Catacombs have never really interested me, partly because I never took the time to think about their significance or purpose, but recently I did. Scattered throughout the catacombs are (Now, this is my account from tv and pictures, and readings, I have never been there) various drawn artwork of daniel in the lion's den, and the resurrection of Lazarus. It's haunting to realize that the people and artists, who occupied the catacombs, were experiencing persecution. On a regular basis they would find their friends or themselves being torn apart at parties by wild animals, or impaled and lit on fire to light gatherings, just to entertain the Romans. They never fled.
There are more dead people than there are living.
"Late in the 17th century city growth in Paris, both in population and urban expansion, as well as the slow accumulation of generations of the dead had begun to overwhelm Parisian cemeteries. The largest cemetery in Paris, Les Innocents, was so saturated it began to affect those in surrounding neighborhoods. Residents began to suffer from diseases due to improper burials. For centuries, French officials condemned the cemetery to no avail. In 1786, officials decided to exhume the entire cemetery as well as other cemeteries in the city and to take the bones into the now abandoned tunnels of the rock quarries beneath the city. This was a process that would take two years to complete and moved an estimated six million bodies."
Scattered throughout the catacombs are plaques that remind living visitors of their own mortality. Though I have not been there to see it, I have read that as one exits the catacombs a plaque by the door offers a word to the bones:
Listen, dry bones
Listen to the voice of the Lord
The powerful God of our ancestors
Who in one breath created them
Will re-tie your undone knots
You will have new flesh
On which new skin will form
Dry bones, you will live again
For Ezekiel, such pictures were wonderful object lessons. This is Israel. A people windswept and lifeless, all dried up. They are a people without a hope of living again; a people who live and yet do not live, zombies, in a foreign land. However, there is hope. God will bring them back from the grave and God will give them a new spirit and a new life. God will restore them to the land of the living.
Maybe that's why they never fled. Whats worse than death?