Catacombs of Priscilla Renovated and Reopened

The Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome have just reopened after years of restoration. The complex is known as “regina catacumbarum” (queen of the catacombs) because of the great number of martyrs buried inside. The restoration was undertaken by the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology.

The Catacombs comprise a series of tunnels under what was an ancient quarry near Via Salaria, Rome. It is divided into three sections: the arenarium (sandquarry), cryptoporticus (a system of vaults that let in light and protect the catacombs from heat) and the hypogeum (an oversized tomb) where the Acilius Glabrio family is buried. The decorations in the tombs depict many teachings of the New and Old Testaments, especially stories of salvation. Inside the cryptoporticus, the Greek Chapel is particularly exceptional. It is a square chamber with scenes depicting the Last Judgment, the prophet Isaiah and the Madonna and Child.

Catacombs of Priscilla from

Named after Priscilla, a member of this noble family, who donated the land to the Church, the Catacombs were discovered in the 16th century. Since then, many of its inscriptions, bodies and sarcophagi were displaced, though the frescoes remain.