The Catacombs of Saint Callixtus

The catacombs are underground areas that were born between the end of the second and the beginning of the third century AD, used for the burial and funeral commemoration of the members of the Christian community.

These burial grounds were dug mainly in the tuff and in the pozzolana, as well as in other types of soil characterized by ease of processing and great resistance, such as to guarantee the creation of complex systems of tunnels and cubicles structured on different floors.

Some of these rooms are richly decorated, others have housed the tombs of the martyrs who during the Middle Ages attracted the devotion of numerous pilgrims.

Price

€ 8,50

Duration

40 min

Description

The Catacomb of S. Callisto extends between the Via Appia Antica and the Via Ardeatina and is, according to sources, the oldest official cemetery of the Christian community in Rome.

The complex takes its name from the deacon Callisto who, under Pope Zephyrinus (199-217), was in charge of the administration of the cemetery and who, having become pope (217-222), greatly enlarged it.

The cemetery complex is spread over five floors in some points and its galleries have a development of over 10 kilometers.

In 1854 the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi discovered the crypt of the popes, which housed the burials of the popes who reigned between 230 and 283. Nine popes and three bishops were buried in this tomb. In a contiguous environment is the burial of St. Cecilia, a Roman matron who tradition remembers as the one who took care to give a worthy burial to so many Roman martyrs.

One of the oldest nuclei of the cemetery complex is the crypt of Lucina, where Pope Cornelius was buried, who died a martyr in 253. In a nearby cubicle there are some of the oldest frescoes in the Roman catacombs (late 2nd - early 3rd century) : on the ceiling a Good Shepherd with prayers and, on the back wall, two fish with a basket of bread on the back, symbol of the Eucharist.

Another ancient region is the so-called "Area I" where the cubicles "of the sacraments" are located, because the subjects of the paintings that decorate them were once thought to allude to Baptism and the Eucharist. 

Entry prices

Full tickets € 8.50

  • The ticket includes a guided tour of the Catacombs with internal staff (for available languages see below) 

Reduced tickets € 5.50

  • 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.

Information and reception

  • 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.

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

For others entrance times, languages and available days please write to info@omniavaticanrome.org

ANTI COVID SECURITY MEASURES:

  • Common areas are regularly sanitized
  • Access to the site is limited to avoid crowds
  • People with fever, cough, sore throat or other flu-like symptoms are not allowed to enter

Please:

  • Disinfect your hands upon arrival
  • Always use the face mask
  • Always keep a safety distance of at least 1 meter from other people
  • Avoid contact with people and things
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cough or sneeze into a disposable handkerchief or use the crook of the elbow

 

How to get there using public transport

SAINT CALLIXTUS

Address: Via Appia Antica, 110

From Termini Station:

  • Metro A (direction Anagnina) to San Giovanni then bus 218 (direction Ardeatina) to the stop Fosse Ardeatine. You will find the entrance to the Catacombs in front of you.
  • Metro B (direction Laurentina) to Colosseo or Circo Massimo (bus stop: Terme Caracalla/Porta Capena), then bus 118 (direction Appia/Villa Dei Quintili) to the stop Catacombe di San Callisto (Via Appia, 110).

The value of the experience

The oldest name of these places dug underground was our and most common "cemetery", a word that derives from the Greek and means "place of rest". When Christians laid down the bodies of their deceased loved ones they were certain that they were only asleep for a long sleep, awaiting the awakening of the resurrection. For this reason the catacombs are not sad dark slums, but they are a secret world that opens to the pilgrim with all the beauty, faith and memory of those who believed in Christ and in his word of hope.

Card. Ravasi

The position GoogleMaps

Points of interest

The crypt of the popes is a rectangular room illuminated by a large skylight, with niches and niches for sarcophagi obtained in the side walls.

On the back wall a marble slab, recomposed by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi, bears a poem composed by Pope Damasus (366-384) in honor of the bishops placed in the catacomb.

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The cubicles "of the sacraments" contain paintings dated to the first half of the third century, which represent scenes of the prophet Jonah, the healing of the paralytic, the resurrection of Lazarus, the baptism of Jesus and banquet scenes.

Also richly decorated are the faced cubicles of Pope Miltiades and the Seasons, with representations that reflect the characteristic themes of the most ancient Roman paintings.

Two more cubicles retain the burials of two other popes, Gaius and Eusebius. In the latter's tomb you can see the monumental inscribed slab that Pope Damasus dedicated to him.

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