* 4 cent. Syn.
* 1 cent. Syn.
* Domus Eccl.
* 2000 - 2003
* The House
* Pictures 1
* Pictures 2
* Pictures 3
* Pictures 4
INSULA SACRA - The Octagonal Church
the second half of the fifth century a bold project was carried out in the area
delimited by the fourth century enclosure wall, namely the domus-ecclesia and
all the structures of the insula sacra were buried under a fill, and an
octagonal church was erected on a raised level. The Byzantine church was built
according to a pattern completely different from the previous domus-ecclesia. A
small E apse marked the new orientation. In order to create a direct approach
to the octagonal church, several private houses along the outer W side of the
enclosure wall were dismantled. For the same purpose, the W portion of the
enclosure wall was cut down to the average level of the mosaic floor of the
Excavating under the Octagonal Byzantine Church
In a second phase a baptismal font was added in the middle of the E apse. The
motif of a peacock, symbol of immortality, dominated the mosaic floor of the
The Octagonal Byzantine Church
Actually the planning of a church of octagonal shape was dictated by a twofold preoccupation; it was meant to preserve the fourth century enclosure wall, and especially to indicate the exact location of St. Peter's house. As a matter of fact, the foundations of the central octagon were set exactly upon the walls of that special square room (room n. 1) attributed to the house of St. Peter. It is true that pilgrims were no longer able to see that venerated house buried under the central octagon. Yet the tradition about the house of St. Peter was not lost. A pilgrim from Piacenza who visited Capharnaum around 570 A.D. wrote: "Item venimus in Capharnaum in domo beati Petri, quae est modo basilica", i. e.: "We came to Capharnaum in St. Peter's house, which at present is a basilica".
© 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)