Catacombs of San Gaudioso

Behind the presbytery of the chiesa di Santa Maria alla Sanità, after the gate, stand the mystic catacomb of San Gaudioso, bishop of Abitina during the 5th century.

Worshipped by the citizens for the foundation of a monastery, it was hosted inside this cemeterial chapel only after the 9th century.

The sacred funerary place, despite the destruction of part of it for the building of the basilica, contains the memory of the saint. Yet, also a macabre atmosphere.

In fact, near some graves the skulls of dead stick out; back then, the corpses were set on seats (called cantarelle) to dry out and later bricked up.

Around the skulls the body of the dead person used to be frescoed with symbols connected to his/her social status. In front of the entry stands out the tomb of San Gaudioso, with the remains of a rich mosaic that used to decorate the chapel. Fascinating is also the 17th century statue of the dead Christ sculpt in the tuff rock.

The interior of the catacomb continues with dark tunnels and caves, enriched by many art works dating back to the 5th-6th century (frescoes and mosaics) and to the 17th century (sculptures and canvases), when the basilica was built.

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