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Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 499 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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AVRELIAE • PETRONILLAE FIL • DVLCISSIMAE This is now in St Peter's, but was probably originally behind the apse of this basilica, for there is a fresco of her in an arcesolium, with a matron named Veneranda. The original entrance to the cemetery leads directly into a spacious corridor with no loculi, but recesses for sarcophagi, and decorations of the classical style of the and century. From this a wide staircase leads directly down to a chamber, discovered in March 1881, of a very early date. Within an arcosolium is a tablet set up by " Aurelius Ampliatus and his son Gordian, to Aurelia Bonifatia, his incomparable.wife, a woman of true chastity, who lived 25 years, 2 months, 4 days, and 2 hours." The letters are of the and century; but above the arcosolium was found a stone with great letters, 5 or 6 in. high: "AMPLIATI, the tomb of Ampliatus." Now Ampliatus is a servile name: how comes it to be set up with such distinction in the sepulchre of the Flavii ? Romans xvi. 8 supplies the answer: " Salute Ampliatus, most Rock-tombs of Etruria. beloved to me in the Lord." De Rossi thinks the identification well grounded (Bullettino, 1881, p. 74). Epitaphs of members of the Flavian family have been found here, and others stating that they are put up " Ex INDULGENTIA FLAVIAE DOMITILLAE VESPASIANI NEPTIS." So that De Rossi did not hesitate to complete an inscription on a broken stone thus: Sepulc RVM Flavi oRVM /y De Rossi began his excavations in the cemetery of Santa Priscilla in 1851, but for thirty years nothing but what had been described by Bosic came to light. In 188o he unearthed a portion near the Cappella Greca, and found galleries that had not been touched since they were filled in during the Diocletian persecution. The loculi were intact and the epitaphs still in their places, so that " they form a kind of museum, in which the development, the formulae, and the symbolic figures of Christian epigraphy, from its origin to the end of the 3rd or 4th century, can be notified and contemplated, not in artificial specimens as in the Lateran, but in the genuine and living reality of their original condition." (Bullett., 1884, p. 68). Many of the names mentioned in St Paul's Epistles are found here: Phoebe, Prisca, Aquilius, Felix Ampliatus, Epenetus, Olympias, Onesimus, Philemon, Asyncritus, Lucius, Julia, Caius, Timotheus, Tychicus, Crescens, Urbanus, Hermogenes, Tryphaena and Trypho(sa) on the same stone. Petrus, a very rare name in the catacombs, is found here several times, both in Greek and in Latin. The neighbouring Coemeterium Ostrianum was anciently known as " Fans S. Petri," " ubi Petrus baptizavit," " ubi Petrus Arius sedit." This cemetery derives its name from Priscilla, mother of Pudens, who is said to have given hospitality to St Peter the Apostle. We are reminded of St Paul, and of his friends Aquila and Prisca, by a monument erected by an imperial freedman who was PRAEPOSITVS TABERNACVLORVM—Chief tentmaker. In 1888 a corridor was discovered which had at one time been isolated from the rest of the cemetery. It had no loculi, but recesses in the wall to receive sarcophagi. At the end of the corridor there was a large chamber, 23 ft. by 13 ft., once lined with marble and the ceiling covered with mosaic, a few fragments of which still remain. The only tomb here was a sarcophagus, of which the broken front bears the letters which show it to have been the epitaph of one of the Acilian family:
End of Article: AVRELIAE

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