The Catacombs

Some of the earliest known examples of Christian art portraying biblical figures are actually underground. In miles of tunnels outside the walls of Rome, images carved and painted during the early centuries of Christianity mark the burial chambers of Christians. Images still visible in the catacombs include a shepherd, loaves and fish, and grapevines, all connected to imagery from Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament: “I am the good shepherd,” “I am the bread of life,” and “I am the true vine.” Old Testament narratives represented include Noah's ark, the sacrifice of Isaac, and the life of Jonah. Visitors to Rome would do well to see both the magnificent artwork in cathedrals above ground and biblical imagery captured in the underground art of the catacombs.


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