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Mosaics: Santa Maria in Trastevere

Posted on Jul 15, 2009 | 9 comments

I was lucky enough to wander upon a charity concert for Abruzzo happening in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere on Saturday night, where the mosaics were beautifully illuminated and I took this photo. I think people underestimate mosaics as an art form and while Rome isn’t the Italian city classically looked at for mosaics (as opposed to Ravenna or Venice), there are some beautiful examples to be found, such as the mosaics pictured. The church is one of the oldest in Rome and, as happens with many churches here, as been added on to and rebuilt through the centuries. The apse mosaics date from the 12th century and, as is common with this time period, are laid out in a very clear fashion to convey the message to the parish. Remember that people did not read and mosaics, just as stained glass, were used to relay religious stories to the hoards of people who would arrive for mass. The gold background was used both to show wealth but also to enhance lighting. Candles and oil lamps were the only lighting methods available at the time so the gold aided in the reflection of that light. In fact, one of the special things about going to the concert was that the lights were dimmed, giving that lovely “candle lit” glow.


  1. What a beautiful photo of the interior! I was unable to get inside when I was in Rome (it was closed when I went by).

    Anyone interested in mosaics will also find excellent examples also in Palermo (Duomo di Monreale, Cappella Palatina).

  2. wonderful picture! I

  3. Jessica, beautiful. You did it justice. One of my very favorites in Rome. Undergrad phil/rel & minor in art history, mosaic is a major favorite/obsession of mine. So thank you so much. And it's good to know that the fundraising continues.

    You made my day just now. Really.


  4. Beautiful photo. What a great opportunity! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hi guys, glad you enjoyed. It's always nice to happen upon a cool experience like this and have my camera so I can share it with you all!

  6. gorgeous photo. This is one of my favorite churches in Rome.

  7. I love SM in Trastevere! One of the most gorgeous and fabulous churches in Rome. Thanks for the mini-break! 🙂

  8. Ciao NYC – Yes, it's a quite beautiful place no? I really have to get over to Santa Prassede and Santa Pudenziana as well. They have fantastic mosaics. Maybe we can do a field trip!

    Angela – Glad to give you a break!

  9. I am so enjoying getting to see Rome through your eyes! This is so beautiful and I do love that candlelit glow. You must have a very steady hand to have gotten it so crisp in that low light.

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