How we ended up in a little Italian village called “Fregene,” deep into Italy’s country—coupled with earnest intentions to explore the sights of Rome, is beyond my imagination. Transport to Rome and back would require 2 train rides, 2 bus rides and two car rides from the Fregene train to our rental. But isn’t there always a hidden treasure with “wrong turns?”
We exited the train in Fregene (30 min train ride to Rome), France where our BNB host was to meet us. We walked out of the station, and before we could even look around, “Paola”(our host) jumped out of her black, mini fiat, waving wildly, hollering, “Ciao!!!”
We quickly jumped into her car, and she was out of there –leaving the station in the dust. While driving away, she paused and said, “I thought I was picking up old people!!!” We laughed and thanked her profusely for providing transportation to our new place where we would spend 4 days.
We drove up to a pristine building in a charming neighborhood. The condo was meticulously clean, roomy, and provided every amenity imaginable for our stay. As a welcoming gesture, Paola arranged a bottle of wine and crystal glasses displayed on the counter stating, “For your anniversary.” What a lovely human!
After a brief tour, Paola left stating she would pick us up in afternoon and take us as far as the area where she worked, so we could head into the city for the Borghese Galleria Tour that evening. We did not ask a lot of questions, because Paola had a specific plan and we were in it.
We arrived in some remote area with lush greenery, trees, and large rolling countryside estates when Paola pulled to the side of the road and said, “Go look around! Saint Sebastian’s Church might be open.”
We exited on foot as Paola went her way. Rick and I looked at each other and said, “Okay. . ..to Saint Sebastian’s we go.”
Upon entering St. Sebastian Church, we were informed that St. Sebastian’s church is the sight of 5 levels of catacombs with the first level almost completely destroyed . We quickly signed up for the tour, and descended into the “caves.”
By way of background, we learned that Saint Sebastian was an early saint who was martyred, with his remains being buried beneath the church (in the catacombs) in mid-third century. During Diocletian’s rule, or the Great Persecution of Christians, St. Sebastian was ordered to death by arrows, for converting his fellow Roman soldiers to the Christian faith.
According to hagiography (biography of a saint or ecclestical leader) Saint Irene of Rome tended his wounds and he recovered. St Sebastian then presented himself again to Diocletian, who promptly ordered he was to be clubbed to death.
A basilica was erected over the grounds in the early 4th century to honor St. Sebastian.
Discovered as recently as 1922, archaeologists have found Roman mausoleums near the Christian catacombs where the Romans buried pagan remains. Noteworthy, is the distinct size variance of the “crevices” utilized by Christians versus the Romans.
Christian crevices were rectangular, often deep into the walls of the caves, 4-5 feet a length of approximately 4 to 5 feet, large enough to bury the full bodies of an entire clan. The Romans incorporated small, mausoleum crypts, which housed ashes of a single person.
Christians refused to incinerate the deceased, but rather, buried full bodies of families, in anticipation of their future resurrection.
As we made our way deeper underground, it was if the caves had voices and began to speak. The walls of the catacombs exhibited astounding, well-preserved frescos, many with the Apostles Paul and Peter as their subjects, There are over 600 graffiti—visual images, of multi-faceted symbols and modes representing and pointing to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It was stunning beyond belief, and silence struck the tour group as we visualized the messages which were designated for generations to come.
The length of this post is excessively long and wordy but I am convinced it is completely worthy of focus.
4 thoughts on “FREGENE, ROME”
This is amazing!!! So you basically were picked up by a woman who took you to an amazingly, historical place and you had no idea it was there, but she knew it was! How exciting! The catacombs are so incredible! Enjoy Roma!
I was in Lanciano once, several years ago, also near Rome. What a beautiful gift! I swam in the Aegean Sea and enjoyed every minute of it!
BEYOND AMAZING! Striving to capture it all, but it is impossible to do so. . .
Not to wordy at all. Thanks for taking the time to put us there.