Catacomb of Santissimi Pietro e Marcellino
Date 4th century CE
Movement Early Christian
Medium Wall painting
Located at Rome, Italy
Christian funerary traditions were important, given the religion’s emphasis on salvation after death. Catacombs were an important facet, but were not given the same emphasis as other cultures, as they were not visited or seen often, and therefore were not meant to raise a family’s social status. This painted ceiling highlights the fact that Christian and Jewish artists, at least initially, were cautious of depicting sacred individuals, as this was forbidden in the Bible; therefore, symbolism is heavily employed. A shepherd carrying a sheep (Jesus) is placed at the ceiling’s center; the story of Jonah, who is often seen as the premonition of Jesus, occupies the four surrounding lunettes, and worshipers are placed in the spaces in between.