EARLY CHRISTIAN SCULPTOR, Italian
(active 630s in Rome)

Capital

630s
Mosaic
Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura, Rome

The seventh-century basilica Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura was built on a sloping site on the Via Nomentana above the catacombs that contain the remains of the martyr St Agnes (d 304). Although the basilica was later restored by Pope Symmachus (reg 498–514), it subsequently fell into decay and the ruined buildings were eventually replaced by Pope Honorius I (reg 625–38) to accommodate the pilgrims who flocked to the site. The new church, several metres away from the original church and partly built into the 2nd-century catacombs below, was developed from a small chapel above the relics of St Agnes. (Her bones are said to be authentic although her head is supposedly enshrined in the Baroque church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, also in Rome.)

The majority of the construction took place during the Byzantine rule of Rome and shows many Eastern stylistic influences. The nave and aisles are separated by 14 ancient Roman columns. There is a narthex for the catechumens, and a matroneum, or separate upper gallery for women, was built in over the west end in 620.

The photo shows one of the re-used antique Corinthian capitals.