Editorial Photocolor Archives

This very large burial chamber is in the Via Labicana catacombs named for Saint Marcellinus and Saint Peter, two martyrs who suffered during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian at the end of the third century A.D. The room is almost twice as high as the galleries that lead to it, with six and sometimes more tiers of graves in the front part of the room, and additional graves and arcosolia (burial niches or loculi with arches) in the back. The sarcophagus in the center of the picture is unique; it was cut from bed rock at the same time that the room was carved. At each corner of the sarcophagus a column of rock was left to help support the ceiling, thus creating the effect of a canopy or baldacchino.