Santa Sabina. Peter of Illyria. 422-432 C.E.
The Church of Santa Sabina was an early Christian church made in the design of the Roman basilica. Its interior consists of long open area called the nave running down the middle of the building from the entrance up to the apse. On either side of the nave are colonnades, long rows of columns, all in the corinthian order and separated by arches. Besides the colonnades further from the nave are aisles, long and narrow open sections. The apse consists of a semicircular niche set into the wall at the front of the church, and the top of the apse is a fresco depicting religious iconography. Directly in front of the apse is the alter, an area that serves as the focal point of the church. Along the walls above the colonnades and on the wall of the apse are many windows, called chlestories. The building itself is mostly rectangular shaped although taller above the nave and with various protrusions and the semicircular apse jutting out. This is unlike the cross shape of latter church designs, as the building lacked a transept. The church was made out of brick and stone and with a wooden roof.
The primary function of the church overall was to serve as a site of prayer and worship for Christians. This is reinforced by the use of chlestory lighting allowed by the many windows of the church. Light serves as a symbol of divinity, which makes it appropriate for a religious setting. The apse would be where the ministers would stay to deliver their sermons and conduct various other religious activities. The large amount of room provided by the nave and aisles would allow churchgoers plenty of room to stay and move around.
The Church of Santa Sabina was built roughly a hundred years after emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome, and thus the architects of the Santa Sabina took direct inspiration from the Roman Basilica for the design of the church, as no other design had been created yet especially for Christian churches and the Roman Basilica had been the most prominently used design for public and religious spaces up to that point. Sabina, who the church was named after, was believed to have been a wealthy Christian woman from the 5th century who owned a house church that the Church of Santa Sabina would be extended from. The credit for founding the church is given to a priest named Peter from the region of Illyria, which was around the area of the former Yugoslavia. The church was founded on Aventine Hill on top of the ruins of the Temple of Juno Regina, and many of the materials used in the construction of the church were taken from this temple.
Harris, Beth, and Steven Zucker. “Basilica of Santa Sabina, Rome.” Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/early-europe-and-colonial-americas/medieval-europe-islamic-world/v/santa-sabina-rome.
“Sacred Destinations.” Santa Sabina – Rome, Italy, www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-santa-sabina.