Catacombs of St. Callixtus

Rome, Italy

The Catacombs of St. Callixtus is the most popular and the biggest catacomb of the Catacombe di Roma (or “Catacombs of Rome”) with varieties of galleries, and it is about 20 meters deep and 19 km long. Even more impressive is that fact that the catacombs are of four levels. The catacombs are located on the ancient and famous Appian Way. The Catacombs of St. Callixtus have the most tours among the other catacombs.

The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are some of the most important catacombs in Rome and originated in the second century. As its name implies, the catacombs were used for burial purposes under the city of Rome. Thus, 16 popes, up to 50 martyrs, and a lot of Christians were buried. Burying people in catacombs was popular among the Roman Christians in ancient times.

The catacombs are named after the deacon Callixtus. Appointed by pope Zephyrinus, he became the administrator of the cemetery. He was later buried at the Catacomb of Calepodius on Via Aurelia (Aurelian Way).

The underground cemetery consists of many important areas, the most important one being the area of the Popes. This was the official burial place of popes, where nine popes were buried, and it was therefore named The Little Vatican. As of this day, one can still see original Greek inscriptions of five of the popes.

The Crypt of St. Cecilia is the place of St. Cecilia, the popular patron saint of music. She was martyred and buried where the statue of St. Cecilia is placed today, and was venerated in the crypt for at least five centuries. Her relics were, however, transferred in 821, to Trastevere in the basilica dedicated to her. Near the statue of St. Cecilia, is an ancient painting of St. Cecilia. Other features include the figure of St. Urban and paintings of the three martyrs Polycamus, Sebastian, and Quirinus.

The catacombs and crypt were rediscovered in 1854 by Giovanni Battista de Rossi, who was an Italian archaeologist.

The Catacombs of St. Callixtus are located close to both the Catacombs of St. Domitilla and the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, so visiting all three in one go is quite convenient.

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