Seaports and Triumphal Arches

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Dom Crossan examines an altar in Ostia Antica, the ancient seaport of Rome.
We started out the day with a visit to Ostia, the ancient seaport of Rome, which is now several miles inland (due to shift in the Tiber River, which is very muddy and deposit a lot of silt each year). I knew about Ostia, but not that it had been buried in river sediment for a couple of millennia before being excavated. There are also wonderful mosaics, especially from the trading stalls that surrounded the market…imagine the wide array of products from across the empire that were traded at Ostia.

I later split off from the group to spend some extra time examining the Arch of Constantine, the first Christian emperor. The arch commemorated his triumph after the victory over his co-emperor Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. According to legend, at this battle, Constantine had a vision of the letters chi (X) and rho (P), which in Greek are the first two letters of the word christos or Christ. Sometimes you will still see those two Greek letters superimposed in churches (a long P running vertically through the center of the X). And you might also see the letters IHS in churches, which stand for In Hoc Signo vincat or “in this sign, I win,” which according to legend, Constantine had emblazoned on the shields of his troops, along with the chi-rho.
Funnily enough, there was no Christian iconography on column. (He hadn’t come out as a Christian yet…and the worst persecution of Christians in Rome had just ended.)

And because the photos from last night’s post dinner walk to St. Peter’s Square turned out well, I’m including one as well. Loving being in Rome. Enjoying Marcus and Dom’s lectures each evening. Trying to soak up all the knowledge and sites we’re visiting. Tomorrow off to the Colosseum.