Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here
Start your mornings with the good, the beautiful, the true... Subscribe to Aleteia's free newsletter!
Sign me up!

Not Prepared to Donate?

Here are 5 ways you can still help Aleteia:

  1. Pray for our team and the success of our mission
  2. Talk about Aleteia in your parish
  3. Share Aleteia content with friends and family
  4. Turn off your ad blockers when you visit
  5. Subscribe to our free newsletter and read us daily
Thank you!
Team Aleteia

Subscribe

Aleteia

This underground crypt is considered the Sistine Chapel of rock-hewn churches

Share

Also known as “The Crypt of Original Sin,” the cave had already been inhabited back in the Paleolithic era.

Click here to launch the slideshow

When Benedictine monks got to the trail of Pietrapenta, near the southern Italian city of Matera (also known as “the subterranean city”) around the 9th century, they decided to settle in the abundant caves found in the slope of a rocky ravine locally known as La Gravina. These caves had already been inhabited back in the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras, but one of them is now known as “The Crypt of Original Sin,” a church so intricately decorated with mural paintings that is considered the Sistine Chapel of rock-hewn churches.

The crypt itself was almost forgotten and neglected for centuries, and it was even used as a refuge for shepherds, who would refer to it (according to the post published by Atlas Obscura) as “the cave of the 100 saints,” due to the abundant paintings covering its walls.

Here, one can “read” the biblical history of Creation, but can also appreciate the images of the apostles Peter, Andrew, and John; the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel; and an image of Our Lady. One of the wall paintings images, depicting Adam and Eve and the snake around the Tree, gives the crypt its name.

Nowadays, the crypt is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Grateful appreciation to VisitMatera.it for the great images.

Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.
Aleteia offers you this space to comment on articles. This space should always reflect Aleteia values.
[See Comment Policy]
Readers like you contribute to Aleteia's Mission.

Since our inception in 2012, Aleteia’s readership has grown rapidly worldwide. Our team is committed to a mission of providing articles that enrich, inspire and inform a Catholic life. That's why we want our articles to be freely accessible to everyone, but we need your help to do that. Quality journalism has a cost (more than selling ads on Aleteia can cover). That's why readers like you make a major difference by donating as little as $3 a month.