February 23, 2016

President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva attends the inauguration of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs in Vatican

On February 23, inauguration of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs, restored following the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, took place in Vatican. 


Azerbaijan’s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva attended the ceremony.


First, Mehriban Aliyeva attended the presentation dedicated to the restoration of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs, having arrived at the Massimo Palace in Rome. 


Museum’s director Rita Paris greeted Mehriban Aliyeva and other guests. 


Professor Fabricio Biskonti specially thanked Mehriban Aliyeva for the attention shown towards restoring Roman catacombs. Giving information about the history of the catacombs, he underscored that they were of significant importance to the whole Christian world, and said the outcome of the restoration works was magnificent. Saying “We could preserve this historical place thanks to the support provided by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation”, F.Biskonti gave information to the attendees of the theme of frescoes on the catacombs.


Then a film about the restoration of the catacombs was shown. Comprehensive information was given in the documentary about the progress of works and their technical and creative aspects, and gratitude was expressed to the Heydar Aliyev Foundation for its services to the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage, and restoration of catacombs. 


President of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture Gianfranco Ravasi emphasized that the catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter were of great moral value for the world culture, especially for Christians. And the Heydar Aliyev Foundation of Azerbaijan, a Muslim country, has provided great support to immortalizing this moral value. Saying he had appealed to the Christian world in connection with restoration of the catacombs facing the peril of destruction, but got no positive response, Cardinal Ravasi brought to attention that only the Heydar Aliyev Foundation reacted to this call.  


Mehriban Aliyeva addressed the ceremony.


After the presentation ceremony, Mehriban Aliyeva familiarized herself with masterpieces being preserved in the Massimo Palace Museum. Collections of the classical world art have been brought together in the Massimo Palace, one of the most famous museums of the Italian capital. Samples of sculpture, frescoes, inlays, coins and different gold ornaments related to the Roman culture covering the period from the 2nd century B.C. to the 5th century A.D. are preserved in the museum. The museum’s significance is associated with the fact that one can see here the unity of history, mythology and ancient Rome’s daily life at a time. On the other hand, ancient Greek statues, portraits related to the republican and imperial periods, and a statue of Augusto Pontefice Massimo are among the valuable treasures of the museum. Masterpieces of sculpture are demonstrated on the first floor. Walls dominated by frescoes and inlays, and works reflecting home designs related to wealthy Roman estates are on the second floor. Here are also being preserved coin collections, furniture and jewellery related to that period. 


Then inauguration of the Saints Marcellinus and Peter catacombs, restored with support from the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, took place. 


After cutting the ribbon symbolizing an official opening, a plate with information about the catacombs’ being restored by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation at the entrance was unveiled. 


While getting familiarized with catacombs, it was informed that restoration works that had been going on since 2012 were performed on the highest level. Innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology was used during the restoration. 


It should be mentioned that the restoration of holy Roman catacombs have been carried out on the basis of an agreement signed between the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Holy See in 2012. The Italian media and public appreciated this act of the Foundation as one of the most significant contributions made to the development of dialogue between religions and cultures. 


At the end of the ceremony, the attendees and Cardinal Ravasi once more thanked Mehriban Aliyeva for this benevolent activity.