Saturday, 16 June 2012

Subterranean chapels

History of the Christian Church,
Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity.
A.D. 311-600. 
Philip Schaff (1819-1893)

"Finally, after the time of Constantine it became customary to erect small houses of worship or memorial chapels upon the burial-places of the martyrs, and to dedicate them to their memory.  Hence the name μαρτύρια, martyrum memoriae, confessiones. The clergy who officiated in them were called κληρικοὶ μαρτυρίων, martyrarii. The name capellae occurs first in the seventh and eighth centuries, and is commonly derived from the cappa (a clerical vestment covering the head and body) of St. Martin of Tours, which was preserved and carried about as a precious relic and as a national palladium of France. These served more especially for private edification.

The subterranean chapels, or crypts, were connected with the churches built over them, and brought to mind the worship of the catacombs in the times of persecution. These crypts always produce a most earnest, solemn impression, and many of them are of considerable archaeological interest".

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