Catholic Dictionary




Established by Pope Pius IX in 1852, "to watch over the ancient sacred cemeteries, to take precautionary measures for their preservation, to provide for their further exploration, investigation and study, to safeguard the oldest memories of the first Christian centuries, the outstanding monuments and venerable basilicas in Rome, its suburbs, and the territory around Rome, and also in other dioceses, in agreement with the respective Ordinaries." Pope Pius XI in 1925 gave the commission pontifical rank and widened its authority, especially after the Lateran Treaty of 1929. This includes the Hebrew catacombs of the province of Rome. No changes can be made without the commission's authorization in the places entrusted to its care; it is in complete charge of any work to be undertaken, and it publishes the findings of such work. It sets down norms for visits of the public and of scholars to the sacred cemeteries, and determines what crypts, with what precautions, can be used for liturgical functions.