Publication details

Vatican Hill in the Time of Conversion. The Phrygianum Neighboring Old Saint Peter’s



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Means of Christian Conversion in Late Antiquity Objects, Bodies, and Rituals. = Convivium Supplementum
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords baptism; Cybele; Early Christian literature; fourth century; Late Ancient Rome; Phrygianum; ritual; Saint Peter’s Basilica; spatiality; taurobolium; Vatican
Description Throughout the fourth century, two religious communities co-existed and conducted their mysteries on the Vatican Hill. Phrygianum hosted the cult of Cybele, the Great Mother of Gods, while St Peter’s Basilica, with its hypothetical baptistery, belonged to the Christian community. Combining the study of material remnants with analysis of literary sources, this article aims to improve understanding of the function and perception of these two ritual spaces and the environment of the Vatican, from modern theories of lived space (H. Lefebvre) and embodied memory (É. Durkheim and R. Rappaport). The materials provide evidence of the perceived space of the Metroac shrine and baptistery, and the conceived space of both taurobolium and baptism. What emerges is how one and the same perceived topographical space on the Vatican differed dramatically in the ways it was conceived and lived in the experience of the followers of Cybele and of Christians.

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