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Bill Thayer

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Pagan and Christian Inscriptions
in the Church of S. Maria in Trastevere


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Part of the N wall of the porch. The other walls are like it, only more so.

Many of the older churches in Rome have a lapidary collection by the entrance: the mix of stone you see above is very typical. We can recognize on the far left the center of the front of a Roman strigil sarcophagus, bits of mostly Late Antique tombstones on either side of Pope Clement XI's framed commemorative plaque, part of a monumental inscription from the Macellum Liviae below that, with a long piece of architectural ornament from something equally large, and at the bottom the characteristic knotwork of the high Middle Ages. Most of these fragments of stone were taken up from the floor inside the church in the late 19c: the older paleochristian inscriptions, however, originally come from various catacombs outside the City, and were brought to that floor in the Renaissance.

Also, in the upper left corner, a video camera to keep us behaving properly: the porch of another Roman church, after all, was bombed by the Mafia and severely damaged as recently as 1993.

Here are a pair of inscriptions from one of the other walls. Once you turn that Latin into English, there's always a story:


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The tombstone of Brumasia, a Christian couple's baby girl.


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The pagan tombstone of Aulus Larcius, a minor functionary who seems to have had it rough in life.


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Page updated: 28 Aug 01