Cemeteries aren’t normally big tourist attractions*. You don’t arrive in a new area and think to yourself, “Gee, I sure hope they have a notable cemetery!” But I have now been to the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome two times which I think warrants my sharing about it here.
*That is, unless you’re visiting Gettysburg or NOLA.
Possibly my strangest post ever, I thought I would use Halloween week as the pretense to share a post I was already formulating as I walked along paths framed by graves just weeks ago in Rome.
The instant attraction to this cemetery, what draws the aimless wanderer within its walls, is the Pyramid of Caius Cestius which stands beside it. The person who ventures further around the corner, will find the pleasant surprise of the entrance to the cemetery.
The cemetery dates back to 1716 as a place for non-Catholics to be buried. Included on the grounds are the graves of Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians, as well as, many notable persons including poets Shelley and Keats, painters, sculptors, authors, scholars, and diplomats. It is still used today.
I was moved upon this second visit* by the beautiful inscriptions on many of the tombs. Some chosen perhaps by the deceased, some by those who loved them deeply.
*Made entirely for Jon who has an odd fascination with cemeteries.
It is sown a natural body it is raised a spiritual body
Her ways were ways of pleasantness and all her paths were peace
The light of your spirit illuminates our path
Natural curiosity makes me wish for the story behind the selection of each inscription, but what I do know is that these graves represent the preservation of the memories of lives well lived and a reminder that death is not an ending, but a new beginning.