The Catacombs of Priscilla

15
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Priority access
  • Mobile Ticket
  • Photos and filming not allowed

What to expecct?

  • Visit the catacombs rich in acient paintings
  • Admire the oldest depiction of Mary and the Child
  • Learn about the history of customs related to the burial of Romans and Christians
  • Skip the line and don't waste your time

A place of spiritual pilgrimage

The catacombs are a place of spiritual pilgrimage, a powerful experience and at the same time a romantic reverie on the passing of time. In fear of epidemics and according to custom the Romans buried their dead outside the city walls: along the Via Appia, stretch the tombs of Romans, Christians and Jews, and, for the less wealthy, the catacombs, whose multi-level galleries and niches (loculi) form a labyrinth carved into the tuff.
Christians and Jews buried bodies, while Romans cremated corpses and deposited ashes in urns. Embalmed or shrouded bodies of Christians were placed on rock shelves, placed under marble slabs in the floor or in family crypts.

Priscilla was a Roman from the family of Acylius (Latin: Acilii). Her hypogeum was identified during excavations in 1888-1889. Priscilla's catacombs stretch for 13 kilometers along the ancient Via Salaria in Rome. The necropolis was active from the 2nd to 5th centuries. The oldest and also the deepest galleries consist of corridors and ornately painted chapels, many depicting biblical scenes and motifs. Seven popes of the ancient era were buried in the catacombs.

Ancient Christians depicted scenes taken from the Old and New Testaments, with the Christian symbol of the fish (ichthys) dominating the tombstones. One of the underground burial chapels, the so-called Cubicule of the Velatio depicts an orante with her hands raised in a prayer gesture; the woman is wearing a liturgical vestment and her head is covered by a veil. On the vault, the Good Shepherd is depicted between peacocks and doves. In the same room, scenes taken from the Old Testament are depicted: the sacrifice of Abraham, the prophet Jonah coming out of the fish, and three young men in a fiery furnace. The paintings date to the second half of the third century.

One of the catacomb niches probably contains the oldest depiction of Mary and the Child, dating from the 2nd to the 3rd century. Complementing the scene is the figure of a prophet pointing to a star. In the so-called Greek Chapel with an arcosolium, an early Christian painter depicted an image of agape, a reference to the eucharist celebrated occasionally at burial sites.

What is included?

  • The ticket includes a guided tour of the Catacombs with internal staff
  • Booking and management fees

Available options

  • Languages available for guided tours: English, Italian, French, Spanish, German

Price reductions

Reduced tickets

  • Minors aged between 7 and 16
  • Groups of students from primary and secondary schools and institutes (7 to 16-year-olds)
  • Archaeology, Architecture, Art History and Cultural Heritage students up to the age of 25 upon exhibiting the required certification
  • Men and women of the clergy, nuns, seminarists and novices upon exhibiting the required certification

Free tickets

  • Children up to the age of 6
  • Disabled visitors and chaperones
  • Students of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology (upon exhibiting the card issued by the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology)
  • Priests and nuns of the Religious Community of Custodians of the Catacombs. Teachers, university tutors and catechists accompanying a group (one free entrance for every 15 paying visitors)
  • Groups of 35 or more visitors paying full price can benefit from two free entrances
  • Tourist guides with valid licence and researchers who provide documentary proof of their studies may apply for free entrance with the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology.

Meeting point

To remember

  • Given the specific nature of the sites, there are specific limitations for disabled visitors.
  • We recommend visitors to wear shoes appropriate for an ancient often uneven surface and, according to the time of year, clothes appropriate for underground temperatures.
  • No photos or filming in the Catacombs.
  • No smoking inside the monuments.