Vatican City, 19 November 2013 (VIS) – At 4 p.m. today, in the Basilica of San Silvestro at the catacombs of Priscilla, the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology will present the results of the work carried out there during the last five years. The speakers at the presentation will be Fr. Ciro Benedettini C.P., vice director of the Holy See Press Office; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology (PCAS); Msgr. Giovanni Carrù, secretary of the same Commission, Fabrizio Bisconti, superintendent; Giorgia Abeltino, head of public policy at Google; and Barbara Mazzei and Raffaella Giuliani, both members of PCAS.
During the last five years, archaeological excavation works have been carried out, along with the conservational restoration of the paintings inside the catacombs and the renovation and reorganisation of one of the most evocative spaces, the basilica in which Pope Silvestro was buried. Of particular note is the restoration of the cubiculum of Lazzarus, in the subterranean cemetery close to the papal basilica, which was the last in a long series of conservational procedures carried out in the cemetery of Priscilla.
The basilica of San Silvestro is composed of two spaces, one dedicated to worship and the other used in the past as a deposit for ancient sculptural material unearthed during the excavations. These include over 700 fragments of sarcophagi, meticulously restored, from the necropolises which during the late imperial age extended along this part of the Via Salaria Nova. The result is an important body of late-ancient funerary sculptural works, arranged and presented to the public as a museum exhibit.
This valuable example of sculptural heritage may be viewed on-line at the site mupris.net; the complex of the catacombs of Priscilla may now also be admired in the program Google Maps, in the dedicated section “Views Priscilla”.