The Apse Mosaic at Santa Pudenziana, Rome
Church of St. Pudentiana, Rome
The lower right corner of the mosaic is a restoration from 1588;
otherwise, this is the oldest church mosaic in existence. It is also one of the oldest
examples of the use of the angel,
ox, lion, and eagle to represent the
evangelists (see detail) and one of the earliest
images in which Christ is represented as a human figure rather than a
symbol. (Directly above this naturalistic image, he is represented
symbolically by the Cross.)
figures place crowns on the heads of St. Paul (on the left) and
St. Peter (on the right). The figures are often taken to be St.
Pudentiana and St. Praxedes, but historians consider it more likely
that they represent the Gentiles and the Jews respectively.
The codex in Christ's left hand reads Dominus
conservator ecclesiae Pudentianae, which can mean either "God
is the preserver of Pudentia's church" or "God is the preserver of the
Pudentian [i.e. of St. Pudens] church."
In 2007 an archeology intern at the church reported that the background
of the image represents with some accuracy the buildings that actually
existed outside on the street at the time the mosaic was installed.
More of early representations of Christ
More of St. Paul
More of St. Peter
More of the Evangelists
Photographed at the
site by Richard Stracke