Dailymail.co.uk By Ellie Zolfagharifard
Newly restored Italian frescoes have revealed what could have been women priests in the early Christian church. The female pictured in this fresco has her arms outstretched as if holding Mass
- -The 230-240 AD frescoes were found in the Catacombs of Priscilla of Rome
- -One fresco shows a group of women celebrating banquet of the Eucharist
- -Another shows woman with outstretched arms like those of a priest
- -Vatican says assertions that these women were priests are ‘fairy tales’
Dug out from the second to fifth centuries, the Catacombs of Priscilla are a complex labyrinth of underground burial chambers stretching eight miles beneath the northern half of the city.
The area is often called the ‘Queen of the catacombs’ because it features burial chambers of popes and a tiny, delicate fresco of the Madonna nursing Jesus dating from around 230 to 240 AD – the earliest known image of the Madonna and Child.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s culture minister, opened the ‘Cubicle of Lazzaro’ which is a tiny burial chamber featuring 4th century images of biblical scenes, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and one of the early Romans buried there in bunk-bed-like stacks as was common in antiquity.