UPDATE: Full story.
ROME — From the truly horrible 1970s building housing an insurance company upstairs, you’d never know that the oldest paintings of the Apostles Peter, Paul, John and Andrew are in the basement.
Going down a few steps from the street, visitors see the remains of a pagan necropolis.
The Italian government controls that part of the underground complex and has restored some of the mosaic floors of the burial chambers.
A few yards further into the basement, down a dirt slope, visitors enter the mini Basilica of St. Thecla where Christians would celebrate Mass when visiting the tombs of their loved ones or when they came on pilgrimage to Rome.
The Catacombs of St. Thecla are filled with corridors lined with niches for simple burials and cubicles where the families of the wealthy were interred. There also are several large burial chambers with niches scaling the walls.
After a press conference presenting the restoration of a frescoed cubicle, now known as the Cubicle of the Apostles, the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology allowed several dozen reporters and photographers to visit the catacombs, which are not open to the public.