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its walls with a degree of interest scarcely to be exceeded by any other remains of past ages. I have spent,' says Raoul Rochette, 'many entire days in this sanctuary of antiquity, where the sacred and profane stand facing each other, in the written monuments preserved to us, as in the days when Paganism and Christianity, striving with all their powers, were engaged in mortal conflict. * ***** And were it only the treasure of impressions which we receive from this immense collection of Christian epitaphs, taken from the graves of the catacombs, and now attached to the walls of the Vatican, this alone would be an inexhaustible fund of recollections and enjoyment for a whole life.'”-(Tableau des Catacombes, p. x.)–(pp. 1-9.)
This Lapidarian Gallery will, we trust, be not without its attractions to our readers, however little it may be to the taste of the butterflies from England, who flutter gay and gaudy over the graceful trophies of a fallen idolatry in Rome, and the bedizened symbols of a rampant one; equally regardless of the appalling insults to the majesty of heaven, that arise, hour by hour, from “ the eternal city ;” of the denunciations of vengeance upon those insults, which are written, “ as with a sunbeam," upon the page of inspiration; and of the penal fires that beave and smoulder beneath their feet, and wait but their appointed hour to burst the bounds of their prison, and fully to execute that vengeance.
The following extract from the introductory chapter, will also, we anticipate, be found deeply interesting.
“ The Consular Monuments, principally comprised in a compartment at the further end of the corridor, are those containing the names of the consuls who governed during the years in which they were erected. Their value as chronological data is obvious; and their authenticity is the more to be relied upon, from their rude execution and imperfect orthography, often leaving us in doubt as to the very name of the consuls intended to be expressed. It would appear that the better class of Christians, especially those of the third and fourth centuries, were more in the habit of adding dates to their epitaphs, than those of lower condition, or an earlier period.
“On the walls thus loaded with inscriptions belonging to professors of the rival religions, we may trace a contrast between the state of Pagan and that of Christian society in the ancient metropolis. The funeral lamentation, expressed in neatly-engraved hexameters, the tersely worded sentiments of stoicism, and the proud titles of Roman citizenship, attest the security and resources of the old religion. Further on, the whole heaven of Paganism is glorified by innumerable altars, where the epithets, unconquered, greatest, and best, are lavished upon the worthless shadows that peopled Olympus. Here and there are traces of complicated political orders; tablets containing the names of individuals composing a legion or cohort; legal documents relating to property, and whatever belong to a state, such as the Roman empire in its best times is known to have been. The first glance at the opposite wall is enough to show, that, as St. Paul himself expressed it, 'not many mighty, not many noble,' were numbered among those whose epitaphs are there displayed : some few indeed are scarcely to be distinguished from those of the Pagans opposite, but the greater part betray by their execution, haste and ignorance. An incoherent sentence, or a straggling mis-spelt scrawl, such as
' The place of Philemon,' inscribed upon a rough slab destined to close a niche in caverns where daylight could never penetrate, tells of a persecuted, or at least, oppressed community. There is also a simplicity in many of these slight records not without its charm; as in the annexed,
STETIT AP. N. “ Virginius remained but a short time with us.” « The slabs of stone used for closing Christian graves average from one to three feet in length. In this they differ remarkably from the sepulchral tablets of the Pagans, who, being accustomed to burn their dead, required a much smaller covering for the cinerary urn. The letters on Christian monuments are from half an inch to four inches in height, and coloured in the incision with a pigment resembling Venetian red. Whether this pigment originally belonged to all the letters, is uncertain : many are now found without it. The custom of cutting in the stone is alluded to by Prudentius in his hymn in honour of the eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa; in which he calls upon his fellow Christians to wash with pious tears, the furrows in the marble tablets erected to them.
“Nos pio fletu, date, perluamus
Marmorum sulcos-" The orthography of these epitaphs is generally faulty, the letters irregular, and the sense not always obvious. These characteristics the author has been anxious to preserve, and has therefore spared no pains in executing copies in exact fac-simile, though much reduced in size.
" Another difference between the inscriptions belonging to the Pagans and Christians of the early centuries, is too remarkable to be passed by unnoticed. While the heathen name consisted of several essential parts, all of which were necessary to distinguish its owner, the Christians in general confined themselves to that which they had received in baptism. Thus the names of Felix, Sevus, Philemon, and Agape, are found on tombs, unaccompanied by any of the other designations which belonged to those individuals as members of a Roman family. Occasionally we meet with two, and perhaps even three names on their monuments, as Aurelia Agapetilla, Largia Agape; but these are not common. The first believers, when not forced, by the multiplicity of persons christened alike, to add a further distinction, appear to have regarded their Christian name as the only one worthy of preservation on their sepulcbres.
“The merely classical student, unless in search of the vernacular language of ancient Rome, will find little in these inscriptions to repay the trouble of perusing them. A few obsolete and barbarous expressions, the gradual origin of the cursive character, and the uncertain pronunciation of some consonants, indicated by the varied modes of writing the same word, are not the most interesting points of investigation suggested by these monuments. Better purposes are served by their examination, inasmuch as they express the feelings of a body of Christians, whose leaders alone are known to us in history. The Fathers of the Church live in their voluminous works; the lower orders are only represented by these simple records, from which, with scarcely an exception, sorrow and complaint are banished; the boast of suffering, or an appeal to the revengeful passions, is nowhere to be found. One expresses faith, another hope, a third charity. The genius of primitive Christianity, 'To believe, to love, and to suffer," has never been better illustrated. These sermons in stones' are addressed to the heart, and not to the headto the feelings rather than the taste; and possess additional value from being the work of the purest and most influential portion of the catholic and apostolic Church' then in existence.
“ The student of Christian archæology must never lose sight of the distinction between the actual relics of a persecuted Church and the subsequent Jabours of a superstitious age. When Christianity, on the eessation of its troubles, emerged from those recesses, and walked boldly on the soil beneath which it had been glad to seek concealment, the humble cradle of its infancy became a principal object of veneration, almost of worship. To decorate the chapels, adorn by monuments the labyrinths of sepulchres, and pay an excessive regard to all that belonged to martyrs and martyrdom, was the constant labour of succeeding centuries. Hence arises a chronological confusion, which calls for caution in deciding upon the value of any inference that may be drawn from these sources, respecting points of doctrine. Yet it may not be amiss to premise generally, that in the inscriptions contained in the Lapidarian Gallery, selected and arranged under Papal superintendance, there are no prayers for the dead (unless the forms, ' May you live,' May God refresh you,' be so construed); no addresses to the Virgin Mary, nor to the Apostles or earlier Saints; and, with the exception of eternal sleep,' 'eternal home,' &c., no expressions contrary to the plain sense of Scripture. And if the bones of the martyrs were more honoured, and the privilege of being interred near them more valued, than the simplicity of our religion would warrant, there is, in this outbreak of enthusiastic feeling towards the heroic defenders of the faith, no precedent for the adoration paid to them by a corrupt age.
“Perhaps it may safely be asserted, that the ancient Church appears in the Lapidarian Gallery in a somewhat more favourable light than in the writings of the fathers and historians. It may be that the sepulchral tablet. is more congenial to the display of pious feeling than the controversial epistle, or even the much-needed episcopal rebuke. Besides the gentle and amiable spirit everywhere breathed, the distinctive character of these remains is essentially Christian : the name of Christ is repeated in an endless variety of forms, and the actions of His life are figured in every degree of rudeness of execution. The second Person of the Trinity is neither viewed in the Jewish light of a temporal Messiah, nor degraded to the Socinian estimate of a mere example, but is invested with all the honours of a Redeemer. On this subject there is no reserve, no heathenish suppression of the distinguishing feature of our religion : on stones innumerable appears the Good Shepherd, bearing on his shoulders the recovered sheep, by which many an illiterate believer expressed his sense of personal salvation. One, according to his epi. taph, 'sleeps in Christ; ' another is buried with a prayer that she may live in the Lord Jesus. But most of all, the cross in its simplest form is employed to testify the faith of the deceased : and whatever ignorance may have prevailed regarding the letter of Holy Writ, or the more mysterious doctrines contained in it, there seems to have been no want of apprehension of that sacrifice, ' whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the kingdom of heaven.'”—(pp. 9—15.)
The next chapter of Dr. Maitland's work is devoted to the discussion of the origin of the catacombs. This is soon explained. They are the quarries from which were taken the materials for the building of ancient Rome. They were used in the times of the republic as burial-places for criminals and others who, having died infamous deaths, were not entitled to the rite of burning on the pile. The poorer classes also (as the present author shows) who were precluded by the expence from the honours of cremation, buried their dead in the catacombs. Somewhat later, the costly ceremonial of the funeral pile went gradually into desuetude with the higher classes at Rome also: probably in consequence of the favour with which the Egyptian mythology was received by the
Romans of this period. The expression corpus integrum conditum, which frequently occurs in Roman sarcophagi and tomb-stones, renders this probable. But the sarcophagus was by no means a seemly inmate for the cenotaphs and other ornamental buildings in pleasure-grounds, where the Patricians were in the habit of depositing the cinerary urns of their ancestors. They, therefore, also began to bury in the catacombs, which at the time of the introduction of Christianity into Rome had become pretty nearly the common burial-place of the city.
The author proceeds very satisfactorily to show that the opinion entertained by some Protestant authorities that Christians and Heathens were buried in the catacombs promiscuously, is utterly untenable. He then gives a brief but interesting account of their employment by the Christians as a refuge from persecution, and of their living and worshipping there; citing an epitaph upon the body of one individual, who was detected by the persecutors in the catacombs, and led away to execution. It is as follows:
“In Christ. Alexander is not dead, but lives beyond the stars, and his body rests in this tomb. He lived under the Emperor Antonine, who, foreseeing that great benefit would result from his services, returned evil for good. For, while on his knees, and about to sacrifice to the true God, he was led away to execution. O, sad times ! in which sacred rites and prayers, even in caverns, afford no protection to us. What can be more wretched than such a life? and what than such a death? when they could not be buried by their friends and relations—at length they sparkle in heaven. He has scarcely lived, who has lived in Christian times.”—(p. 33.)
Upon this part of his subject Dr. Maitland makes the following very important remark, which we have the utmost pleasure in transcribing.
“When we reflect upon the trials which awaited the Church, and the combined powers of earth and hell which menaced its earliest years, it is impossible not to recognise the fostering care of a heavenly Hand, in thus providing a cradle for the infant community. Perhaps to the protection afforded by the catacombs, as an impregnable fortress from which persecution always failed to dislodge it, the Church in Rome owed much of the rapidity of its triumph; and to the preservation of its earliest sanctuaries, its ancient superiority in discipline and manners. The customs of the first ages, stamped indelibly on the walls of the catacombs, must have contributed to check the spirit of innovation soon observable throughout Christendom : the elements of a pure faith were written 'with an iron pen, in the rock, for ever;' and if the Church of after-times had looked back to her subterranean home, 'to the hole of the pit whence she was digged,' she would there have sought in vain for traces of forced celibacy, the invocation of saints, and the representation of deity in painting or sculpture. Whatever dates may be attributed to other remains, this fact is certain, that the Lapidarian Gallery, arranged by the hands of the modern Romanists, contains no support whatever for the dogmas of the Council of Trent. Resting upon this distinction, virtually drawn by themselves, between what belongs to a pure age, and what to the times of innovation, we may safely refer to the latter a number of inscriptions of doubtful date, preserved in the vaults of St. Peter's, which contain prayers to the Virgin Mary, and other peculiaries of Romanist theology. The history of Christendom as well as that of Art supplies the means of fixing the age of many such monuments : for instance, the time of Vigilantius, when some bishops, moved by his arguments, refused to ordain unmarried deacons, cannot be confounded with an age in which the celibacy of the clergy became compulsory: nor can we easily mistake for the work of a century that knew only the sign of the cross in its simplest form of two straight lines, the wretched representation of the passion, in a crucifix the size of life, smeared with the imitation of blood, and surmounted by a crown of actual thorns.”(pp. 24-25.)
The following delightful extract from the next chapter we lay at once before the reader without weakening the effect of it by any prefatory remarks of our own.
“ St. Paul speaks of the Christian as one not intended to sorrow as others who had no hope : how literally their sorrow was described by him, may be judged from the following Pagan inscription, copied from the right hand wall of the Lapidarian Gallery :
C. IVLIVS. MAXIMVS
ANN. II. M. V.
QVID MIHI TAM SVBITO MAXIMVS ERIPITVR
Caius Julius Maximus
2 years and 5 months.
This stone now marks his tomb-behold his mother. “ But the Christian, not content with calling his burial-ground a sleeping. place, pushes the notion of a slumber to its full extent. We find the term in a Latin dress, as—
DORMITIO ELPIDIS. 'The sleeping place, or dormitory, of Elpis.' (Fabretti, lib. 8.) “ Elsewhere it is said, that
VICTORINA DORMIT. • Victorina sleeps.' (Boldetti.)
ZOTICVS HIC AD DORMIENDVM. • Zoticus laid here to sleep.' (Boldetti.) * Of another we read
Gemella sleeps in peace.' (Lapidarian Gallery.) " And, lastly, we find the certainty of a resurrection and other sentiments