Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 24
An opening of the catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter restored with the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been held in Vatican.
Azerbaijan's first lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva attended the event.
Prior Azerbaijan's First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the presentation on restoring 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 restoration of catacombs of Rome.
The professor highlighted the history of the catacombs, as well as its importance for Christian world.
"We could protect this historical place with the support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation," he added.
A movie on restoring the catacombs has been demonstrated. The movie highlights ongoing process of restoring the catacombs, its technical-creative aspects. The movie also thanks the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for services 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.
"Heydar Aliyev Foundation gave great support for preserving this value," he added.
Azerbaijan's First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the event. The president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation thanked for kind words. The first lady highlighted the activity of the Foundation in protecting the world cultural heritage and said Azerbaijan is at crossroads of religions and cultures.
"Representatives of various religions live in Azerbaijan in peace," 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.
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.
A bilateral agreement was signed between the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Vatican on restoration of Roman catacombs in 2012. The Italian media and society appreciate the Foundation's step as one of the important contributions to development of inter-religious and intercultural dialogue.