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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/461

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Bk. I. Ch. III.
429
CIRCULAR CHURCHES
 

CHAPTER III.

CIRCULAR ROMANESQUE CHURCHES.

CONTENTS.

Circular Churches—Tomb of Sta. Costanza—Churches at Perugia, Nocera, Ravenna, Milan—Secular Buildings.

IN addition to the Pagan basilicas and temples, from which the arrangements of so many of the Christian edifices were obtained, the tombs of the Romans formed a third type, from which the forms of a very important class of churches were derived.

The form which these buildings retained, so long as they remained mere sepulchres appropriated to Pagan uses, has been already described (pp. 342 to 346). That of Cæcilia Metella and those of Augustus and Hadrian were what would now be called "chambered tumuli;" originally the sepulchral chamber was infinitesimally small as compared with the mass, but we find these being gradually enlarged till we approach the age of Constantine, when, as in the tombs of the Tossia Family, that called the Tomb of Helena (Woodcut No. 226) and many others of the same age, they became miniature Pantheons. The central apartment was all in all; the exterior was not thought of. Still they were appropriated to sepulchral rites, and these only, so long as they belonged to Pagan Rome. The case was different when they were erected by the Christians. No association could be more appropriate than that of these sepulchral edifices, to a religion nursed in persecution, and the apostles of which had sealed their faith with their blood as martyrs; and when the Sacrament for the dying and the burial service were employed, it was in these circular churches that it was performed. But besides the viaticum for the departing Christian, the Church provided the admission sacrament of baptism for those who were entering into communion, and this was, in early days at least, always performed in a building separate from the basilica. It would depend on whether marriage was then considered as a sacrament or a civil contract, whether it was celebrated in the basilica or the church: but it seems certain that the one was used almost exclusively as the business place of the community, the other as the sacramental temple of the sect. This appears always to have been the case, at least when the two forms existed together, as they