When in Rome,
do as the Romans, visit the catacombs! I used the opportunity which arose as I had a talk at the HagioScape! conference, and visited the catacombs of Calepodius and Santissimi Pietro e Marciellino. While the latter was more or less for fun (this catacomb accomodates the highest number of lavishly decorated cubicula, many of them can be seen during the guided tour), a dream has come true with the visit of Calepodius. My ‘dissertation hero’, bishop Callixtus was buried there, thus visiting his tomb was a sort of moral obligation.
But jokes aside, the Calepodius catacomb is although in many respects an insignificant complex, it tells a great deal about Christianity in Rome in a period when sources are rather rare. In addition, existing scholarship tend to harmonize archeological finds and literary evidence (mainly Passio Callixti) – in my opinion – rather less than more successfully. Thus it was truly essential to see and explore the burial chamber of Callixtus (more precisely its remains), its location, dimensions and its surroundings in order to gain better understanding of the actual situation and developments described in several papers and documented with poor b/w photographs. I not only learned a lot, but this visit is the beginning of a beautiful
Update: At that point I did not know that my paper about the development of the tomb will just be published a couple of months later. A coincidence?