The Apsidal Arch at Santa Maria Maggiore



5th century
Mosaic
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

What was designed as an apsidal arch became a "triumphal arch" when the apse was moved back to make space for a transept. Above is the center of the arch, with St. Peter (left) and St. Paul flanking an image of a throne with the cross representing the person of Christ.

Even at this early date, SS. Peter and Paul have the faces artists will use ever after: a square beard for Peter and a pointy beard for the Paul, who is balding from the front of his head. Behind them, as if arranged on a low balcony, are symbolic representations of the evangelists (left to right): Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John.

The following photographs of the arch are available:

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke