Azerbaijan`s first lady Mehriban Aliyeva attends opening of catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter in Vatican

Vatican, February 24, AZERTAC 

The opening of the catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter restored on the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been held in the Vatican.

Azerbaijan`s first lady, president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva attended the event.

Azerbaijan`s first lady Mehriban Aliyeva first attended the presentation on the restoration of the catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter.

Director of the Museum Rita Paris welcomed Azerbaijan`s first lady Mehriban Aliyeva.

Professor Fabrizio Bisconti thanked Mehriban Aliyeva for her attention to the restoration of the catacombs of Rome.

The professor highlighted the history of the catacombs, as well as their importance for the Christian world.

“We managed to protect this historical place with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation,” he added.

A movie on the restoration of the catacombs was then screened. The movie highlights ongoing restoration of the catacombs, and technical and creative aspects of the process. The movie also applauds the role of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in preserving the world cultural heritage.

President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, cardinal of the Catholic Church Gianfranco Ravasi stressed the value of the catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter for world cultural heritage and Christians. “The Heydar Aliyev Foundation rendered great support for preserving this value,” he added.

Azerbaijan`s first lady Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the event. She highlighted the activity of the Foundation and its work to protect the world cultural heritage. The first lady said Azerbaijan was a crossroads of religions and cultures. “Representatives of various religions have always lived in peace in Azerbaijan,” the first lady added.

Following the ceremony, Mehriban Aliyeva viewed the Palazzo Massimo.

This nineteenth-century palace in Neo-Renaissance style houses one of the world's most important collections of Classical art.

On the four floors of the museum, sculptures, frescoes and mosaics, coins and jewels document the evolution of the Roman artistic culture from the late Republican age through Late Antiquity (2nd c. BCE - 5th c. CE) along an exhibition path in which Ancient Roman history, myths and everyday life live anew.

In the rooms of the ground floor are exhibited splendid Greek originals discovered in Rome such as the Boxer at Rest, the Hellenistic Prince and the Dying Niobid from the Horti Sallustiani as well as portraiture of the Republican and Imperial ages, culminating in the statue of Augustus Pontifex Maximus.

The Museum demonstrates frescoed walls and pavement mosaics document the domestic decor of prestigious Roman dwellings. The basement houses the sizeable numismatic collection, besides grave ornaments, jewels and the Grottarossa Mummy.

Then the opening of the catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter was held.

Azerbaijan`s first lady Mehriban Aliyeva and cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the catacombs.

The Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter are ancient catacombs. In 2006, over a thousand skeletons were discovered in these catacombs; the skeletons were stacked one on top of each other and still bore the togas they were buried with.

The Catacombs of Rome are underground burial places under Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, people of all the Roman religions are buried in them, beginning in the 2nd century AD, mainly as a response to overcrowding and shortage of land. The Etruscans, like many other European peoples, used to bury their dead in underground chambers.

The Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Vatican signed a bilateral agreement on the restoration of the Roman catacombs in 2012.

Magsud Dadashov

Special Correspondent

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