October 8, 2009 / Art & Archaeology
Sutri, Lazio

At yesterday’s Memoria di Pietra Etrusca event (Memories of Etruscan Stone), among many other interesting moments of interaction, the participants found themselves sitting in the ancient Mithraeum, a space not too unlike that of a subway car.

Except here the benches were the very same ones used by the congregations that venerated Mithras 2,600 years ago. mithraeumsutri2And the “carriage” wasn’t cast of steel but a place of worship carved into a volcanic tufa stone bluff, reconverted over the ages first as a church to St. Michael, then to the Madonna.

Ah yes, and there were no windows, but remains of medieval religious frescoes here and there between the columns and niches of the two narrow side naves. And at the front a small altar, above which you could still see the hole from which the blood of the bulls sacrificed during this religion’s ceremonies drained and reached the participants.

mithraeumsutri3Ok, so maybe it wasn’t exactly like the subway. Still quite worth a visit though…

Event organized by, as part of the interesting Via Francigena – Alto Lazio project.

(Scroll down for last two images…)




by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

4 Responses to “Mithraeum”

  1. Kathleen Dameo

    Anyone interested in Mithra temples, should check out the one buried beneath the Church of St. Clement in Rome. St Clement was the third pope and was raised in a home that worshiped Mithra. The church was built on a church that was built on Clement’s family home. The frescoes there have been altered with halos around the women and babies painted on their laps to make them appear to be the Madonna. A fascinating non-tourist spot to see while you are in Rome.

  2. Claudia McCadden

    What a beautiful place just to sit and reflect.
    The fresco of the Madonna and Christ Child was so beautiful. I would enjoy a visit there. Perhaps, next time my husband and myself return to Italy!!!!!



Leave a Reply