The Basilica of Saint Praxedes (Santa Prassede) is my favorite place in Rome. We saw the mosaics of the apse here, plus there’s a great side chapel, called the Chapel of St. Zeno and wonderful designs on the marble floor.
The Chapel of St. Zeno was built as a funeral chapel for the mother of Pope Paschal I. Its walls and vaulted ceilings are covered with Byzantine-style mosaics. Rome was never part of the Byzantine Empire, so this is a great example of cultural diffusion — the exchange of ideas from one society to another. Outside view of the Chapel: the outer arc shows Christ in the center, with the twelve apostles to his left and right sides. The inner arc shows Madonna with baby Jesus and two saints to her left and right — “perhaps St. Valentine and St. Zeno — and then four more saints on each side” according to the church’s guidebook. Moses, who led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt, and the prophet Elias are in the upper left and right hand corners. Jesus and four angels in the Chapel’s vaulted ceiling. Detail of one of the angels. I love the different colors in her hair. Detail of Jesus, holding a scroll as he is in the apse mosaic.
The geometric patterns on the floor art straight out of Islamic art, which relies on such designs because images of Allah and the prophet Muhammed are prohibited. They also felt like those designs that you should walk along to meditate. What a place!