the rock.
  • The church grew on to blood of the martyrs. You and I are here because of what they went through.


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