One of the most exciting things we did in Rome (for me, at least!) was visit the Catacombs of Priscilla.
Visiting catacombs is always going to be a bit demanding; going underground is scary bigtime – all that earth pressing down on me is not an easy thing to bear. We visited catacombs in Malta some years ago and when I asked Beloved Other why nobody else was having the panic I was having his typically robust response was “because nobody else is as stupid as you – they’ve stayed up this long, why wold they come down now”; I repeat this to myself every time I have to go underground. Not entirely convinced I can yet believe it with my body, but my mind can trust it, and so I get there. Anyway, down we went, and it was wonderful.
And the thing that really touched me were these frescoes. These are in one of the grave chambers. If you look closely, there is a woman in the middle of the back wall (assumed to be Priscilla) standing with her hands raised in prayer. And in the circle at the top is the Good Shepherd, with a lamb on his shoulders.
There were others too, but I can’t get copies of those.
But the thing that has moved me most about these is that they were painted by real people, exploring and expressing their faith; people like me, trying like me to make sense of life and faith and all the rest of it.
I know that’s kind of obvious – but somehow it has struck me anew standing in front of these frescoes. To be part of such a long community of tradition, quesiton and worship is wonderful. And there is something in these amazing paintings that made that feel very close.
I’m so glad I have seen them.