A newfound painting of the Apostle John (pictured in an underground Roman tomb on Tuesday) is among the oldest known depictions of some of the original 12 Christian Apostles, experts say.
The Santa Tecla catacombs—situated beneath an office building in Rome's Ostiense area—contain fourth-century-A.D. paintings of the Apostles Paul, Peter, John, and Andrew, who were early followers of Jesus Christ.
Early Christians—as well as other faiths—buried their dead in extensive networks of catacombs outside Rome.
Catacomb archaeological superintendent Fabrizio Bisconti describes frescoes found in the Santa Tecla catacombs on Tuesday.
In 2009 the Vatican announced that the oldest known icon of the Apostle Paul had been found on the catacomb's ceiling.
New laser-restoration efforts have revealed that Paul's image is part of a larger work that also includes the Apostles Peter, John, and Andrew—as well as Christ himself, depicted as the Good Shepherd, according to Italian news reports.