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Publisher Description

How marvelous that beneath the remains of a proud pagan civilization exist the early monuments of that power before which the myths of paganism faded away as the spectres of darkness before the rising sun, and by which the religion and institutions of Rome were entirely changed. Beneath the ruined palaces and temples, the crumbling tombs and dismantled villas, of the august mistress of the world, we find the most interesting relics of early Christianity on the face of the earth. In traversing these tangled labyrinths we are brought face to face with the primitive ages; we are present at the worship of the infant Church; we observe its rites; we study its institutions; we witness the deep emotions of the first believers as they commit their dead, often their martyred dead, to their last long resting-place; we decipher the touching record of their sorrow, of the holy hopes by which they were sustained, of “their faith triumphant o’er their fears,” and of their assurance of the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. We read in the testimony of the Catacombs the confession of faith of the early Christians, sometimes accompanied by the records of their persecution, the symbols of their martyrdom, and even the very instruments of their torture. For in these halls of silence and gloom slumbers the dust of many of the martyrs and confessors, who sealed their testimony with their blood during the sanguinary ages of persecution; of many of the early bishops and pastors of the Church, who shepherded the flock of Christ amid the dangers of those troublous times; of many who heard the words of life from teachers who lived in or near the apostolic age, perhaps from the lips of the apostles themselves. Indeed, if we would accept ancient tradition, we would even believe that the bodies of St. Peter and St. Paul were laid to rest in those hallowed crypts—a true terra sancta, inferior in sacred interest only to that rock-hewn sepulchre consecrated evermore by the body of Our Lord. These reflections will lend to the study of the Catacombs an interest of the highest and intensest character...

15 February
Didactic Press
Joshua D. Cureton