Catholic Dictionary




A building in Rome also known as the Flavian Amphitheater. It was begun in A.D. 72 by Vespasian (9-79) and completed in A.D. 80 by Titus (39-81). It is now in ruins. Its form is elliptical, 620 feet long, 525 feet wide, built four stories 157 feet in height. A special terrace was reserved for privileged spectators, a private gallery for the emperor, seats in tiers for ordinary citizens, and standing room for all the rest. It could seat 45,000. During the Middle Ages it was used as a stronghold by the Frangipani; later it came into possession of the municipality. Much of its walls were removed for their stone until Pope Clement X declared it a shrine, sanctuary of the martyrs who gave their lives within its limits during the persecutions. It is now a place of pilgrimage for visitors to Rome. (Etym. Latin colisseus, huge, gigantic, colossal.)