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Medieval Art Vocabulary Words - Lecture 1 - 8

Terms in this set (92)

in Western architecture: First period, to ad 313. These domus ecclesiae ("meeting houses" [ecclesia, "assembly, meeting"]) were private homes placed at the disposal of communities by well-to-do members.


Domus ecclesia is a term that has been applied to the earliest Christian places of worship, churches that existed in private homes. Archaeological research in the twentieth century has added much information about these early pre-Constantine Christian churches.

The first mention of a house church is St. Paul the Apostle's greeting in Romans 16:3-5 to Prisca and Aquila, in which he also "greet[s] the church that is in their house" (KJV). The Gospel of Mark tells of visits to the home of Ss. Peter and Andrew, where Christ taught the apostles privately. In the fourth century, the pilgrim Egeria described her visit to Peter's house, noting that the house of the "prince of the apostles" has been turned into a church. Archaeological explorations during the past hundred years have provided proof of the accuracy of her observations, revealing the progression of changes to Peter's home, from a house then to a house church, until a basilica was built over the home in the fifth century.

As the use of Peter's house expanded from a meeting room to a more formal house church, archaeological exploration has revealed many examples of the progression of simple "churches" to dedicated house churches during the second and third centuries. Evidence of these house churches have been found throughout the Mediterranean area: in Greece and Rome, on the island of Delos, and in Dion in southern Macedonia, for example.










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