Santa Sabina

Yesterday, we had a site visit at Santa Sabina, up on the Aventine Hill. This church has been around since the 5th century AD, and the hill overlooks Vatican City. We went to mass here two weeks ago, but I didn’t get a chance to blog about it, so this will be a combined blog.

2 weeks ago, Father Dominic Izzo, who from America and is in charge of the North American Dominicans (from my understanding), gave us a tour and said for mass in St. Dominic’s cell. For those of you who haven’t caught on, Providence College is run by the Dominican Order, founded by St. Dominic. It was in Santa Sabina where he lived (we had mass in his room) and prayed. It was also here that Pope Pius V chose to live instead of in the Vatican where popes traditionally live (similar to Pope Francis). He was also a Dominican who chose to wear his Dominican Habit (white robe) when he became Pope instead of their traditional red habits that made them look like Cardinals, which began the trend of the pope wearing white habits. Yesterday, we also visited his room. 

The doors leading into the church are solid wood with carvings on them, still standing in what looks like perfect condition, from 412 AD. Here, on the top left hand corner of the doors, is the earliest depiction of the crucifixion scene, displaying 3 “criminals” (Jesus in the middle) with their arms spread and feet crossed below them. The somewhat strange thing (well, strange to you and I, but not for the 5th centurions), is that there is no cross behind them. There are triangles above them to differentiate the 3 separate individuals, but the figures are kinda floating in mid air. This is because the cross was a sign of crucifixion (duh), but that was a sign of execution. In the 400’s, crosses weren’t accepted in art like they are today. We have come to accept it as a sign of martyrdom or as a sign of Christianity, but, as my teacher described it, at the time, wearing a cross on your necklace would be like wearing an electric chair charm on your necklace. Or a syringe. Or a noose. Because they are known as execution tools, we just don’t do it. Same with those times- crucifixions were still going on, and therefore, weren’t socially acceptable to wear, draw, carve, etc. It was kinda gory. 

After Santa Sabina, we went to the Knights of Malta keyhole next door.  There, you look into a keyhole, and directly in front of you is St. Peter’s Dome. It’s really hard to capture a picture because of the lighting, so I found this one off google:

You can see other images here.



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