The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Early Jewish and Christian Art

What are the Catacombs of Commodilla?

These catacombs were used for Christian burials as early as the fourth century. Smaller loculi, or rectangular niches, held between two or three bodies, but larger (and more expensive) cubicula held the sarcophagi of wealthier families. The cubicula were plastered and painted with Christian imagery. Many of the images found in the Catabombs of Commodilla emphasize the Eucharist, the ritual consumption of bread and wine, the bread and body of Christ. Other popular images include the Good Shepherd and images of Jonah and the Whale. In this story, Jonah was thrown overboard while at sea and was consumed by a whale. Three days later, he was cast back out, unharmed. The story reflects themes of the resurrection as well as rebirth and salvation.


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