Funerary Inscription of Nicella

Late Antique (Christian)

replica: by artist Carrie Allen 

gift of: Carrie Allen

date of the original: unknown 

provenance of the original: catacombs of San Callisto, Rome

description: Stele with Latin inscription. Plaster replica; marble original. Height 37.5 cm, width 64 cm, depth 3 cm.

This marble inscription, found in the catacombs of Rome, is a funerary stele or slab which was placed across the opening of aloculus, or slot-type grave. The inscription translates as follows:

Nicella, God’s virgin, who lived for more or less 35 years. She was placed [here] 15 days before the Kalends of May [17th April]. For the well deserving one in peace.

There are Christian clues here in the form of the phrases bene merenti (“to the well deserving”) and in pace (“in peace”). The inscription also includes some overt Christian symbolism: the symbols for Alpha, Chi Rho, and Omega (see: "Chi-Rho" Oil Lamp), and a dove holding an olive branch.

(See also: Funerary Inscription of Apuleia CrysopolisFunerary Inscription of Aurelius Hermia and His Wife.)