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Early Christians: The house of St. John and St. Paul

2009-07-24

Few people know that under this church there is a complex were these 4th century saints lived and are buried. They were court officials during the reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate.


The two saints were brothers. When the emperor’s daughter gave them a great fortune to be distributed among the poor, he invited them to his court.

John and Paul refused the invitation because the emperor had rejected God. Julian gave them a ten day ultimatum to worship Jupiter if they wanted to save their lives. They gave away the fortune and were later decapitated.

Their house was found in 1887. Today only some parts are still preserved due to the basilica’s construction. A total of 20 views can be seen from several levels.

This is the home of a an upper-class Christian family called a domus, around which a small Christian community had been formed. It dates to the 2nd century, has two floors, an area designated for baths, and a porch.  

All the rooms were joined together at the will of one of its landlords during the 3rd century. Another floor was added and decorated with frescoes.

One of the most important frescoes is the one of the praying figure, a person with raised arms. Many consider it one of the first images of Christians.

The paintings in the ladder from the second half of the 4th century are also spectacular.
 

There’s also a fresco with marine motifs and many that make reference to the seasons. 

Some parts of this house were visited in medieval times. That’s why they built an oratory, used between the 8th and 12th century. In it, they represented an image of Christ crucified, clothed, the way they depicted him at that time, and it’s still conserved.


PVB