The Sacrifice of Melchizedek

5th century, with medieval and modern restorations
Nave, Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

In Genesis 14:14-20 the priest-king Melchizedek makes a sacrificial offering of bread and wine. In the image, the wine is in an oversized kantharos, a symbol of immortality inherited from classical Greek and Roman iconography. Christian commentary on Genesis 14 makes Melchizedek a type of Christ, who accordingly is pictured in the upper register.

This is part of the extensive series of Old Testament scenes portrayed in mosaics along the two walls of the nave. Follow this link for links to the others.

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Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.