Life amid death
Sad and beautiful, The Christian Catacombs of Rome takes you deep into the tombs where early Christians interred their martyrs — and later hid when they themselves were hunted.
This image-rich site centers on the catacombs of St. Callixtus, one of the six in Italy that are open to the public. It offers an indepth look at the four levels of graves up to 65 feet deep, covering 90 acres.
Like all good Web sites, The Christian Catacombs imparts understanding as well as information. It gives a history of the catacombs and the persecution by Rome — even excerpting Christian letters from the second and third centuries. It also explains the various symbols on the walls, like the anchor, the dove and the Chi Rho monogram.
“In the catacombs everything speaks of life more than death,” says one evocative paragraph. “Every gallery they pass through, every symbol or painting they see, every inscription they read, brings the past to life and gives a message of faith and of Christian testimony.”
The site has tools for an actual, physical visit as well: ticket prices, hours, locator maps, even bus routes. The maps are just embedded in the text, though; they would have been better as printable .pdf files.