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. And 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.
(Scroll down for last two images…)