* 4 cent. Syn.
* 1 cent. Syn.
* Domus Eccl.
* 2000 - 2003
* The House
* Pictures 1
* Pictures 2
* Pictures 3
* Pictures 4
INSULA SACRA - The Domus-Ecclesia
Following an unbroken sequence of occupation, the insula sacra underwent major changes in the late fourth century A.D. First of all, insula n. 1 was set apart from the rest of the village through the construction of an impressive enclosure wall encompassing a perimeter of 112.25 m. The area enclosed by the wall was roughly square in ground plan and was entered from two doorways respectively near the SW and NW corners of the enclosure wall. An additional screen wall in a NS direction departed from the SW entrance.
The transformed house of Peter in a "domus-ecclesiae"
The construction of the enclosure wall brought about the destruction of some
houses. At the same time room n. 1 became the focal point of the reshaped
insula sacra and underwent significant changes. To start with, the inner space
of room n. 1, measuring 5.80 by 6.45 m, received a new polychrome pavement. An
arch spanning from N to S across the middle of the chamber was added in order
to subdivide the space in two units. The N wall of the room was rebuilt,
whereas the remaining three walls were left standing. A new roof made up of
strong mortar replaced the old one. Finally an E atrium with white plastered
pavement and a NE side-chamber were added. Both the inner walls and the newly
built arch in the centre of the room were plastered.
Graffiti from the domus-ecclesiae
Different colours were used to decorate the plastered walls, namely red, pink,
brick-red, yellow, dark brown, green, blue and white. The geometric decoration
is made up of rectangular panels, lozenges, circles, floral crosses etc. Floral
motifs are also recognisable, such as branches, small trees, flowers, figs and
pomegranates. Apparently no human or animal representations were allowed.
Metal hooks found in the polychrome pavement of the "domus-ecclesiae"
The fourth century domus-ecclesia was described by Egeria in these terms: "In Capharnaum autem ex domo apostolorum principis ecclesia facta est, cuius parietes usque hodie ita stant, sicut fuerunt", i. e. "The house of the prince of the Apostles (St. Peter) in Capharnaum was changed into a church; the walls, however, (of that house) are still standing as they were (in the past)". This precious passage of Egeria reached us through Petrus Diaconus (1137) and is important for several reasons. Egeria does not speak of a common church, but of a house changed into a church. To stress this point, Egeria underlines the fact that the walls of the old house were still standing as in the past. Secondly, this change of a private house into a place for religious gatherings took place in the past (facta est). Finally the house converted into a church was nothing less than the house of the prince of the Apostles, i. e. of Simon Peter. Nobody can miss the striking accuracy of Egeria's description in the light of our archaeological discoveries.
© copyright 2001. Text written by Fr. Stanislao Loffreda ofm. Reproduction, retrieval or redistribution of this material is not permitted without prior permission of the author reachable at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (email@example.com)