Descriptions of Saints Portraits in Literary Documents

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At the beginning of the fifth century, Paulinus of Nola, who had commissioned artists to decorate his basilica dedicated to Felix, commended the value of paintings on the walls of churches—sacred scenes as well as portraits of Christ and the saints. He did not believe that the images themselves contained some kind of sanctity and, in fact, called them "empty figures." All the same, he thought that contemplating things would "nurture the believing mind with representations by no means empty* According to his description, his ¿irt program included narrative scenes from the hero stories of the Old Testament, as well as portrayals of the saints' deeds "performed ¡11 Christ's name " Over these paintings, he noted, were captions that identified them. Paulinus admitted that some might think his decoration "unusual " but he defended his artistic program both as a means of competing with the continuing attractions of pagan idols and as a way to draw pilgrims into the church and away from the martyr's tomb, where the customary feasting and drinking might get a little unruly;

This was why we thought it useful to enliven all the houses of Felix with paintings on sacred themes, in the hope that they would excite the interests of the rust its by their attractive appearance, for the sketches are painted in

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