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Rome church opens after centuries under rubble
MSNBC ^ | April 2004

Posted on 04/12/2004 10:00:54 AM PDT by NYer

After 12 centuries under rubble and 24 years of restoration, Rome has opened the doors to Santa Maria Antiqua, the oldest church in the Roman Forum's ancient ruins and its rare collection of early medieval art.

An earthquake buried the church and its numerous Byzantine and early Christian frescoes in 847 and it remained untouched until excavation and reconstruction began in 1900.

Much of the structure had survived and restorers have been hard at work on the interior since 1980 with the site to reopen to the public on April 10 until the end of May.

"The Santa Maria Antiqua is stunning testimony to the richness of a period of which there remain few other details," said art historian Maria Andaloro.

"The opening will give the double opportunity to the public to see not only the church but also the restoration at work," she said.

While many other churches in Rome have been knocked down, destroyed or rebuilt over the centuries, Santa Maria Antiqua's 12 centuries out of action meant it provided a perfect snapshot of early medieval artwork.

Today, the church, hidden in the shade of the central Palatine hill, has a new roof and structural supports but houses some 250 square metres of frescoes that date from its foundation in the mid-sixth century until before the earthquake.

Popes including Martin I, John VII, and Zaccarias ordered numerous redecorations of its interior.

"It is an essential reference point to that period, as each pope had the images renewed with his own iconographic style," she said.

Up to six layers of artwork coat parts of the crumbling walls with an austere image of an enthroned Virgin adored by angels the only painting that dates from the church's foundation.

Opponents to the veneration of religious icons destroyed much religious art during the Iconoclasm movement of the eigth and ninth centuries.


(Excerpt) Read more at msnbc.msn.com ...


TOPICS: Activism; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Religion & Science; Worship
KEYWORDS: byzantines; epigraphyandlanguage; godsgravesglyphs; romanempire; santamariaantiqua

Partial view of the Chapel of Theodotus with a painting scheme dedicated to the life of the Martyrsaints Quirico e Giulitta. To the right of the niche, bedding mortars for an Opus Sectile, dating to late Antiquity (4th-5th century) are visible. On the higher parts of the walls are fragments, probably belonging to the first decoration of the space, at the time of Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD).


The end wall is dominated by the niche containing a monumental Crucifixion. Without the narrative context it becomes an icon showing the human and divine natures of Christ combined. His human body suffers death while the divinity causes the earth to tremble at that precise moment (Matt. 27,51).

1 posted on 04/12/2004 10:00:54 AM PDT by NYer
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To: american colleen; sinkspur; Lady In Blue; Salvation; Polycarp IV; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ..

Partial view of the presbytery with the palimpsest wall in the centre. On all walls of the presbytery there are plasters belonging to a late antique decoration of the monument, on which were applied wall paintings at different periods. In the foreground, the early medieval flooring in Opus Alexandrinum is visible.
(Notice the altar design and position)

Additional Resources:

History from antiquity until the year 847 A.D.
Santa Maria Antiqua

2 posted on 04/12/2004 10:09:21 AM PDT by NYer (O Promise of God from age to age. O Flower of the Gospel!)
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To: NYer
I'm guessing that altar is the work of the "restorers?"
3 posted on 04/12/2004 10:12:54 AM PDT by B Knotts (Salve!)
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To: NYer
Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti! Christus Resurrexit!

Paschal greetings to our separated Latin bretheren.

Um . . . can we have that church back? Just look at it, it's obviously one of ours. :-)====

(Orthodox monastic smiley, for those who don't recognize it.)

4 posted on 04/12/2004 10:13:45 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (XC is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!)
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To: The_Reader_David
He is Risen! He is truly Risen!
Al-Maseeh Qam! Haggan Qam!

5 posted on 04/12/2004 10:21:57 AM PDT by NYer (O Promise of God from age to age. O Flower of the Gospel!)
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To: B Knotts
I'm thinking that too. Can't make out the letters perfectly, but I think I see "1955" and a word that looks like "restitution" - perhaps re: restoration.
6 posted on 04/12/2004 10:34:06 AM PDT by the OlLine Rebel (Common Sense is an Uncommon Virtue)
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To: NYer
Thank you so much, NYer! This is awesome.

****He is Alive****
7 posted on 04/12/2004 10:35:19 AM PDT by the OlLine Rebel (Common Sense is an Uncommon Virtue)
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To: the OlLine Rebel
This is awesome.

Be sure to check out the links - many more photos!

8 posted on 04/12/2004 10:49:48 AM PDT by NYer (O Promise of God from age to age. O Flower of the Gospel!)
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To: The_Reader_David
Just look at it, it's obviously one of ours. :-)====

You wouldn't want it: just look at those iconic inscriptions in (shudder) Latin. ;-)

Christos Anesti!

Alithos anesti!

9 posted on 04/12/2004 11:37:17 AM PDT by Romulus ("Behold, I make all things new")
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To: NYer
The crucifixion painting depicts the Lord wearing the royal colobium, a distinctive feature of Syriac iconography, notably the Rabbala gospels. Many of these paintings date from the 8th century and may have come from the hands of eastern iconographers, refugees from Islam in Palestine and iconoclasm in Constantinople.

Here's a view of the famous "palimpsest" painting: the oldest portion, that of the Virgin enthroned as Seat of Wisdom (arrayed in Byzantine court fashion) dates from the time of Justinian and recalls San Vitale in Ravenna.


10 posted on 04/12/2004 11:52:33 AM PDT by Romulus ("Behold, I make all things new")
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To: Romulus
Thanks for the history on this piece. Archaeology has always fascinated me. I was most fortunate to travel back and forth to Italy over the span of nearly 20 years (even though I did not go on any digs.) The one city that has always captivated me is Pompeii.
11 posted on 04/12/2004 12:40:47 PM PDT by NYer (O Promise of God from age to age. O Flower of the Gospel!)
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To: NYer
Thanks so much for the info and for posting these wonderful photos.
12 posted on 04/12/2004 2:33:09 PM PDT by Victoria Delsoul (Kerry said he wasn't at the '71 plot-to-kill meeting, then, he was but voted NO, now he can't recall)
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To: NYer
Wow. Thanks for the post
13 posted on 04/12/2004 4:40:42 PM PDT by Bramuce
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: B Knotts
I really want to know about that altar, too.

Original equipment, or after-market?
15 posted on 04/12/2004 6:46:50 PM PDT by dsc
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To: dsc
I'm guessing it's Not Original. :-)
16 posted on 04/12/2004 8:19:31 PM PDT by B Knotts (Salve!)
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To: NYer
Thanks so much NYer! Now I have one more good reason to go back to Rome.
17 posted on 04/14/2004 4:48:42 AM PDT by k omalley
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To: The_Reader_David
Um . . . can we have that church back? Just look at it, it's obviously one of ours.

That yours and ours tussel between the Orthodox and Latin churches must end if we need put up a united front againstIslam
18 posted on 04/17/2004 4:41:59 AM PDT by Cronos (W2K4!)
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Note: this topic was posted 4/12/2004. Thanks NYer.

19 posted on 05/01/2014 4:43:55 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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