|Largo Argentina, Rome|
Read it here Assisi's Roman Villa - Archaeology Magazine
|Largo Argentina, Rome (alternate view)|
One of my favorite places in Rome is a small excavated area at Largo Argentina, where while waiting for the bus you can look down on Roman remains. There are four Roman temples and part of Pompey's Theatre down just a few feet below contemporary ground level.
Although lower Manhattan does have underground remains, some of which were recently exposed when an 18th century ship was uncovered, one doesn't usually see them and they most definitely are not as impressive.
When walking in that cemetery (which is rather like walking through the mausoleum section of a modern cemetery) it is astonishing to think that above you are two large churches, and that the top of the two is the largest church in the world.
|Portion of the necropolis underneath St. Peter's basilica|
Rome has other churches similarly layered, among them: San Clemente, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, San Crisogono. All are built over early Christian places of note.
|Life of St. Clement|
Italian, 12th century
Rome, San Clemente
Fresco from underground portion of
All are well worth a visit. And they are eloquent reminders of the continuity and survival of the Catholic faith from the first century to the 21st. They remind us of the history that has come and gone in that time and the often hostile events the Church has endured: the Roman Empire, the Barbarian Invasions, hostile medieval kings and emperors, the Avignon years, the Great Schism, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, Fascism, Communism. As Jesus promised, the gates of hell have not prevailed, nor will they, for He is with us till the end of the world.