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which was enjoined for the dating of all public acts by Justinian, A.D. 587, scarcely in any instance occurs before that period. We follow with interest in those chiselled lines the last traces of the existence, and the gradual dying out, of that proud institution, the Roman consulate; the unostentatious language of these Christian epitaphs here supplying the last monumental evidence to this once great historic reality. The consulate proper to Rome expired in the year 531, after being held in the last instance by De ius Paulinus; in the following year, however, reappearing when assumed by Belisarius after his Italian victories. From 534 to 544, only one consul (for the Eastern Empire) is on record; and in that last year The faith of the primitive Church as to the office was suppressed by Justinian, the Divine Being, her Founder and Head, though once more assumed, in his own per- is clear, as in letters of light, on these monson, by an emperor, namely Justin in 566: umental pages: we read it (to cite one reup to which date the computation, since markable example) conveyed in the strangethe act of suppression, had been accordingly confused Latin and Greek not unfrequently found among Christian epitaphs, with the following distinct utterance,—

century; and the year of the emperor, vidua Dei," of one among whom we read on her epitaph that she “never burdened the Church;" here also do we find proof of the dedication of females, the "ancilla Dei," or "virgo Dei," - first type of the consecrated nun,- sometimes, it seems, so set apart by the vows of their parents from infancy. Interesting is it to trace the growth of a feeling which, from the utterance of prayer for the dead, passed to the invoking of their intercessions for the living,- -as "Vivas in Deo et roga;" and the recommending of their spirits to some specially revered saint, rather as a formula of pious valediction than the expression of anything like dogma in regard to human intercessors, as, nomine Petri, in pace Christi."


to the years (as we see in these epitaphs) 66 post Consulatum Basilii" (after the consu late of Basilius), who had last held that office




at Constantinople. Curious in this lapidary|ΖΗΣΗΣ IN ΔΕΟ ΧΡΙΣΤΟ ΥΛΗ IN HAKE style is the use of the epithet "divus," long given to defunct emperors without scruple, i. e., "Mayest thou live in God Christ, as a mere civil honour, by their Christian Sylva, in peace;" we read it in the formusubjects. Together with characteristics of las where this holy Name is otherwise acbrevity and simplicity, we notice, in these companied with what declares belief — as, epitaphs, a serene spirit of resignation that "in Christo Deo," or "in D. Christo;" or in never allows vent to passionate utterance; the Greek – εν θεω Κυρειω Χειστω (sic). the word "dolens" is the strongest expression of sorrow, and this but rarely occurring. As the colder formalities of the classic lapidary style were gradually laid aisde, ecstatic ejaculations of prayer and hope were admitted" Vivas in Deo," most ancient in such use; "Vive in æterno; "Pax spiritu tuo;' "In pace Domini dormias," frequently introduced before the period of Constantine's conversion, but later falling into disuse; "In pace continuing to be the established Christian formula though also found in the epitaphs of Jews; while the "Vixit in pace," very rare in Roman inscriptions, appears commonly among those of Africa and of several French cities, otherwise, that distinctive phrase of the pagan epitaph, "Vixit" (as if even in the records of the grave to present life rather than death to the mental eye), does not pertain to Christian terminology. Various usages of the primitive Church, important to her history, are attested by these epigraphs as the classification of the clergy into bishops, priests, deacons, acolytes, exorcists; and the recognition of another revered class, the pious widows, "matrona

Again, alike distinctly expressed in other formulas, at the epitaph's close, as " in pace et in " with the monogram XP, implying the obvious sequel, "Christo;" also in the rudely traced line with which one inscription finishes: Nutricatus Deo Cristo marturibus;' in one curious example of the Latin language's decline: "Regina vibas in Domino zesu;" and in the Greek xvs, sometimes at the beginning, evidently intended as dedication in the name of God. Alike clearly, though less frequently, enounced is the worship of a Divine Spirit, as an aspect, or in more strict theologic phrase, Person of the Deity, e. g., "in pace cum spiritu sancta" (sic) "vibas in Spiritu sanc." And indeed no moral truth could be more convincingly established by monumental proof than the unanimous belief with which the Church, at this first and purest phase in her history, directed adoring regards to the "Logos," the perfect Image of the Father, as true and essential Deity.


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Below the surface of the Roman Campagna, it is supposed that from 800 to 900 miles of excavated corridors, interspersed

with chambers in various forms, extend their | late as between 418-22, passing some time marvellous ramifications; and between six in a similar retreat, to withdraw from the and seven millions is the assumed number of faction that supported his rival Eulalius; the Christian dead here deposited during considering which facts, we cannot deny primitive ages. In much the greater part it that the evidence as to the occasional habiis certain that these hypogees were formed tation of catacombs is too conclusive to be for Christian worship, instruction, and inter- set aside without rejecting much that claims ment, before the period of the first convert- belief in " Acts of Martyrs," and other reed emperor: but it is also indisputably ceived authorities. Of St. Urban we read proved that they continued in use for devo- ("Acts of St. Cecilia "), "latebat in sacrotional purposes, and received many pictorial rum martyrum monimentis;" of St. Hippodecorations, long afterwards; likewise that lytus ("Acts of St. Stephen," A. p. 259), works of excavating were in progress "vitam solitariam agebat in cryptis." Batill so late as the beginning of the fifth cen- ronius states that the same Pope Urban tury. The idea that they ever served for "used to celebrate masses and hold councils the habitation of numbers, during persecu- in the crypts of the martyrs;" and an epition, is erroneous, assuming indeed what is taph to St. Alexander, in the Callixtan materially impossible, owing to the forma- Catacombs, contains the sentence, "O terntion of their far-stretching labyrinths, small pora infausta, quibus inter sacra et vota ne chapels, and story above story of narrow in cavernis quidem salvari possumus!" In passages. We read, it is true, of the mar- one terrific persecution a multitude of the tyrdom of saintly bishops while in the very faithful suffered death in catacombs on the act of officiating at their humble altars; Salarian Way, by order of the Emperor of several among the earliest Roman pontiffs, Numerianus; sand and stones being heaped who, during extreme peril, took refuge in up against the entrance, so as to leave bursuch retreats- as did Alexander I. (A.D. ied alive those victims, of whose fate was 109-19), Stephen I. (253-7), and Sixtus II., found affecting proof long afterwards, not who was put to death in one of these sub- only in the bones of the dead, but in several terranean sanctuaries (A.D. 258); and Pope silver cruets that had served for the euchaCajus (283-96) is said to have actually ristic celebration. An impressive circumlived for eight years in catacombs, from stance accompanied the martyrdom of Pope which he only came out to suffer martyr- Stephen: the ministers of death rushed dom (296). With Mr. Northcote (whose into the subterranean chapel, where they work is a vade mecum for this range of an- found him officiating, and, as if struck with tiquities) we may conclude that not the sudden awe, waited till the rite was over multitude of the faithful, but the pontiffs before they slew him in his episcopal chair. alone, or others especially sought after by As catacomb sepulchres became gradually myrmidons of power, were at any time resi- filled, those sections or corridors no longer dent for long periods in these retreats, in serviceable used to be blocked up with no part of which do we see anything like soil, in order thus both to separate the livpreparation for dwelling, or for any other ing from the dead, and to avoid the necespurposes save worship and interment; sity of leaving accumulations outside. Granthough indeed an epitaph by St. Damasus, ular tufa, which, with lithoid tufa and pozin the Callixtan Catacombs, implies the fact zolana, forms the material of the volcanic that at some period those cemeteries were strata around Rome, is the substance (easily inhabited: -worked, but quite unsuitable for building) in which all Roman catacombs are exca


"Hic habitasse prius sanctos cognoscere vated, except those of St. Pontianus, outdebes." side the Porta Portese, and of St. Valentine, on the Flaminian Way, which are in a soil of marine and fluvial deposits, shells, fossils, &c.

But that saint (elected to the papacy 366) cannot be cited as a contemporary witness to ages of persecution; at periods subsequent to which, however, we read of Pope Liberius taking refuge (352), in the cemetery called after St. Agnes, from the outrages and insolence of the then ascendant Arian sect; of Pope Boniface I., so

Father Marchi, who makes this conjecture, considers it to fall short of, rather than exceed, the truth.

From the ninth century till a comparatively late period most of these catacombs were left unexplored, perhaps entirely inaccessible, and forgotten. Mediæval writers usually ignored their existence. That strange compilation, so curious in its fantastic suggestions and blindness to historic fact, the "Mirabilia Urbis Roma" (written, some critics assume, in the tenth, others in the

twelfth century; first published about
1471), enumerates, indeed, twenty-one cata-
combs. Flavio Biondo, writing in the fif-
teenth century, mentions those of St. Cal-
lixtus alone; Onofrio Panvinio, in the six- The practice of frequenting these ceme-
teenth century, reckons thirty-nine; Baro- teries for prayer, or for visiting the tombs
nius, at date not much later, raises the num- of martyrs, continued common till the ninth,
ber to forty-three. Those of St. Priscilla, nor had entirely ceased even in the thir-
entered below the Salarian Way, belonging teenth century, being certainly more or less
to that mother of the Christian Senator Pu- in prevalence under Honorius III. (1217-
dens, who received St. Peter; also those of 27). Yet the process of transporting the
SS. Nereus and Achilleus, near the Appian bodies of martyrs from these resting-places
Way, have been referred to an antiquity to the city, for safer and more honoured
correspondent with the apostolic age; and interment, had begun under Pope Paul I.
if those called after St. Callixtus were (757-67), who took such precaution against
indeed formed long anterior to that Pope's the pious frauds practised by the Longo-
election, A.D. 210, we may place them second bards, whilst investing Rome, led by Astol-
in chronologic order. That several continued phus, a king particularly bent upon relic-
in use as cemeteries long after the first impe- stealing: so devout in this respect were the
rial conversion, is evident from the fact that fierce invaders of papal territory. At later
Constantine's daughter ordered the embel- mediaval periods the Catacombs fell into
lishment and enlargement of those called af- oblivion, till their ingresses became, for the
ter St. Agnes, which became in consequence most part, unknown even to the clergy; and
more than ever frequented so to say, fash- one of the earliest records of their being
ionable as a place of interment during the visited in later ages is found in the names of
fourth century: a circumstance manifest in Raynuzio Farnese (father of Paul III.) and
the superior regularity and spaciousness of the companions who descended with him, still
corridors; in the more laboured execution, read, beside the date 1490, in the Callixtan
but inferior style, of paintings seen in those Catacombs. Not till late in the next cen-
catacombs. Other facts relevant to the tury was the attention of savans directed by
story of later vicissitudes may be cited: new lights from science, and through the
Pope Damasus (v. Baronius, anno 384) or- revived study of antiquity, towards this
dered a platonia (pavement of inlaid mar- field of research; subsequently to which
bles) for that part of the Callixtan Cata- movement, excavations were carried on at
combs in which for a certain time had lain intervals from 1592 to 1693; the most im-
the bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul. Pope portant and fruitful in results being the
John III. (560-78), who abode for a time labours of the indefatigable Bosio, who,
(v. Anastasius) in the Catacombs of SS. after patient toils, pursued enthusiastically
Tiburtius and Valerian, ordered all such hy- for thirty-three years, died (1600) without
pogees as had suffered from barbarian spol- completing the work projected for trans-
iation to be repaired; also provided that a mitting their profits to posterity. Its first
regular supply of bread, wine, and lights publication was in 1632, under the title,
should be furnished from the Lateran Basil-"Roma Sotterranea," compiled from Bosio's
ica for the celebration still kept up on MSS. by Severano (an Oratorian priest);
Sundays at the altars of these subterraneans. and a few years subsequently another Ora-
Towards the end of the sixth century, torian, Arringhi, brought out, with additions,
St. Gregory the Great indicated, among the same work translated into Latin. Next
places of assemblage for the faithful on the followed (1702) the "inscriptiones An-
days of the Lenten "Stations," organized tiquæ" of Fabretti, official custode to the
by him with much solemnity and concourse, Catacombs; and the learned work, "Cimi-
some of the cemeteries as well as principal teri dei Santi Martiri" (1720), by Boldetti,
churches of Rome. The evidences of art the fruit of thirty years' labours, surpassed
may be here cited, to prove comparative all hitherto contributions on this subject
modernness in decorative details: the nim- alike in vivacity of description, extensive
ibus, for instance, around the heads of saintly knowledge, and well-sustained argument.
figures, indicates date subsequent to the Only next in merit and authority is the
fourth century; and in the Callixtan Cata-"Sculture e Pitture Sacre" ("Sacred
combs the figure of St Cecilia, attired in Sculptures and Paintings from the Ceme-
cumbrous finery, jewelled head-dress, and teries of Rome "), by Bottari (1737-54),
necklace, as also those of SS. Urban and an illustrated work evincing thorough ac-
Cornelius, besides a sternly expressive head quaintance with its theme. The "Manners

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of the Saviour, with marked characteristics
of the Byzantine school, suggest origin
certainly not earlier than the sixth or sev-
enth, if not so late as the eight century.

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of SS. Peter and Paul side by side, usually as busts, and with not the slightest indication of superiority in one over the other apostle, rather, indeed, a perfect parity in honours and deserts, as implied in the single crown suspended, in some instances, over the heads of both; or in their simultaneous crowning by the Saviour, whose figure is hovering above the pair alike thus honoured at the Divine Master's hand. Between these two apostles is often placed the Virgin, or some other female saint, especially Agnes, admitted to like honour; and in certain examples, either Mary or another female, in attitude of prayer, appears on a larger scale than the apostles: such naïve. treatment being intended to convey the idea of relative, not, of course, absolute honour, and very probably (as indeed is Garrucci's inference), expressing the still loftier ideal of the Church, personified in the prayerful Mother as the great earthly intercessor, supported by the chief witnesses to divine doctrine. It may be assumed that the origin

of the Primitive Christians," by the Dominican Mamachi, one of the most valuable archæologic publications from the Roman press (1752), comprises, though not dedicated to this particular range, a general review of catacomb-monuments, together with others that throw light on the usages or ideas of the early Church. Interesting, though incomplete, is the contribution of the Jesuit father, Marchi, "Architettura della Roma Sotterranea Christiana," or "Monuments of Primitive Christian Art in the Metropolis of Christianity" (1844), which the writer only lived to carry to the close of one volume, exclusively dedicated to the constructive and topographic aspects of his subject this publication having been suspended, long before his death, owing to the defection of subscribers after that year '48, so fatal to the interests of his religious order. The merit of his argument, in throwing light on its theme, is, that it entirely sets at rest the question of supposed connection between the Christian Catacombs and pagan arenaria; and establishes that in art of that supreme dignity assigned to in no one instance were the former a mere the Virgin Mother (a source of such anticontinuance or enlargement of the latter, evangelic superstition in practice), may be as neither could the quality of soil in which referred simply to this tendency of idealizthese cemeteries were opened have served ing, not so much her person, as her position for building, nor their plan and dimensions amidst the hierarchic grouping, thus to have permitted the extracting of material personify the intercessory office, the link for such purposes. One could not, indeed, formed by prayer between simple-minded desire clearer refutation of the theory re- faith and theologic infallibility. Mary also specting the identity of the two formations appears on other tazze, standing between than that which meets the eye in the St. two trees, or between two columns, on Agnes Catacombs, - ascending in which which are perching birds, symbols of the from the lower story, that originally formed beatified spirit, or of the resurrection; and for Christian purposes, we enter the pagan in one instance only do we see the nimbus arenaria above those corridors sacred to the round her head-proof that this represendead, this higher part being totally distinct tation at least must be of comparatively late in plan and in the dimensions of winding origin. Among other uncommon subjects, passages, as requisite for extracting the fine we see Daniel giving a cake to the dragon, pozzolana sand. from the book, "Bel and the Dragon," considered by Protestants apocryphal (found also among reliefs on Christian sarcophagi); and striking evidence to the influence from that pagan art still overshadowing the new faith in its attempts at similar modes of expression - Daedalus and Minerva superintending groups of labourers at differ

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Another valuable illustration to the same range of sacred antiquities is the work by Padre Garrucci,“ Vetri Ornati” ("Glasses adorned with Figures in Gold, from the Cemeteries of the Primitive Christians "), with engravings of 318 tazze, all presenting groups or heads. gilt by a peculiar process on glass. As to the use of these, Garrucci differs from Buonarotti and others, who assume all such vessels to have served for sacramental purposes; his view referring many of them to remoter periods to the second and third, instead of exclusively to the fourth century, as was the conclusion of previous writers. Among the figured designs on these glasses are several of great significance; and of their subjects one of the most frequently repeated is the group

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The nimbus was originally given, in Christian art, to sovereigns and allegoric personages generally, as the symbol of power, distinction; but with this difference, that round the heads of saintly and orthodox kings or emperors, it is luminous or gilded; round those of Gentile potentates, coloured red, green, or blue. About the middle of the third century it begins to appear, and earliest on these glasses, to the heads of angels, to the evangelists, to the as the special attribute of Christ; later being given other apostles; and finally, to the Blessed Virgin and all saints, but not as their invariable attribute till the seventh century (v. Buonarotti, "Vasi Antichi").

ent tasks; Cupid and Pysche (no doubt "In the hidden chambers of the dead, admitted in appreciation of the profound Our guiding lamp with fire immortal fed.” meanings that illumine that beautiful fable); Achilles and the Three Graces, here intro- We may, perhaps, descend into these duced with some sense not so intelligible. abysses from some lonely spot, whence This choice of a comparatively gay and the Vatican cupola is distinctly visible; mundane class of subjects seems to confirm and certainly nothing could be more gloriwhat is conjectured by Garrucci, as to cer- ous, from the Roman Catholic point of tain among these tazze being appropriated view, than the confronting of such a monunot to the sacramental solemnity, but to va- ment to triumphant religion, with the dark rious occasions in domestic life, the nup- and rudely adorned subterraneans once tials, the name-giving, the baptism, and serving as sanctuaries of the Church subfuneral, besides the Agape, that primitive sequently raised, at this same centre, to blending of the fraternal feast with the eu- such proud supremacy. Another thought charistic rite and communion, so frequently that may spring from this range of antirepresented in catacomb paintings, that quarian study, and invest its objects with show the symbolic viands, the lamp, or the still deeper interest, is that of promise for fish, and loaves marked with a cross, spread something higher than either Catholicism or before companies of the faithful, seated Protestantism, in the Christianity of the round a sigma (semicircular table). future.

As to the literature illustrative of Rome's Catacombs, the last and most precious addition -a yet incipient work, which may be expected in its completeness to supply the fullest investigation of its subject is De Rossi's "Subterranean and Christian Rome," executed with all the ability and erudition to be looked for in a writer of such eminence. We find here the fullest history of researches carried out in catacombs from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century; the learned author assigning four epochs to the story of these cemeteries, commencing from apostolic times, and successively extending over the third century, over the period of the newly-attained freedom and peace guaranteed to the Church through Constantine (A.D. 312), and over the fifth century, whence dates the gradual abandonment and decay of all such sanctuaries, owing to their then condition, impaired by shocks of barbarian invasion, devastated by Goths and Lombards, till at last, towards the close of the ninth century, they fell into neglect or oblivion.

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As to the primitive mode of interment, the early Church may be said to have taken as model the Redeemer's sepulchre - a cavern, with entrance closed by a stone, in which but One Body lay; and in the especially honoured tombs of martyrs, or other illustrious dead, the form called arcosolium, like an excavated sarcophagus with arched niche above, supplied the norma for the later adopted altar of solid stone (instead of the plain wooden table in earliest use), with relics inserted in a cavity under the mensa; the practice of consecrating the Eucharist over such martyr-tombs having passed into the universal discipline of the Latin Church, through a decree of Pope Felix (269--75,) ordering that henceforth the mass should ever be celebrated over such burial-places of the holy dead:


"Altar quietem debitam Præstat beatis ossibus,"

as Prudentius testifies to this ancient usage. From the same poet ("Hymn on St. Hippolytus") we learn that these subterraneans The first impression on descending into were not originally, as now, in total darkcatacombs, when the light of day is sud- ness, but lighted, however dimly, by those denly lost, and the eye follows the dim per- shafts (luminaria) still seen at intervals spective of corridors lined with tier above piercing the soil above our heads, though tier of funereal niches, partially shown by no longer in every instance serving for such torchlight, is one that chills and repels. purpose. The circumstances under which Imagination calls up what reason rejects, they have been rediscovered within modern and sports, as if fascinated, with ideas of times, form a singular detail in their vicisdanger-mysterious, indefinable correct-situdes; and it is remarkable that the period ed, indeed, by the higher associations and of greatest religious conflict among Chrisreminiscences that take possession of the tian nations was that which witnessed the mind in any degree acquainted with that revival of this long-forgotten testimony, past so replete with noble examples from conveyed in monumental language, to the the story of those who here, faith and practice of the primitive Church.

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