The Rise of Christianity and Christian Art

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In 313 AD the Emperor Constantine formally recognized the Christian religion. Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, this event affected the way people thought and lived their lives. Had a great impact on how rulers viewed their power and used their powers. Such influence was portrayed in Christian art as we know today.

Although Christianity was initially practiced within Semitic populations of the Roman Empire, by the 4th century A.D the Christian religion had a huge impact to the Greeks and also the early Byzantine Empire. But by this time Christian communities had been established in all the important cities in the Roman Empire. In 313 the next emperor Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the empire. He also granted many privileges to the church, by this time over 1/10 of the population of Rome were Christian and the emperors who succeeded Constantine except for one were Christian. By 379 under the rule of Theodosius I Christianity became the official religion of the empire. Therefore with such power given to this new institution, we have the birth of Christian art. The early Church realized how powerful art was to the Romans at that time and they decided to use such power to inspire and teach, for such tools as visual effect could be only transmitted throw art. One of the other reasons was that at the time most of the population was illiterate. Therefore images from the bible would tell the stories of Christ and the twelve apostles.

The art became very important in the life of the church and Christians. It expressed emotions, told stories and honored the dead. A great example is "The Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, who late 4th century. This piece shows two peacocks facing each other, symbol of the afte...

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...nd matched the style of humanitarian vision of the Franciscans. One of it best works was the frescoes painted for the Arena Chapel, Padua. Its simple designs told the stories of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Most taken from the bible and portray the simples emotion in life like love, joy, sorrow. This was the new representation of Christian art and called or many others to follow his footsteps.

In conclusion we can say that Christian art was influenced by the rise of the Christianity in different historical periods. Each period is associated by a certain style, which characterizes the very differences from each other. On the other hand the Christianity itself was portrayed through art, was the new development of art that gave birth to new developments in the church itself. This balance of powers between art and Christianity is the essence of human spirituality.
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