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aroused not only by images, but also by all the other artistic media as well. Only in isolated cases were pictorial programmes in early Christian baptisteries confined to baptism-related narratives, since their purpose was to encompass the entire spectrum of salvation history. Irrespective of whether a baptistery was a freestanding structure that was visible from afar or was integrated into the church itself, a great deal of effort and expense went into decorating the space with a view to sending an unmistakable message: art and architecture serve as a vehicle for converting non-believers to Christianity.

Post-conversion propaganda fide, or: How to keep the faith

Upon promulgation of the so-called Edict of Milan and Constantine's conversion to Christianity, the Church was faced with a new and wholly unforeseeable situation. Until that time, art and architecture had hardly ever been governed by church policies, and then only in isolated and marginal cases. Had the emperor not resolutely decided to support Christianity, the church would have been forced to continue being an essentially clandestine organisation with an improvised infrastructure. But the fact that Constantine forged ahead with church construction meant that henceforth the Church would benefit from governmental munificence. In fact, Constantine did not initiate his church building programme on his own, but worked together with Church leaders. The first Constantinian church was the cathedral of Rome, S. Giovanni in Laterano (Basilica Constantiniana).39 Constantine then built churches over the burial places of the apostles Peter and Paul, in collaboration with Pope Sylvester, and constructed tributes to local saints such as Agnes, Lawrence, Marcellinus and Peter. Churches were also built at Constantine's behest in Ostia and Albano (near Rome), as well as in Capua and Naples. Constantine's construction programme included the new imperial capitals of Constantinople and Antioch, as well as the cities in the Holy Land most closely associated with Jesus (Jerusalem and Bethlehem). Thanks to Constantine's efforts, all of these cities were graced with new churches that were of architectural and artistic importance.

Did this astonishing achievement respond to a genuine need, or was it the mission of these new buildings to stake out claims and increase church attendance? In the early fourth century, there were far more Christians in

39 S. De Blaauw, Cultus et decor.

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