Catacombs of Santi Marcellino e Pietro and Mausoleum of St. Helena


Via Casilina, 641

catacombe pietro e marcellino_2
Saturday and Sunday 9:00-16:00. Max. 20 visitors. Monday-Friday only by reservation.
Admission fee.

The Catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter can be found along the Via Casilina and, covering an area of 18,000 square meters, these are one the largest and most representative catacombs of Christian Rome. It has been estimated that in the third century alone approximately 15,000 people, including victims of the persecutions of Diocletian, Marcellino and Pietro, were buried in this area. Priest and exorcist respectively, they had been beheaded in the thick of a forest and their bodies had been brought here by a pious Roman matron. Among the frescoes, a “big collection of paintings” of figurative catacomb art from its origins at the beginning of the fifth century, we note the Cubicolo delle stagioni (Cubicle of the seasons): the centre of the vault shows the Good Shepherd among worshipers and scenes inspired by the cycle of Jonah; on the walls there are the biblical scenes of the multiplication of the loaves, Job, the miracle of the well and Noah in the ark.

Foto Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra

Listener (8)
Every day 07:00-12.00 and 16:00-19.00. Free entry.

Before coming into the possession of Helena, mother of Constantine, this area was used as a necropolis for the personal guard of the emperor, the Equites singulares; later the catacombs were built for Saints Peter and Marcellinus, priest and exorcist respectively, who had been martyred under Emperor Diocletian. Here, around 320 AD, Constantine built a basilica dedicated to the same Saints and the funeral monument of the imperial family. In the seventeenth century, in the Mausoleum by now in ruins, a small church to them was built using part of the remains of the ancient basilica, which was transformed in the following century and completed in its present form in 1922.

Foto Parrocchia Santi Marcellino e Pietro

Visible from the outside from the park of Villa de Sanctis: October – February 7:00-18:00, March and September 7:00-20:00, April – August 7:00-21:00. The entrance to the park is free.

The mausoleum is located in the area called “ad duas lauros” (at the two laurels), along the Via Casilina, corresponding to the third mile of the ancient Via Labicana, on land owned by the family of Helena, mother of Constantine. Here, around 320 AD, Constantine built a basilica dedicated to the first saints Marcellinus and Peter, buried in the nearby catacombs, and the funeral monument of the imperial family, later used for the burial of his mother. The octagonal building is called “the tower of pots” because of the amphorae (hollow) inserted into the wall of the vault to lighten the weight of the dome and avoid its possible collapse. The rotunda, after the transfer of the relics of the saint to the church of Aracoeli in the Capitol in the twelfth century, fell into disrepair and was reused as a fortress and residence.

How to get the step: Catacombs of Santi Marcellino e Pietro and Mausoleum of St. Helena

Via Casilina, 641, 00177 Roma, Italy


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