Catacombs of San Sebastiano

Rome, Italy

The Catacombs of San Sebastiano (Catacombe di San Sebastiano in Italian) are an underground cemetery in Rome that was used to bury Christians. It is located on the old and famous road Via Appia Antica (also known as the Appian Way). It consists of four levels, one of which is almost completely destroyed today.

The cemetery was named after the martyr St. Sebastian who is also buried within the cemetery. The cemetery has not always been known under the name of Catabombs of San Sebastiano, however. It was originally called “ad catacumbas” and later “Apostolic Memorial” (Memoria Apostolorum in Italian), which was dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul.

According to ancient sources, the three martyrs Quirinus, Sebastian, and Eutychius, were present within the cemetery, with the two last mentioned being buried there.

The site of the cemetery had been constructed upon from the first century, and a basilica has been erected. The basilica is the Basilica di San Sebastiano, which preserves one of the arrows that are believed to have been used to kill St. Sebastian.

Actually, the area in which the catacombs lie, used to be a pozzolan mine that was abandoned in the end of the second century, after which it was used as a place for pagan burial by Romans. Found within the cemetery is also simple graves for slaves, and also monumental tombs.

Also found at the cemetery is three incredibly well preserved mausoleums, and walls that show over 600 graffiti containing invocations to the apostles Peter and Paul. There are, however, many other monuments and artifacts to see.

The Catacombs of San Sebastiano are located very close to Catacombs of St. Callixtus and Catacombs of St. Domitilla, meaning that all three catacombs can conveniently be visited on the same day.

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