The Catacombs of Saint Sebastian

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

30 minutes

Description

The place where the Catacomb of San Sebastiano stands was in ancient times a deep depression, used as a pozzolana quarry and called ad catacumbas (or “near the cavities”), a name that has become synonymous with an underground cemetery.

Since the first century, the site has been intensely exploited and built: the underground galleries were reused to obtain burial niches, on the surface, however, several columbaria were built and at least two residential systems (the so-called small villa and large villa) equipped with remarkable pictorial wall decorations.

Around the middle of the second century, the bottom of the valley was buried to create a pitch, on one side of which three mausoleums were built in succession (by Clodius Hermes, by the Innocentiores, by the Ax).

A further burial of the area was made to give space to the construction of the triclia, a portico bordered by a wall on which numerous graffiti invocations addressed to the SS. Peter and Paul, who were venerated together in this place around 250.

On the site, then, the emperor Constantine (306-337) had a basilica in the shape of a Roman circus (called "circiforme").

Meanwhile, already in the third century, the catacomb that housed the tombs of the martyrs Sebastian and Eutichio began to develop underground. 

Entry prices

Full tickets € 8,50

  • For each Catacomb, including guided tour in a chosen language with Catacombs staff (for available languages in each Catacomb 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 and German.

For others entrance times, languages and days available, 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 SEBASTIAN

Address: Via Appia Antica, 136

  • BUS : Line 118 From Colosseo or Circo Massimo metro station on Line B
  • BUS: Line 218 From San Giovanni metro station on Line A

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 Google Maps

The Catacombs of Saint Sebastian

Below the Constantinian Basilica, we can see the mausoleums of the Innocentiores and of the Ax are characterized by an elegant stucco decoration, unusual for catacombs.

The mausoleum of Clodius Hermes, on the other hand, preserves refined frescoes inside that recall the three main moments of the funeral rite, while on the outer wall of the terrace above it is possible to witness a rich funeral banquet.

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On the back wall of the triclia, also known as memoria apostolorum, you can read more than five hundred graffiti invoking the intercession of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Very monumental, thanks to the intervention of the presbyters Proclino and Ursus, at the beginning of the sixth century, is the tomb of the martyr Sebastian.

In the ancient right aisle of the Constantinian basilica, it is possible to visit the museum of sarcophagi, an important testimony of the funerary sculptural art of late antiquity.

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