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Early Christian Chapels in the West: Decoration, Function, and Patronage
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Early Christian Chapels in the West: Decoration, Function, and Patronage (Hardback)

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Synopsis

Chapels were among the important types of buildings that evolved during the first four centuries of organised Christianity in the West. They were originally developed in connection with the cult of the saints, commemorating both their gravesites and their places of martyrdom. But the chapels rapidly found other uses among the ever-expanding Christian population as places of prayer and pilgrimage, and were chosen by the faithful for their own burial beside the saints. With little in the way of contemporary written records, the decorative programme of each chapel is now often the only way to determine the function, patronage, and meaning of the building. Gillian Mackie examines the decorative schemes of the surviving chapels built in Italy and Istria from AD312-740 in the context of numerous chapels known from archaeological sites or from later medieval texts. Using the decoration as the primary source of evidence on the buildings' use and meaning, this survey includes chapels, imperial mausolea, and the oratories of the popes and bishops, from Rome, Milan, Ravenna, and the smaller centres of the upper Adriatic.

The author begins with an overview of the various types, and then discusses several of the most complete monuments in considerable detail. Unique in its scope and approach, Mackie's survey of the functional context of early medieval chapels is the most complete work ever published in its field and will be an important reference work for anyone interested in medieval art and architecture.

Gillian Mackie is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of History in Art at the University of Victoria.

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