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Photo of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura

Triumphal Arch Mosaic

Detail of Byzantine mosaic on the east side of the triumphal arch, which was over the (now-destroyed) apse at the altar end of the 6th-century church. It depicts Christ seated on a blue globe, flanked on one side by Pope Pelagius II holding a model of the church and St. Lawrence holding a book with the words DISPERSIT DEDIT PAVPERIBVS ("He scattered and gave to the poor"). The other side shows St. Paul, St. Hippolytus holding a martyr's crown, and St. Stephen holding a book with the words he spoke at his martyrdom. The spandrels are filled with representations of the holy cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The inscription on the arch reads: MARTYRIVM FLAMMIS OLIM LEVVITA SVBISTI IVRE TVIS TEMPLIS LVX BENERANDA REDIT, "You once submitted, Deacon, to martyrdom by flames; the sublime light duly returns to your sanctuary." Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (Saint Lawrence outside the Walls), Rome, Italy.

Photo © Holly Hayes.