ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Among the Dead in Paris and Rome

Updated on September 3, 2016
Canita Pro profile image

Canita - has been a secretary/receptionist, bookkeeper, teacher and retail store manager. I love writing about the things I'm curious about.

Catacombs | Source

Trip to shelter

It’s the 4th century AD Paris, France. You are on your way to the place that you are living. The wind is howling and there are a few eerie clouds drifting through. It is two miles from the town to your shelter. You had not planned on staying in town so late. There is a full moon so you should arrive safely. There is not a large population of people at this time in Paris. In the direction you are walking there are no neighbors. There are no street lights in 4th century Paris. No streets, just an uneven cow path which you don’t use regularly because you don’t want a worn path to where you are staying. The trees and grass are not groomed. The further you get from the town the harder it is to see. The wind is blowing hard against your body, off in the distance you see the lightning strike and hear the thunder roll. Soon you will be entering the forest, where the branches seem to be reaching down to grab you and the shadows loom over your path. The tall grass is dry and crackling. Your eyes are now starting to adjust to the pitch black night.

A Walk through the mines

Off in the distance close to where you are headed you see what looks like a shadow moving across the path you are on. But this is not the worst part of your journey. Once you arrive at the opening of the old mines you still have a way to go. Walking in the old mines is cold and dank. To your right you hear a crash! It is dead tree branch toppling down the other branches, bounding to the ground with a bounce. Is something moving around out here or it just the coming storm? You begin looking for the flicker of light that should be coming from the entrance of the mines. Continuing on you soon turn the corner into the mines and see a fine line of smoke drifting from the once lit torch. Grabbing the torch, you place your hand on the side of the bumpy wall of the mine. You slide your hand along it slides over a raised part. Ugh! I don’t want to run my hand there. That is just creepy. You take your hand off the wall and take two steps. You hold out your hand to place it on the wall again, your arm extends full length, you fall into the wall. Ugh! I forgot about the empty one. You right yourself and proceed on down the dusty path. You see the flicker of light in the distance. Someone is returning with a torch. You struggle on a little further and the other person with the torch reaches you. They light your torch and you are on your way to your vault.

The rest of the story...

The rest of this story is that You are a 4th century Christian living among the dead in the catacombs in resistance to religious persecution.

In the month of October our thoughts turn to cooler weather, fall colors, and things that go bump in the night. One of things considered scary is to visit a cemetery and their graves. The “World’s largest graves” are massive hypogeum’s called catacombs.

Catacombs defined

The dictionaries describe catacombs as “any series of vaults or galleries in an underground burial place.” Wikipedia defines them as” human-made subterranean passages for religious practice.” The Greek’s defined them as a “close to the hollow place” or “underground.”

There are two of these massive hypogeum’s in the world one in Rome, Italy the other in Paris, France. The catacombs of Rome began as burial places, but for a time used by Christian as a hiding place during their persecution. The catacombs in Paris, France began as mining caves and were later turned into burial places.

Catacombs of Rome
Catacombs of Rome | Source
Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome Italy:
Rome, Italy

get directions

Catacombs of Rome, Italy

There are fourteen entrances into the Catacombs of Rome. The one visited on March 9, 1980 was the Catacomb of Priscilla which is known as the “The queen of the catacombs.” The catacombs of Rome belong to the Catholic Church and have been the burial place for many throughout the ages. History records that the catacombs were started in the 2nd century AD in response to a shortage of land. It is also a fact that the Christian and Catholic church split during this time over the date of Easter and the canonization of the Holy Bible. It is believed that the catacombs of Rome were used by the Christians to hold their church services and also as a place to live in safety. As you walk through these tombs you see a lot of small graves. Living underground the Christian’s children died from a lack of sunshine thus the large amount of small graves.

To enter the Catacomb of Priscilla you go to the convent of the Benedictine sisters of Priscilla. The tour group gathers in a courtyard like room with arched ceilings. The guide leads you down a staircase that is narrow and dusty. As you descend three sensations hit you is the smell. It is the smell of death the still resides in the air all these centuries later. It is a very distinct smell, one not easily forgotten. It is a musty, sharp smell that can be almost be suffocating. The feel is the temperature dropping as you descend underground. It drops to fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit or thirteen degrees Celsius. Next your vision is impaired as there is only one string of bare lightbulbs strung from the rock surface above you. The darkness starts to close in around you. The steps and paths are uneven, so most of your attention goes to where you are placing your feet. You begin straining to hear what the guide is saying. You then enter a vault or gallery. The guide waits for all the visitors to enter, then he points out an etching on the wall. He states that the catacombs are the place of the “first Christian art” and points out one the many fine frescos found in these tombs. You continue down the rough path passing walls full of empty graves. Then you come to a vault in which the Christians may have held services or had their meals. The vaults are small and would only hold perhaps ten people. The tour continues through more walls of graves and vaults holding frescoes, skeletons and other interesting artifacts.

Christ the Good Shepherd, Fresco Catacomb di Priscilla, Rome, Italy
Christ the Good Shepherd, Fresco Catacomb di Priscilla, Rome, Italy | Source

Frescoes of Catacombs of Priscilla

One of the well-known frescos found in the Catacomb of Priscilla is of the good shepherd. This piece is of Christ with a sheep around his shoulders. The fresco has two additional sheep, two trees, and two birds. This fresco is complete although it is beginning to fade, which is to be expected of something of this age. Another piece found here is “The feast” it is seven women taking Eucharist. This fresco looks as if it has been rubbed many a time. Below the painting large chunks of calcium have fallen away. This catacomb also holds perhaps the oldest picture of the “Virgin Mother Mary.” Almost half of this fresco has fallen away over time and the remaining is faded, but it is fascinating to think that this picture was painted well over two thousand years ago.

Catacombs of Paris, France
Catacombs of Paris, France | Source

Catacombs of Paris, France

Paris, the city, lies in the “Paris basin” which is a low lying continental shelf that is occasionally submerged by ocean water. The flooding prior to the 1600’s caused a build-up of gypsum in the hill or butte Montmartre. During that era a group called the “Commune of National Constituents Assembly” lived on Montmartre and made a living by making wine, stones for building, and mining gypsum. It is from these mines that the once used “Plaster of Paris” was mined.

In the second half of the 18th century these underground passageways were turned into burial places for the Catholic Church. In these catacombs you will find walls of skulls, which were used to reinforce the clasping mining shafts and other spooky artifacts.

Catacombs, Paris, France:
Catacombs of Paris, 1 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France

get directions

Something to think on

As you enjoy the crisp air, array of colors and visit the haunted houses, twisted forest and corn mazes. Think on these massive catacombs where you could have live among the dead.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      My mother's grandmother was from Lagny. My grandmother was born in Paris in 1903. I would love to visit Paris someday, just to get a feel for where my family originated.

    • Canita Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      Canita Prough 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for reading my article.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 

      3 years ago from Australia

      Such a great title! I have always wanted to visit these - most definitely on my to do list now. Thank you

    • Canita Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      Canita Prough 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Chantelle and Happy Moments. It is great to hear peoples responses to your work it helps you to keep writing.

    • Canita Pro profile imageAUTHOR

      Canita Prough 

      3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you. I has been a long time since my visit, but I still remember the smell and feelings I had at that time. I was shocking.

    • Anna C Taylor profile image


      3 years ago from Around the World

      The Catacombs in Rome are largely empty now, many of the remains have long ago turned to dust. But the spookiness has never gone away and the better preserved skeletons remain. Great article!

    • Happy Moment profile image


      3 years ago from The Eastern Bypass

      Great work, but those dry skulls are scaring..They are horror like

    • Chantelle Porter profile image

      Chantelle Porter 

      3 years ago from Chicago

      I loved this article. I thought you did a fantastic job writing it. Your beginning paragraphs really set an eerie tone and I loved it. Great job.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)