In our opinion, the little-visited catacombs of Saint Agnes, on the Via Nomentana, as well as the little-known catacombs under Saint Priscilla offer the best glimpse of the beguiling, hidden world of the Christian catacombs and their artistic, cultural, and religious legacy. Far from the tourist crowds, these are some of the best preserved catacombs in Rome. During this three-hour excursion in the company of an archaeologist or historian we'll explore these two catacomb complexes and discuss role in early Christianity.
We'll meet in central Rome and head out to the catacombs by car. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the first site, during which our docent will provide us with some background history and context-setting information for our visit. Upon arrival, we will descend into the labyrinthine corridors and rooms where during the early medieval period, Christian faithful interred their dead. Here we'll discuss burial practices from the Roman into the early Christian period, the role that the catacombs served, and their enduring significance in later periods.
We'll also have time to visit the magical space of S. Agnese, located on top of the catacombs of the same name, one of the most significant early Christian spaces in the city. In her rumination on the church, Geometry of Love, writer Margaret Visser describes the sublime architecture of this church as a "recognition of ... spiritual awakening."