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calixtus, st

Bisomus

A Bisomus is a tomb large enough to contain two bodies. The ordinary tombs (loci) in the galleries of the Roman catacombs contained one body. It sometimes happened, however, that a space large enough to contain two bodies was excavated. Such a double grave is referred to in inscriptions as locus bisomus. An inscription from the catacomb of St. Calixtus, for instance, informs us that a certain Boniface, who died at the age of twenty-three years and two months, was interred in a double grave which had been prepared for himself and for his father (Bonifacius, qui vixit annix XXII et II (mens) es, positus in bisomum in pace, sibi et patr. suo). A 4th century inscription tells of two ladies who had purchased for their future interment, a bisomus in a "new crypt" which contained the body of a Saint:

IN CRYPTA NOBA RETRO SAN
CTUS EMERVM VIVAS BALER
RA ET SABINA MERUM LOC
V BISOM AB APRONE ET A
BIATORE

Like so many pious but rather superstitious persons of that age, "Balerra" and "Sabina" wished to be buried in the closest proximity to a martyr, retro sanctos, a privilege which, as we learn from another inscription, "many desire but few receive" (quod multi cupiunt et rari accipiunt).

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