Christian Archaeology in Aquileia

Long-time readers of rc will remember Veronica Scarisbrick as the very capable Vatican Radio host who regularly interviewed Father Foster back in the day … while we really miss the latter, it’s nice to see that VS is still keeping in touch with the ancient world:

A year ago more or less, it was Saturday 7th May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican, for a week-end visit to Aquileia and Venice.

Veronica Scarisbrick shines the spotlight on the lesser know of these cities, Aquileia. An ancient city located in north eastern Italy.

Not just because it’s a year since the Pope visited, but because on the 13th May, right until the 15th the Second Ecclesial Assembly of Aquileia is taking place there and in the nearby city of Grado.

When the Holy Father was in Aquileia last year he attended the Preparatory Assembly for this event in the Basilica there. The first Assembly was held there in 1990.

On this occasion he highlighted the pivotal role of the ancient Church of Aquileia in the evangelisation of Central Europe :
” It is appropriate that you wanted your Ecclesial Convention to take place in the Mother Church of Aquileia, from which the Churches of the North East of Italy have germinated, but also the Churches of Slovenia and Austria and some Croatian and Bavarian and even Hungarian churches. ..”
Naturally the Pope spoke too of the future of the region, of the mission of the North East where Christians have to face new challenges:
“ … Coming back to Aquileia means above all learning from the glorious Church which generated you, how to commit yourselves today, in a world which is radically changed, to a renewed evangelisation of your area, and how to hand down to future generations the precious heritage of our Christian faith.”
While there Benedict XVI also spoke of this meeting as : “ a significant return to the “roots” in order to rediscover the living “stones” of the spiritual building that has its foundation in Christ and its extension in the most eloquent witnesses of the Aquileian Church: Sts Hermagoras and Fortunatus, Hilary and Tatian, Chrysogonus, Valerian and Chromatius.
Veronica places Aquileia on the map before stepping back in time with an archaeologist who has a particular expertise in the stones of Aquileia ; specifically the body of inscriptions which witness to Aquileia’s Christian heritage.
She’s Katherine McDonnell who teaches Roman Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles in the United States.

… follow the link to listen to the programme in Real or MP3 format (Real still exists!)

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Finds from Alexandria

Brief item from Al Ahram:

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered four Greek and Byzantine-era rock tombs in a section of old Alexandria’s eastern necropolis in an area neighbouring Al-Ibrahimeya tunnel.
The site was discovered during excavations carried out by the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) and stretches between the areas of Al-Shatbi and Mostafa Kamel.

Excavations uncovered four rock-hewn Greek and Byzantine tombs containing a collection of funerary pots, perfume containers and lamps.

MSA minister Mohamed Ibrahim stated that the aim of the excavations was to inspect the area for archaeological artefacts before declaring it free for residential building.

“It is a very important discovery that adds more detail to the archaeological map of Alexandria,” Ibrahim told Ahram Online.

A finely decorated clay container from the second century BC was among the discoveries, he added.

Director general of Alexandria antiquities, Mohamed Mostafa, explained that the most important tomb is one dating from the Greco-Roman era which include an open courtyard with two rocky cylindrical columns in the middle.

Two burial shafts filled with human skeletons and clay pots were also uncovered.

A cecorated ‘Hidra’ container — a large pot filled with burned human remains — was also unearthed along with a tombstone bearing the deceased’s name.

Mostafa told Ahram Online that the tomb’s walls still bear layers of plaster and traces of red paintings.

The second tomb has eight rock-hewn steps and is located under a modern building; the third and fourth ones are found on a deeper level and house a collection of clay lamps and pots of different sizes and shapes.

Within the debris, said Mostafa, archaeologists discovered a small burial site for a woman and her son dating from the late Roman period.

Following the discovery, the area will now be declared a protected archaeological site and all construction work prohibited.

… there are a couple of interesting photos accompanying the original article

This Day in Ancient History: idus apriles

idus apriles

  • ludi Cereri (day 2)– games in honour of the grain goddess Ceres, instituted by/before 202 B.C.
  • rites in honour of Jupiter Victor and Jupiter Liber
  • 150 A.D. — martyrdom of Carpus and companions at Pergamon
  • 303 A.D. — martyrdom of Maximus and companions at Silistria
  • 1748 — death of Christopher Pitt (translator of Virgil)