Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine
The Basilica of Saint Sabina at the Aventine is located in one of the seven hills on which, according to the legend, Rome was built. The temple was constructed in a place where previously the house of the Roman matron Sabina had been, near a temple of Juno. Later, Sabina was declared a martyr of Christian religion.
Saint Sabina was born in the 1st century in Rome. According to the legend, she was the wealthy and respected Roman patrician Senator Valentinus' widow. She became a Christian in the late period of her life together with her slave, Saint Serapia of Antioch. Both women went to the catacombs to meet with other prosecuted christians by Romans. Once, she were slipping out to catacombs, Romans captured them. She revealed her faith while she had to bury a massacred body of Serapia who had been caught and whipped to death. Sabina was cast into prison, but thanks to the fact she was a noble and the law demanded a just trial that would not humiliate her, she was sentenced to death by beheading by a sword. Iconography depicts her with three attributes: a palm branch, a book and a crown. She is a patron of Rome, children and housekeepers and she is venerated every 29th August.
The Basilica of Saint Sabina is a monumental building with three naves without a transept. There is a decorated apse, parallel to the naves. The wood door in the main entrance is the original one from the 5th century, with biblical scenes depicted on it. In the 10th century a portico was added, as well as a campanile. Fragments of Roman architectural decorations representing symbols from the beginning of Christianity can be found inside the basilica. In the 13th century the church was donated to the newly established Order of Dominicans. For a period of time, Saint Dominic lived there and today it is possible to visit his cell.
Inside the church, two rows of Corinthian columns divide the naves. All columns are supporting a simple arcade decorated with geometrical patterns. The central one is more wide and high than the others and for that it allowed to create windows to illuminate the church inside. Light gets into the church by those monumental windows, which due to their construction cause outrageous luminous effects. Additionally, there are small windows in the aisles. The presbytery is separated from the nave with a sculptured partition. The ornamental elements used inside the basilica are very simple and classical but their simplicity doesn't deprive its majestuosity.
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Early Christian Architecture