Christ the Lamb in Early Christian Art


Mausoleo di Santa Constanza, Rome. Christ between Peter and Paul (or Moses and Elijah ?) Mosaic, 4th c. Four lambs symbolize four Evangelists (?). Christ stands on a hill from which flow four rivers of paradise. Inscription on the scroll: Domini(?)s pacem dat.

Biblical commentary: "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Rev. 7: 17.

San Giovanni in Laterano baptistery. Chapel of St. John the Baptist. Lamb. Ceiling mosaic, early 5th c.
Santi Cosma e Damiano, Rome. 1. Apse and chancel. Mosaic, 6th c.

2. Christ the Lamb flanked by apostles represented as lambs. Apse mosaic, 6th c. (detail).


Santi Cosma e Damiano, Rome. Christ as the apocalyptic Lamb with the cross on the throne surrounded with seven candlesticks. Chancel mosaic, 6th c.

Biblical commentary: "And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." Rev. 1: 12-13.

Santa Prassede, Rome. Apostles as lambs left from Christ. Apse mosaic, 9th c. (detail).
  Santa Prassede, Rome. Christ the apocalyptic Lamb. Chancel mosaic, 9th c. Cf. the mosaic of Santi Cosma e Damiano above.
  Santa Prassede, Rome. Chapel of St. Zeno. Christ the Lamb standing on a hill. Four rivers of paradise. Christ is flanked by four deer. Mosaic, 9th c.

In early Christian art and homiletic tradition deer symbolized catechumens coming to the waters of baptism.

Santa Cecilia, Trastevere, Rome. Christ flanked by St Paul, St Cecilia, pope Pascal I bearing the model of the church (left); St Peter, St. Valerian and St. Agatha (right). Apse mosaic, ca. 820 AD.
  Santa Cecilia, Trastevere, Rome. Apse mosaic (detail), ca. 820 AD. Christ the Lamb standing on the hill out of which flow four rivers of paradise. Christ's blue halo is marked by Chi-Ro.
Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome. Christ on the throne with Mary. Frieze: the Lamb of God and twelve apostles. Mosaic attributed to Pietro Cavallini, ca. 1290-91 (?).
  Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome. Christ the Lamb. Frieze mosaic, 13th c. (detail).
San Clemente, Rome. Apse mosaic, 12th c. Christ the Lamb flanked by 12 apostles as lambs.
  Saint Saba, Rome. Christ the Lamb flanked by 12 apostles.
  San Paolo fuori le mura, atrium. Two lambs. Medalion, 19th c (?).