From the 1st century to the 4th century worship of the god Mithra was big in Rome, particularly in the Legions. The Mithraeum to be opened to tours dates from the 3rd century. Ancient tunnels in Rome reopen to the public – The Art Newspaper.
Mithraeums were places of worship for initiates of the religious cult of Mithraism, which was centred around the Persian god Mithra and practiced throughout the Roman empire from around the first to the fourth centuries AD. A Mithraeum would usually exist underground, either in a cavern or beneath existing buildings, and was traditionally dark and windowless.
Early attempts to open the Mithraeum did more harm than good. Skylights let in sun and light, causing the growth of algae on the walls, causing flooding of the tunnels. These have been corrected and electric lights installed for the visitors. There is limited painting left, but the site should still give people an interesting look at an important part of the Roman Empire.
I won’t go into all the details of Mithra that I find interesting. But I will leave you with the following.
Mithra has the following in common with the Jesus character:
- Mithra was born on December 25th of the virgin Anahita.
- The babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger and attended by shepherds.
- He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
- He had 12 companions or “disciples.”
- He performed miracles.
- As the “great bull of the Sun,” Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
- He ascended to heaven.
- Mithra was viewed as the Good Shepherd, the “Way, the Truth and the Light,” the Redeemer, the Savior,
- Mithra is omniscient, as he “hears all, sees all, knows all: none can deceive him.”
- He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
- His sacred day was Sunday, “the Lord’s Day,” hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
- His religion had a eucharist or “Lord’s Supper.”
- Mithra “sets his marks on the foreheads of his soldiers.”
- Mithraism emphasized baptism.