The mosaics of Saint Sabinus and the lost labyrinth

In the crypt of the Basilica of San Savino in Piacenza – consecrated in 1107 and later renovated many times over the centuries – has a wonderful black and white floor mosaic from the early 12th century, with medallions that represent the twelve months of the year, the signs of the zodiac and various agricultural activities.

In the part of the church right above the crypt, the presbytery has what is probably a twin to this underground mosaic, representing various figures: Christ holding the moon and the sun in his hands, and the four cardinal virtues symbolized by the judge king (Justice), a chess game (Prudence), men carrying glasses of water (Temperance) and two soldiers (Courage).

Some have interpreted this beautiful work of art as an allegory of the maxim that was once written above a labyrinth, visible until the 17th century: “Hunc Mundum tipice Laberinthus denota iste / intranti largus, redeunti sed nimis artus…”, i.e. “the labyrinth represents our world, wide for those entering it and so narrow for those wishing to leave it…”

Enjoy a selection of images of this unique mosaic.

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The mosaics of Saint Sabinus and the lost labyrinth

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