Catacomb of Santissimi Pietro e Marcellino

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.