Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Catacombs of Priscilla, a new era




The catacombs of Priscilla, located along Via Salaria in Rome , have been fully reopened after a five-year restauration project.

Opening times: 8.30-12 / 14.30-17 
Address: Via Salaria, 430, 00199 Roma


* Vatican Unveils Revamped Catacombs Museum By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO


ROME — Celebrating the meeting of ancient and modern worlds, the Vatican on Tuesday presented a revamped museum of antique funerary remains in Rome, while inviting the rest of the world to peek inside that space by computer.

“The gap has closed between two extremes, remote antiquity and contemporaneity,” said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, which oversaw the new excavations and restorations of the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome. A virtual visit to the early Christian cemetery is also possible on Google maps, which adapted its street view program to go underground.

foto reuters / Max Rossi


“We had to invent new instruments, we needed a smaller camera” for Google’s first-time foray into the underbelly of Rome, said Giorgia Abeltino, head of public policy at Google. “It won’t substitute a visit to the catacombs, but it can let people get a glimpse of their beauty, and it gives access to culture and knowledge.” Virtual visitors can even sneak a peek at the so-called cubiculum of Lazarus, freshly restored using lasers that exposed a series of lively fourth-century frescoes that “had remained silent through the centuries” under a patina of dirt. The restoration revealed images “that belong to the history of Christianity,” Cardinal Ravasi said at a news conference Tuesday.

foto reuters / Max Rossi
Rome has several catacomb complexes, with those best known to the public near to the ancient Appian Way. The Catacombs of Priscilla are on the other side of town, on the Via Salaria.
Work was also carried out on the adjacent basilica of San Silvestro (a modern reconstruction of the ancient church, dating to 1907), today a museum for about 400 newly restored fragments — mostly from marble sarcophagi — found during the excavations of the Catacombs of Priscilla, which began in 1890.
Ms. Abeltino of Google said other similar, projects were in the works. “As they say in the United States, more to come,” she said.


http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/vatican-unveils-revamped-catacombs-museum/?_r=0




*Vatican Unveils Frescoes In Catacombs of Priscilla With Images Some Say Show Early Women Priests By NICOLE WINFIELD



The Vatican on Tuesday unveiled newly restored frescoes in the Catacombs of Priscilla, known for housing the earliest known image of the Madonna with Child — and frescoes said by some to show women priests in the early Christian church.

foto reuters / Max Rossi

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican's culture minister, presided over the opening of the "Cubicle of Lazzaro," a tiny burial chamber featuring 4th century images of biblical scenes, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and one of the early Romans buried there in bunk-bed-like stacks as was common in antiquity.
The labyrinthine cemetery complex stretching for kilometers (miles) underneath northern Rome is known as the "Queen of the catacombs" because it features burial chambers of popes and a tiny, delicate fresco of the Madonna nursing Jesus dating from around 230-240 A.D., the earliest known image of the Madonna and Child.


More controversially, the catacomb tour features two scenes said by proponents of the women's ordination movement to show women priests: One in the ochre-hued Greek Chapel features a group of women celebrating a banquet, said to be the banquet of the Eucharist. Another fresco in a richly decorated burial chamber features a woman, dressed in a dalmatic — a cassock-like robe — with her hands up in the position used by priests for public worship.

foto reuters / Max Rossi

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, which includes women who have been excommunicated by the Vatican for participating in purported ordination ceremonies, holds the images up as evidence that there were women priests in the early Christian church — and that therefore there should be women priests today.
But Fabrizio Bisconti, the superintendent of the Vatican's sacred archaeology commission, said such a reading of the frescoes was pure "fable, a legend." Even though the catacombs' official guide says there is "a clear reference to the banquet of the Holy Eucharist" in the fresco, Bisconti said the scene of the banquet wasn't a Eucharistic banquet but a funeral banquet. He said that even though women were present they weren't celebrating Mass.

foto reuters / Max Rossi

Bisconti said the other fresco of the woman with her hands up in prayer was just that — a woman praying.
"These are readings of the past that are a bit sensationalistic but aren't trustworthy," he said.
Asked about the scenes, Ravasi professed ignorance and referred comment to Bisconti.
The Vatican has restricted the priesthood for men, arguing that Jesus chose only men as his apostles.
The Priscilla catacombs are being featured in a novel blending of antiquity and modern-technology: For the first time, Google Maps has gone into the Roman catacombs, providing a virtual tour of the Priscilla complex available to anyone who can't visit the real thing.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/19/vatican--frescoes_n_4305560.html 




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Christiaan Santini, Rome, Italy / - Tour Designer, Tour Guide, Tour Manager / Official Tour Guide license issued by the Regional Administration of Rome (nr. 4545) / p.iva: 12307641006 / c.f.: sntcrs79e19h501o / Nationality: Italian-Dutch

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