In an article on Bible History Daily it’s revealed that the city of Rome is planning to make the underground network of ancient tunnels discovered beneath the Baths of Caracalla accessible to the public once more. The series of tunnels are said to “connect the largest Mithraic temple in the Roman Empire.” At one time open to public tours via appointment, the subterranean tunnels were closed for restoration after ceiling skylights were opened causing the formation of algae and serious interior damage to the tunnels.
Mithraea and the god Mithra
Mithraea are ancient pagan sites of worship for the followers of Mithraism: A mystery religion involving the worship of Mithra, a Persian god, who was later identified as the Grecian god Mithras. These ancient sites were caverns or caves, some of which have been discovered under existing buildings. Along with the Mithraeum, discovered last year beneath the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy, a number of Mithraea have also been found in Europe including sites in France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, and the United Kingdom. According to a write up in Bible History Daily, within the Mithraeum found under the Baths of Caracalla, a space for the sacrifice of bulls and a fresco depicting the god Mithra were also discovered.
According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, Mithra is an ancient Iranian god who is the keeper of cosmic order and the god of friendship, contracts, and light. The worship of Mithra increased and spread quickly; By 100 AD the worship of the god was common in Rome, particularly among Roman soldiers; He was commonly referred to as Deus sol invictus, meaning “The Unconquered Sun.” The worship of Mithra declined following the rise of Christianity and the Christian conversion of Constantine the Great. Mithraea were created in caves because it was believed that such sites “represented the birth-cave of the god.”
The Mithraeum, a pagan site once used for the worship of the Persian god Mithra, is also located beneath the Baths of Caracalla. The Mithraeum was previously renovated and is connected to the subterranean tunnels as it establishes one route for tourist access. Plans for restoration will be finished in December, once again allowing for access to the underground network.
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