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Rome, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, apse mosaic, Christ in glory, St. Paul, St. Cecilia and Pope Paschal I

Rome, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, apse mosaic, Christ in glory, St. Paul, St. Cecilia and Pope Paschal I

Christ stands in glory amidst the clouds in the center of the apse mosaic of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere (817-824). He raises his right hand in blessing, holds a scroll in his left, and has a golden halo with a jewelled cross within. Above him, a hand descends from heaven with a wreath-crown. To the left, St. Paul holds a book and makes a gesture presenting two figures: St. Cecilia, the patron of the church, stands crowned and leads Pope Paschal I who holds a model of the church that he built and decorated. Pope Paschal I has a square, blue halo – the square nimbus was used in early medieval paintings and mosaics in Rome to identify living or contemporary figures associated with the artworks in which they were depicted (See: John Osborne, “The Portrait of Leo IV in San Clemente, Rome: A Re-examination of the So-Called ‘Square’ Nimbus in Medieval Art,” Papers of the British School at Rome 47 [1979]: 58-65]). In the background, a phoenix sits in the palm tree. In ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology, it was believed that the phoenix was a bird that could regenerate itself from its own ashes. Early Christians adapted the myth to make the phoenix a symbol of the resurrection and the hope for eternal life. Below, a procession of twelve lambs – six on each side – advances from city gates (not visible in the image), representing Bethlehem and Jerusalem towards a central lamb wearing a halo with the cross and Chi-Rho symbol of Christ within it. The lamb stands on a raised mound from which the four rivers of paradise flow. The twelve lambs (representing the twelve apostles) and the Lamb of God (representing Christ as sacrificial victim) were common symbols in the early Christian art of Rome, from fourth-century sarcophagi through the monumental mosaics of Roman churches. D'Emilio photo archive no. s19781416_2170u
Galleries: Apse, Apse mosaics with Christ and saints, Churches of Rome, Italy 800s, Mosaic, Phoenix, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Sheep and Lambs, St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, St. Paul
Keywords: blessing, martyr, pope, scroll
Photo Location: Rome, Italy
Date of Photo:
Device Make: Nikon
Device Model: Nikon SUPER COOLSCAN 5000 ED
Original Dimensions: 3626×5350
Picture Orientation: Portrait
GPS Coordinates:
Picture Number: 22101