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PARADOXPLACE CHURCHES OF ROME     ESQUILINE HILL CHURCHES

 

THE MAJOR BASILICA OF

SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE

 

TRIUMPHAL ARCH MOSAICS

 

NAVE MOSAICS

 

 

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The Roman Pope St  Liberius (?? - 352 - 366) was instructed by the Virgin Mary, in a dream, to build a church in Rome dedicated to her "where snow had fallen".  On the Summer morning of 5 August 358, Rome awoke to see the unheard of Summer sight of the summit of the Esquiline Hill entirely covered with snow, and Liberius, glad no doubt for a spot of respite from wearying and drawn out stoushes with Emperor, heretics, anti-Popes etc,  took time out to climb to the top of the hill and sketch in the snow the outline of the church he then had built.

 

Liberius' church was replaced less than a hundred years' later by a much larger basilica built by Pope St Sixtus III (? - 432 - 440) to celebrate the major output of the 431 Council of Ephesus - to wit the confirmation of the importance of the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God.  Sixtus paid personally for the glorious mosaic narrative story panels on the Triumphal Arch, as a tribute to the Ephesus Council.  They are still there today.  He also paid for 22 mosaic panels arrayed down the sides of the nave with illustrations of stories from the Old Testament.  Many of these are also still in place.

 

Santa Maria Maggiore is the only one of the Major Basilicas whose core structure remains as it was 1600 years ago, and the only one that Team Paradox makes a point of popping in to when in Rome, along with the next door Santa Prassede.  It is worth finding out a bit about the story lines of the mosaics of the Triumphal Arch before sitting down in the nave and taking time to enjoy them.  The mosaics of the apse and its arch are much later in date and not nearly as interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Maria Maggiore - north (apse) side.

 

 

 

The gold coffered ceiling of the nave is the most recent large scale alteration, and dates from the Renaissance days of the latter 1400s - so its only 600 years old!

 

 

Guidebook photo

 

The small slab of the tomb of Gian Lorenzo Bernini - leading Roman Architect and Sculptor (1598 - 1680 (82))

 

 

 

The Cosmatesque floor was laid in 1290.

 

 

SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE - TRIUMPHAL ARCH (430s)

 

LINK TO MORE PHOTOS OF THE 1600 YEAR OLD TRIUMPHAL ARCH MOSAICS

 

 

 

 

 

L: Saint Peter between Luke's Bull and Matthew's Man.

C: A crown and mantle surmount the Throne of God, on which rest the Book of the Apocalypse and the New Law.

R: Saint Paul between Mark's Lion and  John's Eagle

"Bishop Sixtus to the people of God"

 

 

LINK TO MORE PHOTOS OF THE 1600 YEAR OLD TRIUMPHAL ARCH MOSAICS

 

 

 

The magnificent Magi visit Herod

 

 

SANTA MARIA MAGGIORE - NAVE MOSAICS (430s)

 

LINK TO MORE PHOTOS OF THE 1600 YEAR NAVE MOSAICS

 

 

 

D15 The fall of Jericho, then the Ark is borne by the priests around the town to the sound of trumpets.

 

 

 

D17 - The defeat of the Amorites, completed by a dense rain of hailstones which (the hand of) God drops on them. 

 

 

 

 

 

The original apse was taken down and rebuilt 6 meters further back by Pope Nicholas IV around 1290.  The "new mosaics", whilst impressive by most standards, do not compare with those on the triumphal arch.  It was during these renovations that the Cosmatesque floor was laid (see above).

 

 

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