Altar area in the Church of the Rotunda of St. George in Thessaloniki, Greece.
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Title:Altar area in the Church of the Rotunda of St. George in Thessaloniki, Greece

This large rotunda monument was built in 306 CE by the Emperor Galerius, possibly as his mausoleum. Unfinished, Constantine consecrated it as a Christian Church shortly thereafter. Extensive mosaics of precious materials and very high quality covered the interior. Today some of that original beauty remains in the dome area, as restoration proceeds. The photograph that is displayed to the left shows the frescoes that were added in the 9th century.

This church's early history is indicative of the upheaval in the development of Christianity in the 4th century. Galerius, a tetrarch of the Roman Empire who ruled an area which included Greece, persecuted the Christians, issuing an edict that was in place from 303-311, when he retracted it on his deathbed. How ironic that, within a few decades, the rotunda would become a magnificent Christian church. This may be the earliest Christian church building still in existence. [Janina K. Darling, Architecture of GreeceGreenwood, 2004, p. 84-86.]

Building:Church of the Rotunda of St. George

Scripture:Thessalonians 1, 1:1-10
Lectionary links:AProp24
General Subject:Persecution

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Copyright Permission:This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to use and to share the file for non-commercial purposes under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license compatible with this one. For uses other than the above, contact the Divinity Library at
Attribution:Altar area in the Church of the Rotunda of St. George in Thessaloniki, Greece, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 5, 2020]. Original source:
Record Number:54386 Last Updated: 2012-03-29 15:38:09 Record Created: 2010-10-16 11:19:15
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition

Bibliographic Source:Lion Companion to Christian Art
Author:Brown, Michelle
Publisher:Oxford: Lion