The mosaics in Aquileia’s Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta
The most ancient polychrome mosaics that decorate the floors of the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, in Aquileia, are 3rd-century illustrations featuring the cosmological symbolism of the complex philosophy and doctrine of Gnosticism – a religious movement that was popular in the Christian world between the 2nd and the 4th centuries.
Other mosaics were added in the 4th century, when the Bishop of Aquileia, Theodor, had an extremely original Paleo-Christian complex built, with two parallel structures, a baptismal font, and living quarters.
Plants, imaginary animals, skies full of constellations – all iconographic allegories inspired by Gnosticism’s exoteric ideals – were represented alongside the Christian images of the Fish, the Good Shepherd, and the Eucharistic Victory.
It all makes for a wonderful floor, where you can walk on art and mystery.