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.
St. Agnes lived in Rome in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. Her parents were Christians and raised her according to the tenets of the faith. The saint died a martyr's death during the persecution during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian or Decius (3rd century), confessing her faith and defending her virginity. St. Agnes died at the age of twelve and was one of the most popular Christian martyrs in the Roman Empire. St. Agnes' resting place was in the catacombs that existed along the via Nomentana. Today her remains can be seen in an ornate reliquary in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, according to accounts deposited exactly above her original tomb.
Before Christian catacombs were built at the site, pagan catacombs had previously existed here, as well as a Praetorian Guard cemetery. The earliest burials took place around II AD. Today, in the vast underground corridors with a total length of 10 km, one can see niches carved into the soft tuff, into which the bodies of the dead, wrapped in sheets, were placed. They were closed with stone slabs, sometimes inscribed with inscriptions or symbols of the Christian faith. In the midst of the labyrinth one can find a cubicula - a kind of small chapel where wealthy Christians were buried, away from the poor. In the catacombs, not many paintings have survived, while many inscriptions and graffiti can be seen.