Friday, July 8, 2011

Catacombs “The Secret Church” ~ Exploration In Rome

Oh, I can't wait to share with you today...

It is several feet below the Roman road of today. It’s nestled along the cobblestone road of the Appian Way and located just outside Rome. My anticipation bubbles over as we enter the Christian Catacombs of St. Sebastian.

It’s as if moments twinkling in time could be re-captured and re-experienced. As we embark down the winding stair-case which leads to the musty smelling tunnels, I brush my hands over cold memories carved in limestone from centuries past. Somehow, my imagination picks up where 4th century A.D. left off.

My excitement fizzes over as 10 of us walk in single file line through the candle lit tunnels. Did I mention there are hundreds and hundreds of passageways where Christians buried their dead along the red clay walls? They wrapped their dead, tucked them into carefully carved openings, and placed limestone slabs over them (to cover the smell).

There is something beautiful lying beneath the cracked surface. Something magnificent hidden in imperfections which beg the eye to look harder, deeper into history. Patterns of Jesus as the Good Shepherd scratched across  colored marble. Designs of the Ichthys etched in time. Greek symbols crying out for Jesus’ return. The distinctness of each hand carved portrait builds my faith as childhood Bible stories flood my mind and saturate my heart.

Painting of Daniel in the Lion Den

As we feel our way through dark tunnels and dusty floors, I imagine myself as one of the Christians escaping the Roman law of that time. Joining hands with fellow believers whose desire to flee the city of walls of persecution leads them to this place. It’s a place where God’s girls (and boys) can quench their thirst for worship without being noticed or discovered. It’s a thirst that can only be subdued until the next gathering.

These tunnels provide a portal to archaic moments which bridge the gap between the old and the new. Places once concealed from idol-worshipping law, now revealed under the light of today.

As we remerge from the basement-like tunnels below, it takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the bright sprays of sunlight bursting behind the clouds. Discovering secret Christian meetings squeezed between pillars of persecution and tunnels of family members and friends buried centuries ago will never be forgotten.

Can you tell this was my favorite part of our trip!?

Have a great weekend!



  1. Girl, I feel your excitement! Thank you for sharing. I have loved hearing about your trip.

  2. This reminds me of reading the book Radical when David talked about the underground churches in Asia. The people who meet there are willing to risk everything, like the early Christians who met in the tunnels you walked through. What do we risk for Jesus? Definitely something to think about. Love reading your stories!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!! What a life changing experience to walk where those early believers did...I'm not a historian by no means, but could some of the ones who walked those halls actually have met Jesus? Or is the timeline way off for that? Either!

  4. Over the 4th I was thinking about our freedom as a country which led to me dwelling on our freedom as Christians... we are so blessed to worship and love Jesus freely, yet we sometimes act chained when it comes to sharing His word. Love your pictures and surely the Lord is so pleased with the thrill and excitement He witnessed in you!

  5. What an amazing trip this was for you Kelli... I've really enjoyed reading these passionate posts of yours and seeing the photos you've brought back. Being able to touch and experience that history is such a Blessing!

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Have a Blessed Weekend!!

  6. Love the stories you have brought back to share with us. The pictures have been awesome. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

    Blessings to you.

  7. How interesting! I never knew any of that, and to experience it close up, to run your hand across amazing. I'm so happy that you have these memories now which will only prove to strengthen both your knowledge AND your faith. Blessings to you :)