Thursday, October 12, 2006

Vatican Excavations

There is a story at CNN about a "newly unveiled necropolis" under the Vatican dating from the time of the Roman Empire. The site is of particular interest for the light it sheds on the Roman middle class of at the start of the Christian era.

It appears that some of the folks buried there may actually have been Christians:
A male member of ancient Rome's class of knights, who died as a teenager, was remembered in death with a sculptured figure whose hands are outstretched as if in prayer. The kind of figure, known as an "orante," was widely taken as an early symbol of Christians.
If so, they are among the very earliest followers of Our Lord, but it should be noted that, since Christians were often persecuted at this time, it is not very likely that open symbols of religious belief would have been made so public.

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