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October 7, 2016     Post-Gazette
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October 7, 2016

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PAGE 2 3 POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 7, 2016 by Prof. Edmund Turiello A weekly column highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. The hills of Rome are mainly composed of a soft rock of vol- canic origin which is called tufa. The early Romans had very ade- quately developed the technique of excavating deep into this tufa to form their caemetaria (un- derground cemeteries) which contained Columbaria (pigeon- hole niches for the cremated remains) and Loculi (shelves for the embalmed bodies). The Early Christians who came later were in quite a dilemma. They could not bury their deceased THE ROMAN CATACOMBS within the city walls because the law did not permit it, and any kind of funeral service ei- ther within or without the walls would expose them to arrest and persecution. It foUows then that the ex- cavation work for the Cata- combs was a necessary function brought about by the geology of the area, the religious beliefs, and the social attitudes of the party in power at that time. Outside the walls of ancient Rome, there were about 15 Happy Columbus Day! Enjoy celebrating our incredible culture throughout Italian-American Heritage Month HOUSE SPEAKER HAPPY State Senator from menico main roads radiating out from the city. About 25 great Cata- combs were constructed at vari- ous locations near these roads. It is estimated that the com- bined lengt=h of the tunnels in all Catacombs was 350 miles and that they contained about 6,000,000 deceased. Corridors were generally about 30 inches wide with the Loculi (shelves) in tiers on both sides. These underground cities of the .dead were built from one to five stories deep. The depth never exceeded 70 feet because this would bring them below the volcanic crust and into the hu- mid clay. The stratum chosen for these horizontal labyrinths was sufficiently hard to support the weight from above while yet soft enough to excavate these seemingly endless tunnels. The secrecy of theii~ location was maximized by taking the exca- vated material from the.newly formed tunnels and packing it into the old and fully occupied ones. The difficult chore of rais- ing the debris to the surface and undoubtedly revealing their location was thus eliminated. Stairs, air shafts, and some light shafts were built as the advantages of the terrain pre- sented themselves. The countryside around Pagan Rome was literally undermined by-these cata- combs. During the height of the Christian persecutions, the Catacombs which were not bacldilled housed as many of the living as they contained of the dead. The Catacombs of St. Callistus (Calixtus) and those of St. Sebastian on the Appian Way are probably the most frequented and the most interesting. The bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul were origi- nally buried close to the spot where they were martyred. Later they were exhumed and hidden temporarily in the Catacombs of St. Sebastian. Burial in the Catacombs was gradually given up after peace with the Church in the year 312. It then became the cus- tom to bury the dead near the churches. NEXT ISSUE: 7Yiumphal Arches PAUL J. DONATO SECOND ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER STATE HOUSE~ ROOM 481 BOSTON, MA 02133 TEL: (617) 722-2180 FAX: (617) 722-2881 REPDO NATO38@AOL.Co M 271 SPRING STREET MEDFORD~ IV[A 02155 TEL: (781) 395-1683 FAX: (781) 395-2871 Happy Columbus Day from STATE REPRESENTATIVE Sal LaMattina & Family Boston City Councilor - District 1 Happy Columbus Day STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 3 "Have a Safe and Enioyable Columbus Day Weekend" Joe STATE SENATOR