The Catacombs of St. Callixtus

An unknown believer in early times, while wandering through the vast Callixtian complex, all of a sudden thought he had entered the mystical Jerusalem, a city purpled by the blood of martyrs and resplendent with their glory. As he went out he carved on the plastered wall near the crypt of the Popes a statement we can still read to-day:

“Gerusale, civitas et ornamentum martyru(m) D(e)i …” – “Jerusalem, city and ornament of God’s martyrs …”.

Today’s pilgrims can likewise grasp the innermost secret of the spirituality of those martyred Popes, of those Virgins and of the numberless host of humble Christians.The inscriptions and paintings, which have survived the many ravages and pillages, reveal at least in part such a secret and still repeat the words engraved in an ancient epitaph “Tàuta o bìos” – “Such is our life”.

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