We spent today in the 5th century, visiting Santa Maria Maggiore (430 CE) and Santa Pudenziana (422-432 CE), both basilicas built after the time of Constantine, with a pitstop at the Basilica of Santa Prassede (780-822 CE) which contains the Chapel of St. Zeno and the Column of the Flagellation. Our focus today was 5th century mosaic and representations in Early Christian art – examining the nave mosaics of Old Testament scenes at S. Maria Maggiore and the apse mosaics in S. Pudenziana.
We were especially fortunate at S. Pudenziana to be afforded a privileged view of the mosaics from the choir/organ loft – an area not open to tourists, but the gentleman – Mario – in charge of the historical aspects of the basilica, led us up the narrow, winding stairs to this unbelievable space – we were less than a meter from 5th century mosaics – how cool is that? Admittedly, our discussion went a bit over time (…by almost two hours) leaving us less time to study for tomorrow’s impending midterm exam. By the time we finished up, everyone was exhausted, hungry and more concerned about the exam than ever.
As it stands, our apartment took a collective (albeit staggered) nap and we have been diligently studying since this afternoon. One of the many things I love about the Profs. Lingo is their exam style: no slide ideas, just three short answer and two essay questions based on the scholastic articles we have read, the discussions which we have had, and the themes which we have covered. It’s super intense and extremely difficult to study for, but at the same time, you really have to know your stuff in order to succeed – I always remember much more from their courses than from those in which I just have to memorize a bunch of flashcards.
5th Century Mosaics in the Apse of Santa Maria Maggiore