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Apostles Saint Paul's side


Apse, 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.)


Female 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 archaeology 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.


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Taken on September 6, 2010