As the church came out of hiding in the fourth century, after years of persecution, works of Christian art began to appear. This can be seen in the beautiful mosaics that survive in the Church of San Vitale of Ravenna, Italy, or in the Cathedral of Monreale in Sicily, or in the illuminations (special ornamental illustrations) found in early manuscripts of the Vatican library. Before mon-archs, lords, and wealthy merchants began to patronize artists during the Renaissance almost all art was religious art, commis-
sioned by and for the church. By the 500s a distinct style of art and architecture had developed in the Byzantine Empire. In the domed churches of Byzantium, tapestries, mosaics, paintings, and murals recounting the life of Christ and the careers of saints and martyrs adorned every surface. This tradition continues to this day in all Orthodox churches.
Was this article helpful?