illuminate the dark

Origins of the catacombs. The catacombs originated in Rome between the end of the second and the beginning of the third centuries A.D., under the papacy of Pope Zephyrin (199-217), who entrusted to the deacon Callixtus, who would later become pope (217-222), the task of supervising the cemetery of the Appian Way, where the most important pontiffs of the third century would be buried. The custom of burying the dead in underground areas was already known to the Etruscans, the Jews and the Romans, but with Christianity much more complex and larger burial hypogea originated in order to welcome the whole community in only one necropolis. The ancient term to designate these monuments is coemeterium, which derives from the Greek and means “dormitory”, thereby stressing the fact that for Christians, burial is just a temporary moment while they wait for the final resurrection. In antiquity, the term catacomb, extended to all the Christian cemeteries, only defined the complex of St. Sebastian on the Appian Way.