Dispatch #13 from Sr. Bobbi
Early last Saturday, we went to the catacombs and what an awesome site. It is a huge underground area. There is a distinction between pagans and Christians. As well there are symbols indicating a martyr or pope. There were burial room with families over generations. And rooms of Martyrs where the Christians held Mass when forced underground during the early persecutions after Christ.
The catacombs lasted about 3 centuries and were unnecessary once Christianity became the state religion and churches were free and people could be buried in them and cemeteries were above ground.
Churches in Rome were built over the tomb of the saint, around a relic or on the site of the person’s house church. Emperors that favored a particular saint might be buried in the church along with all kinds of bishops or cardinals or other important officials.
Bascilicas were government buildings originally. They were places where public officials had offices and people went to transact the business. The side altars were the offices for tax collection, purchasing permits and legal advice, while the main official worked at what is the main altar to meet the people. Later these became churches and the side offices became altars to represent a saint or a depiction of an event of importance in scripture.
Tonight we walked around the Piazza surrounding San Paulo where we are staying. There is a cafe, a park with kids playing soccer, many people sitting and talking, runners and a family picnic. The neighborhood MacDonalds is busy and has a patio roof that overlooks the neighborhood. Every neighborhood has Big Mac as well as multiple cafes and restaurants. It is qute amazing how many small places there are. Everything is made fresh. Bread is delivered early every morning along with produce. A lot of deliveries are after 11 PM when traffic isn’t as heavy.