Bust of Christ, Commodilla Cemetary (4th cent.)

This fresco of the bust of Christ with an alpha and omega is the first known representation of Jesus with a beard; it dates from the late 4th century. It was discovered in the Cemetary or Catacomb of Commodilla on the Ostian Way in Rome.

Commodilla is an unknown Christian matron, on whose property were buried Felix and Adauctus, martyrs of the persecution of Diocletian. The cemetary was discovered in 1905.

Also of interest in this cemetary is Christian graffiti that includes the only epigraph in Rome written in runes, the ancient Germanic alphabet. It was evidently carved by a pilgrim who had come from Central Europe to visit the martyria.

Sources

  1. Early Roman Christian Cemetaries - Catholic Encyclopedia
  2. Danilo Mazzoleni, "Ancient Graffiti in Roman Catacombs." L'Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English, 9 February 2000, page 6.

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Bust of Christ, Commodilla Cemetary
bearded Christ, catacomb, alpha, omega