New President for Commission of Sacred Archeology

Bishop Mauro Piacenza

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 30, 2004 ( John Paul II accepted the resignation of Cardinal Francesco Marchisano as president of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology and named as his successor Bishop Mauro Piacenza.

The Holy See confirmed on Saturday the nomination of Bishop Piacenza, former president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Goods of the Church.

The Commission of Sacred Archeology was instituted by Pius IX «to guard the ancient sacred cemeteries,» to conserve, explore, carry out research and studies, and to protect the oldest memories «of the first Christian centuries, the famous monuments» and the basilicas on Roman soil and in the other dioceses in accord with their respective bishops.

The commission was created at the suggestion of Giovanni Battista de Rossi, a Roman archeologist, to improve the organization of excavations and restorations, and the safeguarding of the great complex of catacombs which was coming to light on the Appian Way.

Rossi contributed to the scientific basis of Christian archeology, studying and excavating the Roman catacombs, according to a modern topographic method which takes into consideration simultaneously the historical sources and monuments.

The commission was declared pontifical in 1925 by Pius XI. The Lateran Pacts extended its competencies and realm of action and study to all the existing catacombs on the Italian territory.

No places entrusted to the pontifical commission can be modified without its permission. It directs all work carried out in places under its jurisdiction and publishes the results, establishes the norms for access to the sacred cemeteries by the public and scholars, and indicates which crypts and with what caution they can be used for the liturgy.

The Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology has its headquarters in the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archeology in Rome. For more information contact the commission via e-mail:

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