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Beneath this Very Ground

Excerpt from A Child’s Geography: Explore the Classical World

After a peaceful night sleeping in a quiet convent run by Catholic nuns, we will check out some final sites on our way out of town. Just outside the ancient city walls on the south side of Rome are several Christian catacombs, huge aqueduct ruins and the famous Appian Way. While not as glamorous as the Colosseum or Palatine Hill, the catacombs give an insightful look into the lives of early Christians during the Roman Empire. No one was allowed to be buried within the city walls of Rome, so the Christians, who didn’t believe in cremation, dug huge underground crypts with multiple stories, long passageways and bunk-style graves carved out of the rock. These subterranean vaults tell the tragic stories of persecuted Christians, young and old, wealthy and poor, famous and obscure.

Many believers in Jesus Christ were martyred for their faith during the 1st through 3rd centuries, including a number of popes. Centuries later, the Ottoman Turks raided most of these tombs looking for buried treasure. However, the only treasures found here are the stories of brave men and women, and even young children, who lived and died for their Lord during a time of great religious upheaval.

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