In a quiet corner of Rome stands the church of Santa Costanza, which was originally the mausoleum of Constantia and her sister Helena, daughters of the emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-337). The mausoleum was transformed into a baptistery before becoming a church in 1254.
The interior takes the form of a domed central space surrounded by an ambulatory that is made up of 24 pairs of granite columns. The barrel vaulting of the latter is decorated with a series of remarkable mosaics (4th century).
Both Constantia and Helena were interred here. Constantia's monumental porphyry sarcophagus is now on display in the Vatican Museums, Helena's has not survived.
Blogging about Rome,
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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