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.
Marcellinus and Peter are Roman martyrs of early Christianity, saints of the Catholic Church. They suffered death by beheading during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). According to tradition, their bodies were thrown into a grave that they themselves had to dig. The site of the terrible martyrdom of the two saints was known as 'Selva Nera' (meaning 'Black Forest'), but after their death it was renamed 'Selva Candida', that is 'White Forest', along Via Cornelia. Their bodies were retrieved from their original grave by Saint Lucilla, who reburied them with due reverence along the Via Casilina, in a place named ad Duas Lauros, where there was already a cemetery in those days (the bodies of some 15,000 people were deposited there).
Catacombs named after these saints are located in Rome on Via Latina. In one of the crypts there is a fresco depicting the two martyrs along with St. Gorgonius and St. Tiburtius next to Jesus Christ, standing in the middle in the form of a lamb. The area where the catacombs extend is 18,000 square meters. They are the third largest catacombs in Rome.