Rome is the center of Christianity, but perhaps not everyone knows that most rites, feasts and even Christian temples, in most cases, overlap with corresponding ancient pagan rites, feasts and temples.
The date of birth of Jesus, for example, was placed by the Church on December 25th, which for many may seem like a date like any other, but which for pagans and worshippers of various representations of the Sun-God was not at all.
Everyone knows that December 21st is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, but few know that December 25th is the first day on which the Sun, after remaining at the lowest point of the horizon, begins to rise, and the days begin to lengthen.
Therefore, for solar cults it is a very important date. Very many ancient Gods have as their date of birth the same day.
Il giorno in cui la Dea-Notte, secondo gli antichi culti solari, dava vita to the Sun-God, is December 25th.
We find this date in the Cult of Horus, born by Isis in the ancient Egypt, and especially in the Cult of Mithras, born from the Anahita Virgin.
The juxtaposition of Jesus with these pre-existing deities was also an act of the Church aimed at indicating Jesus as the "True Divine Sun", and therefore to demonstrate his victory over all forms of pagan worship.
Consider the fact that Christian Christmas was instituted in the Empire , in addition, and not in substitution, to the birth day of Mithras, not incidentally born himself, as the Indo-Persian tradition tells, from a virgin.
Also with regards to Easter, as it happened for many pagan holidays, the spring equinox was Christianized.
In fact, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon follows the equinox; the ancient moment of celebration of the transition from winter to spring, to the new light (The word Easter, in fact, derives from the Hebrew word "Pessah", "passage") becomes, in the Christian tradition, the celebration of Christ' resurrection
And many other examples in this sense could be brought, but it is particularly interesting to talk about the Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo, and about the sumptuous pagan cult structure that was found in its subsoil in 1973.
The Basilica was built in the 5th century AD. on pre-existing structures: a "Castra Peregrina", building built in the second century AD in order to house the soldiers of the provincial armies, who were to absolve peculiar tasks.
In 1973, under the church floor, a Mithraeum was accidentally discovered; the temple of worship of the god Mithras was part of the same barracks.
The god Mithras, of whom I have already spoken a few paragraphs ago, was the divinity of light, of oriental origin, precisely Persian, who helped the heavenly god in the fight against Evil.
The Mithraeum discovered under the Basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo is a rectangular environment, which during the rituals was illuminated by torches and candles.
Like other similar buildings, it consists of two counters on the sides, and an altar for the liturgical celebration, with the representation of the god Mithras killing the bull (Tauroctonìa).
On the walls there is a splendid fresco with the personification of the Moon, represented with a woman's face inscribed in profile in a large crescent moon. Once upon a time there was also the Sun.
At the time of the discovery of the Mithraeum many fragments were found, including the golden head of Mithras, now kept in the National Roman Museum at the Baths of Diocletian.
It is a high relief representing Mithras, which, according to Roman tradition, on this topic slightly different from the oriental one, is already born a boy from a rock, holding in his hands a burning torch and a dagger.
It is interesting that, in the Indo-Persian tradition, Mithra was born from a virgin, just like Jesus.
The Mithraeum found under the Basilica was suddenly abandoned, probably at the end of the fourth century AD, destroyed and devastated like many other similar buildings.
Most of the precious marbles and statues were crushed and left on the ground.
Inside the building, land and landfills were thrown for the construction of the church above.
A historical fact that testifies to the definitive victory of Christianity over a cult, the Mithraism, which was so important in Rome that it is estimated that at least half of the population of Rome was dedicated to it, and, as the sources of the time narrate, that even Nero himself was initiated to its rites.
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Some reviews of people that I have had the pleasure of guiding on my tours
The tour I wanted
The tour of the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill that I have wanted to do for a long time. Camilla was a perfect choice. Prepared, friendly, patient with my many questions. I will recommend her to my friends. Thanks Camilla!
The squares of Rome are very interesting
My wife and I went on a tour of Rome's squares with Camilla. Although I was a little skeptical at first and took this tour by suggestion of my wife, I must say it turned out to be spectacular, and that Camilla was simply a fantastic guide.
Vatican exploration to remember
I had always tried to imagine what was behind the Vatican doors. This tour finally introduced me to a reality that had intrigued me all my life.
Rome in a Day
Without straining we were able to see in one day all the most famous glimpses of Rome, also recognizing many places seen in the great films of Italian cinema. A day that I would suggest to anyone who goes to Rome.
Forum and Palatine
We all know the Colosseum, but perhaps we know less about the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill. Camilla has a perfect way to make you "travel" in Imperial Rome, among historical data, curiosities, secrets ... Not only a great day, but also useful, very useful!
As a teacher I tell you: do it!
All my life I taught History and Letters in high school, and I thought that a tour like the Colosseum could tell me little, and in fact I had organized it mostly for my wife and my daughter. Actually, this guide has been able to illuminate some aspects of the life of Roman citizens that were completely unknown to me. We never know enough about Rome.
The Sistine Chapel is an incredible emotion
Before doing this tour of the Vatican I knew that the Sistine Chapel is one of the most important and famous works of art in the world, but I would never have imagined the emotion that entering that place caused me. There are no words to describe it. Thanks Camilla, for your expert and complete guide.
How nice the tour of the squares!
When we think of the squares of Rome we always imagine the most famous ones, such as the Spanish Steps or Piazza Navona. But those who are not from Rome, like me, often do not even suspect how beautiful many other squares of this incredible city can be! I recommend you do this tour with Mrs. Verdacchi, you won't regret it!
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