The exquisite mosaics in the semi-dome of the apse of Santa Maria in Trastevere date back to the reign of Pope Innocent II (r. 1130-43).
Sitting side by side on the same throne, Christ tenderly embraces Mary. To their right stand St Peter, St Cornelius, St Julius and St Calepodius, and to their left, St Calixtus, St Lawrence and Innocent II. The pope holds a model of a church.
On the choir arch we see, in addition to the emblems of the four Evangelists, two Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah. Above each prophet is a small caged bird, a curious image that symbolises Christ being imprisoned because of the sins of man ('...christus dominus captus est in peccatis nostris...': Lamentations, 4:20).
The six mosaics (c. 1291) depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary are by the Roman painter and mosaicist, Pietro Cavallini (c.1250-c.1330). The mosaics were commissioned by Bertoldo Stefaneschi, who is depicted in a mosaic being presented to the Virgin and Christ by St Peter.
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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