St. Paul’s has a tradition of doing a Lenten excursion to one of Rome’s many catacombs. This year, we went to the Catacombs of SS. Marcellino and Pietro. Named for two martyrs of the Diocletian Persecution interred there, these catacombs later became a favorite of the wealthy Romans of early Christendom. The beautifully restored frescoes have a gentle and almost happy energy to them. (Thank you Rev. Austin for noting this!) Do they reflect an early Christian understanding of our own resurrection? A hoped for life after death similar to the earthly life of comfort enjoyed by the deceased? I love how St. Paul tries to find words to describe life after this earthly death (see 1 Corinthians 15, especially vv. 35-55), and I suspect that the catacomb frescoes are trying to do the same thing.
After our tour, we celebrated the Eucharist in the underground chapel. Some of us shared how we were grieving our own losses. It was a time to pray about mortality, eternity and hope.