Below Rome… The Story of the Catacombs

Scotch Plains residents Frank J. Korn and his wife Camille have co-authored a book on the subterranean cemeteries of the early Christians. Below Rome… The Story of the Catacombs, published by St. Johann Press, traces the history of Christianity in the capital city of the Roman Empire and the custom of tunneling the subsoil for burial purposes, not only by the local Christian community but also by the Jewish colony of the Eternal City.
In fact, it was the latter group that first conceived the idea of underground necropoli. Both communities disdained the practice of cremation widely used by the pagan populace, preferring instead to inter the bodies of their deceased. The entombment of urns of ashes required relatively little space, whereas the burial of bodies called for far more ground. Thus, for largely economical reasons, the Jews and Christians would purchase tracts of land outside the city walls, in conformity with an ancient law forbidding burial within Rome’s fortifications, and gain the necessary ample space by tunneling their property, sometimes as much as five levels deep.
The authors, who travel often to Rome, are residents of Scotch Plains. Frank, a Fulbright Scholar, taught Classical Studies at Seton Hall University. Camille had a long and distinguished secretarial career at St. Theresa School in Kenilworth. Below Rome is his ninth book, her first.
The 189 page hardcover volume may be purchased on, your local book store, or from the publishing house: St. Johann Press, P.O. Box 241, Haworth, N.J.  07641. (Include $5.00 for shipping when ordering from the publisher.)

(above) Scotch Plains authors, Frank and Camille Korn, drink a toast to the release of their book, Below Rome… The Story of the Catacombs.