Novaziano Catacomb Rome
Address, opening hours and description
Address Catacombe di Noviziano: Viale Regina, 303 – Rome. Phone: +39 06 735824. Opening hours and admission: Write to the Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra.
History and description
Unlike most other catacombs in Rome it is very easy to date Novaziano‘s catacombs. Finds of several inscriptions and numerous coins seem to indicate that they stem from the middle of the 3rd century.
The catacomb gets its name from a 4th century inscription, which was however not found until the year 1932: Novatiano beatissimo marturi Gaudentius diaconus fecit. The inscription was discovered in a niche with an a mensa tomb. The niche was painted red, framed by a mosaic and adorned with two pillars. (An a mensa tomb was made by digging a niche into the wall and covering it with an arch called arcosolium.)
The Catacomb was enlarged in the 4th century by digging a level above the mausoleum, only to be completely forgotten and abandoned in the next century.
It is not certain which one of several martyrs called Novatianus is the Novatianus buried in these catacombs. One theory claims it is the anti-Pope Novatianus from the year 251, whereas others think it may have been was a young Roman martyr persecuted by Emperor Diocletian. The first theory seems plausible because of the complete silence regarding the catacomb.
The newer, upper part was discovered in 1926. Of this part not much remains, however. Plunder and also the construction of houses on top of the catacombs means that they were mostly destroyed
In 1929 the older and better preserved part of Novaziano‘s catacombs was discovered. Apart from the cell containing the martyr’s tomb a number of other interesting graves were found.
One of these is the cell containing the remains of a wealthy Roman family, the Domizio Mariniano‘s. Their cell contains 4 sarcophagi decorated with Biblical scenes.
The tomb of Antistia Euphanilla is interesting, since, through a crack in the tomb, the perfectly kept remains of this woman were visible.
The original staircase leading to the Catacomb has become unusable, since it was covered with the pavement on the corner of the Viale Regina Elena and the Via Tiburtina. The present entrance to the Catacomb of Novaziano is therefore of more modern construction.