Rome than in Palestine, where it initially proved necessary to requisition certain loca sancta for Christianity. In this way, Palestine became an even more attractive destination, because the faithful were invited to visit the holy places associated with the various phases of Jesus' life and career in the Holy Land -even if the evidence presented to pilgrims may not always have been wholly persuasive.40 The Church of the Holy Sepulchre took on central importance since it substantiated the creed's assertion of Christ's resurrection with the argument that Jesus' body was invisible. Pilgrims to Bethlehem were shown the grotto in which Mary had given birth to Jesus, and the Church of the Nativity 'proved' that Jesus had existed in the flesh on this earth. The churches that were built over the burial places of various apostles and martyrs were an innovation in that they promoted the desire on the part of the faithful to worship at graves, and made the physicality of the dead and their relics a matter of keen interest.41
Constantine's decision to construct a multi-nave basilica for the cathedral of Rome, as well as for the churches of St Peter and St Paul, had monumental repercussions. Already in the first century, Vitruvius had associated dignitas and venustas with the term 'basilica'.42 The basilica, particularly the five-nave variant, employs the rhetoric of grandiloquence (grandiloquus). In addition, the work and expense necessitated by columns and capitals made the basilica a noticeably imposing and ornate structure. At the same time the ubiquitous marble, as well as the abundant silver religious statuary of Constantinian basilicas, generated positive publicity for imperial munificence and the concept of the House of God. The use of marble columns and capitals placed an extremely heavy financial and organisational burden on patrons. Imperial architects had a predilection for antique columns, which they commandeered from marble dumps and empty or ruined buildings. The carefully chosen construction materials gave rise to a new aesthetic consciousness that was based on the principle of variety (varietas). However, activation of the marble quarries in the eastern Mediterranean region resulted in the construction of numerous basilicas that contained only one type of building material, in accordance with the aesthetic principle of uniformity (unitas).
The process of adapting basilica architecture to the requirements of Christianity necessitated a strict separation between the area set aside for the altar and priest (presbytery) and the space occupied by the congregation. The presbytery was placed either within or in front of the apse; the entrance
40 See further ch. 21, above.
41 See further ch. 22, above.
42 Vitruvius, On architecture 5.1.6.
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