Catacombs of Generosa

Rome, Italy

The Catacomb of Generosa is part of an archeological complex, rich of remains not just Christian, but also pagan. The catacomb is situated inside a hill and occupies a single level. The former entrance of the catacomb, just like other Roman catacombs, was inside a basilica, built under Pope Damasus I in the second half of 4th century, whose remains have been discovered by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in the 19th century. In the apse a fenestella confessionis (little window for confession) allowed to see the main place of worship, while a side door gave access to the catacomb.

According to the tradition, the catacomb first served as burial place for martyrs Simplicius and Faustinus, killed in 303 under Diocletian. The hypogeum graveyard served mainly for the entombment of the farmers of the surroundings and therefore it shows a sober and poor style. Near 382 Pope Damasus built the semi-hypogeum basilica and the catacomb ceased being a graveyard and became a place of worship of the martyrs there buried. In 682 Pope Leo II moved the relics of the martyrs of Generosa in the church of Santa Bibiana on the Esquiline Hill: the catacomb was thereby gradually abandoned and its location was forgotten.

The discovery, in the 19th century, of marble inscriptions inspired the interest of the archaeologist Giovanni de Rossi, who in 1868 discovered the remains of the basilica and soon after the Catacomb of Generosa. The catacomb was restored in the 1930s by Enrico Josi. Further archaeological campaigns were carried out between 1980 and 1986.

The most important place of all the catacomb is the martyrs crypt, at the back of the apse of the external basilica. It hosted a fresco with Byzantine features, called Coronatio Martyrum, dating back to 6th century. It portrays five figures: the central one is Christ, handing out the crown of martyrdom to Simplicius, with Beatrix at his side; on the left of Christ are Faustinus, bearing the palm of martyrdom in his hand, and Rufinianus. The fresco was seriously damaged when Giovanni Battista de Rossi, in the 19th century, attempted to tear it off.

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Founded: 4th century AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Italy

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3.9/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Anna I. (6 months ago)
Small Christian catacombs in a countryside area, we are at the 6th mile of the Via Campana, an ancient road connecting Rome and Ostia to transport salt. The catacombs are small but very interesting and the visit managed by the "generous catacombs" association, although a little long in the explanations, is a real and very interesting history lesson
Sergio di fruscia (15 months ago)
Ok
Roberto Cecchini (2 years ago)
It reminded me a little of the catacombs of Commodilla but more is needed... On a hill not far from the Israeli hospital (you have to turn right and walk about 600 metres) on the street of the same name you arrive at a small well-kept park - difficult find parking, arm yourself with patience - but not accessible (once a month) owned by the Capitoline superintendence but managed by the good volunteers of the Generosa committee. The place, on the top of which a cross culminates, stands out for being simple and bare and still has much to investigate. These are semi-pogean catacombs (you go down a few steps) on a single level, not pathetically precious, which house many niches still closed, some marble epigraphs and many bones. Of particular value is an arcosolium with the remains of frescoes especially on the sides and a fresco with the remains (restored but very deteriorated) depicting the three martyr brothers who were buried here (Generous is called the brown woman who donated the land for the burials). On the surface there are few remains of what was the basilica built on the cemetery before the relics were transferred and the place abandoned. With due valorization by the municipality it would be of greater interest and we hope that the funds received will serve to make these cultural resources of the neighborhood (twinned with Fulda, a city built around the relics of the saints once buried here) usable. Look at the photos and videos I have posted and the other reviews I have done on Rome and its wonders and if I have been useful click on useful and if you want follow me
Laura (2 years ago)
The basilica stands along Via Portuense and was built at the behest of Pope Damasus - in the 4th century AD - within the catacombs of Generosa where the martyrs Simplicius, Faustina and Beatrice were buried. The semi-underground place of worship, brought to light following archaeological investigations conducted during the second half of the 19th century, looks like a large building divided into three naves of different widths. It was conceived with an irregular plan to facilitate entry into the catacombs which took place through the Introitus door in Martyres, to the right of the apse. Several tombs found inside testify that the basilica was also used as a burial place. Following its abandonment, which took place at the end of the sixth century, the remains of the martyrs were moved to the basilica of Santa Bibiana.
Colei che corre sulle onde (2 years ago)
We visited the Catacombs with the guided tour, organized by the Generosa Catacombs Committee. We would like to thank the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Nicola de Guglielmo, and the volunteers for their commitment to disseminate the history and historical heritage of the XI Municipality of Rome.
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