VIDEO: Archaeologists Uncover Clues About Women in Early Christianity: Santa Sabina Basilica
Story by Carina O. Prestes
In the fifth century, the priest Peter Illyria built the Santa Sabina Basilica in Rome over a former house church. Above the door of the main entrance there is a mosaic portraying two women: one is identified as representing the church of the circumcised and the other as representing the church of the Gentiles. Both are portrayed with the familiar hand gestures displayed by religious teachers of that era and hold a large open book (likely the Bible). Such iconography was typically used to identify bishops. In addition, the woman representing the church of the Gentiles holds a cloth over her left arm, which only priests used when serving the eucharist.