Rome: The fourth-century Catacombs of Commodilla in the Garbatella area of Rome will soon reopen to the public after their frescoes were restored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology.
Thought to be named after the Roman matron who donated the site, the catacombs can be found under the Parco di Villa Giovannipoli, along Via delle Sette Chiese on what was the ancient Via Ostiensis.
The underground complex, once a pozzolana quarry, is spread out over three levels.
The site contains the crypt with the tombs of the martyrs Felix and Adautto, two priest brothers believed to have been killed during the Christian persecution under Emperor Diocletian, about the year 303.
In the underground church there are frescoes of Christ handing over the keys to St Peter, flanked by St Adautto and St Merita, alongside a depiction of St Paul, St Felix and St Stephen Orante.
There is also a curious graffito inscription dating from the first half of the ninth century – Non dicere ille secrita a bboce – a hybrid of Latin and vernacular Italian that translates as “don’t say the secrets out loud”.
A peculiarity of the Catacombs of Commodilla, which distinguishes them from other Roman catacombs, is the presence of deep square pits with up to 20 loculi arranged in the walls and superimposed on each other, probably due to high demand and lack of space.
An inauguration ceremony was held on 23 June to mark the restoration of the frescoes, attended by the head of the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, and the president of the local city council, Amedeo Ciaccheri.
“A mirror city that sleeps beneath us can be visited again and is an exception that only Rome can offer” – said Ciaccheri – “It is an important step in view of the 2025 Jubilee to return a hidden treasure to the city and to the world”.