Oddity of the Day: Jesus Using a Wand

Santa Sabina has door panels that are very old (fifth century, AD 432) and which have some very old versions of standard Christian iconography. Things just aren’t drawn the same way they would be drawn later, and there are more things drawn in terms of ancient pagan or Jewish artwork.

So here’s Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead, multiplying loaves and fishes, and changing water into wine. But on Santa Sabina’s doors, Jesus uses a wand.

Why? Probably because Moses used a staff, and many people and gods of the ancient world bore rods or wands as symbols of their rightful authority. Jesus is the New Moses and He is also God, so Him using a wand is sort of like Him carrying a scepter.

And sure enough, here’s Moses using a wand instead of a staff in a picture of the staves and serpents.

Here’s a video of the doors with the light falling on them, showing all kinds of detail and how they look on the actual church. Pretty nifty! Unfortunately, the guy doesn’t show all the panels in closeup. (I guess he was only interested in certain ones.)

The basilica of Santa Sabina was built on top of an old temple of Juno; its pillars are reused in the basilica. The basilica’s windows are made of translucent selenite instead of glass. This video in Italian shows a lot of details of the church and its surroundings. It also shows it being used as the Station Church for Ash Wednesday. It was given to the Dominicans in the Middle Ages, and St. Thomas Aquinas once taught there.

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Filed under Church, History, Patristics

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