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BASILICA

of a basilica must always have been heavy and unattractive. S. Apollinare in Classe at Ravenna (fig. 8) affords a typical example. The campanile is a later addition. Within, apart from the beautiful mosaic decoration, a fine effect was produced by the arch of triumph and the apse, which terminated the nave and dominated the whole vast space of the interior.

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Fig. 9.—Façade of old St Peter's, Rome.
Basilica 10.png
Fig. 10.—Ground-Plan of the original
Basilica of St Peter's at Rome.
a, Porch.     h, Altar, protected by a
b, Atrium.             double screen.
c, Cloisters.    i, Bishop's throne in
d, Narthex.       centre of the apse.
e, Nave.                   k, Sacristy.
f, f, Aisles.     l, Tomb of Honorius.
g, Bema.  m, Church of St Andrew.

To pass from general description to individual churches, the first place must be given, as the earliest and grandest examples of the type, to the world-famous Roman basilicas; those of St Peter, St Paul and St John Lateran, "omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput." It is true that no one of these exists in its original form, Old St Peter's having been entirely removed in the 16th century to make room for its magnificent successor; and both St Paul's and St John Lateran having been greatly injured by fire, and the last named being so completely modernized as to have lost all interest. Of the two former, however, we possess drawings and plans and minute descriptions, which give an accurate conception of the original buildings. To commence with St Peter's, from the illustrations annexed (figs. 9, 10, 11) it will be seen that the church was entered through a vast colonnaded atrium, 212 ft. by 235 ft., with a fountain in the centre,—the atrium being preceded by a porch mounted by a noble flight of steps. The church was 212 ft. wide by 380 ft. long; the nave, 80 ft. in width, was six steps lower than the side aisles, of which there were two on each side. The four dividing colonnades were each of twenty-two Corinthian columns. Those next the nave supported horizontal entablatures. The inner colonnades bore arches, with a second clerestory. The main clerestory walls were divided into two rows of square panels containing mosaics, and had windows above. The transept projected beyond the body of the church,—a very unusual arrangement. The apse, of remarkably small dimensions, was screened off by a double row of twelve wreathed columns of Parian marble. The pontifical chair was placed in the centre of the curve of the apse, on a platform raised several steps above the presbytery. To the right and left the seats of the cardinals followed the line of the apse. At the centre of the chord stood the high altar beneath a ciborium, resting on four pillars of porphyry. Beneath the altar was the subterranean chapel, the centre of the devotion of so large a portion of the Christian world, believed to contain the remains of St Peter; a vaulted crypt ran round the foundation wall of the apse in which many of the popes were buried. The roof showed its naked beams and rafters.


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Fig. 11.—Sectional view of the old Basilica of St Peter,
before its destruction in the 16th century.


Basilica 12.png
Fig. 12.—Ground-Plan of
St Paul's, Rome, before its
destruction by fire.
a, Narthex.          d, Altar.
b, Nave.            e, Bema.
c, c, Side aisles.  f, Apse.
Basilica 13.png
Fig. 13.—Section of the Basilica of St Paul, Rome.

The basilica of St Paul without the walls, dedicated 324 A.D., rebuilt 388-423, remained in a sadly neglected state, but substantially unaltered, till the disastrous fire of 1823, which reduced the nave to a calcined ruin. Its plan and dimensions (figs. 12, 13) were almost identical with those of St Peter's.

The only parts of the modernized five-aisled basilica of St John Lateran (of which we have a plan in its original state, Agincourt, pl. lxxiii. No. 22) which retain any interest, are the double-vaulted aisle which runs round the apse, a most unusual arrangement, and the baptistery. The latter is an octagonal building standing some little distance from the basilica to the south. Its roof is supported by a double range of columns, one above the other, encircling the baptismal basin sunk below the floor.

Of the three-aisled basilicas the best example is the Liberian or S. Maria Maggiore dedicated 365, and reconstructed 432 A.D. Its internal length to the chord of the apse is 250 ft. by 100 ft. in breadth. The Ionic pillars of grey granite, uniform in style, twenty on each side, form a colonnade of great dignity and beauty, unfortunately broken towards the east by intrusive arches opening into chapels. The clerestory, though modern, is excellent in style and arrangement. Corinthian pilasters divide the windows, beneath which are very remarkable mosaic pictures of subjects from Old Testament history, generally supposed