But enough dawdling at ground level! Let’s join Mullooly about twenty feet underground. There he made one of the most unique and interesting discoveries of his time. At what was ground level centuries earlier, he found a Christian basilica dating to circa 350 A.D. Sure, it is not the first Christian church to be built in Rome after Emperors Licinius and Constantine’s Religious Tolerance Act of 313 A.D. But it is among the first!
Used for hundreds of years, the church boasts frescoes from shortly after the year 1000. Wealthy donor Maria Macellaria (Mary the Butcher) and her husband paid for them. On one hand, bad timing! Because soon that, the church was abandoned, back-filled, and rebuilt on a higher ground level. On the other, the frescoes have survived exactly because they were buried! And we will discuss one or two of them (like the one in the picture).