Beneath the centre of the transept is the subterranean church of the Nativity (Vogué, Les églises de la Terre Sainte, p. 46).

Constantinople preserved till recently a basilican church of the 5th century, that of St John Studios, 463, now a ruin. It had a nave and side aisles divided by columns supporting a horizontal entablature, with another order supporting arches forming a gallery above. There was the usual apsidal termination. The chief difference between the Eastern and Roman basilicas is in the galleries. This feature is very rare in the West, and only occurs in some few examples, the antiquity of which is questioned at Rome but never at Ravenna. It is, on the other hand, a characteristic feature of Eastern churches, the galleries being intended for women, for whom privacy was more studied than in the West (Salzenberg, Altchrist. Baudenkmale von Constantinople).

Fig. 20. Plan of church of the Nativity, Bethlehem.

Fig. 20. - Plan of church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. 1, Narthex; 2, nave; 3, 3, aisles.

Other basilican churches in the East which deserve notice are those of the monastery of St Catherine on Mt. Sinai built by Justinian, that of Dana between Antioch and Bir of the same date, St Philip at Athens, Bosra in Arabia, Xanthus in Lycia, and the very noble church of St Demetrius at Thessalonica. Views and descriptions of most of these may be found in Texier and Pullan's Byzantine Architecture, Couchaud's Choix d'églises byzantines, and the works of the count de Vogué. In the Roman province of North Africa there are abundant remains of early Christian churches, and S. Gsell, Les Monuments antiques de l'Algérie, has noticed more than 130 examples. Basilicas of strictly early Christian date are not now to be met with in France, Spain or Germany, but the interesting though very plain "Basse oeuvre" at Beauvais may date from Carolingian times, while Germany can show at Michelstadt in the Odenwald an unaltered basilica of the time of Charles the Great. The fine-columned basilica of St Mauritius, near Hildesheim, dates from the 11th century, and the basilican form has been revived in the noble modern basilica at Munich.

Fig. 21. Early Christian Basilica at Silchester.

Fig. 21. - Plan of early Christian Basilica of about the 4th century at Silchester, Hants.

(From Archaeologia, liii.)

England can show more early Christian survivals than France or Germany. In the course of the excavation of the Roman city of Silchester, there was brought to light in 1892 the remains of a small early Christian basilica dating from the 4th century of which fig. 21 gives the plan (Archaeologia, vol. liii.). It will be noted that the apse is flanked by two chambers, of the nature of sacristies, cut off from the rest of the church, and known in ecclesiastical terminology as prothesis and diaconicon. These features, rare in Italy, are almost universal in the churches of North Africa and Syria. Another existing English basilica of early date is that of Brixworth in Northamptonshire, probably erected by Saxulphus, abbot of Peterborough, c. A.D. 680. It consisted of a nave divided from its aisles by quadrangular piers supporting arches turned in Roman brick, with clerestory windows above, and a short chancel terminating in an apse, outside which, as at St Peter's at Rome, ran a circumscribing crypt entered by steps from the chancel.

At the west end was a square porch, the walls of which were carried up later in the form of a tower.

Fig. 22. Ground Plan of the original Cathedral at Canterbury.

Fig. 22. - Ground-Plan of the original Cathedral at Canterbury, as restored by Willis.

A, High altar. B, Altar of our Lord. C, C, Steps to crypt. D, Crypt. E, F, Chorus cantorum. G, Our Lady's altar. H, Bishop's throne. K, South porch with altar. L, North porch containing school. M, Archbishop Odo's tomb.

The first church built in England under Roman influence was the original Saxon cathedral of Canterbury. From the annexed ground-plan (fig. 22), as conjecturally restored from Eadmer's description, we see that it was an aisled basilica, with an apse at either end, containing altars standing on raised platforms approached by steps. Beneath the eastern platform was a crypt, or confessio, containing relics, "fabricated in the likeness of the confessionary of St Peter at Rome" (Eadmer). The western apse, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, contained the bishop's throne. From this and other indications Willis thinks that this was the original altar end, the eastern apse being a subsequent addition of Archbishop Odo, c. 950, the church having been thus turned from west to east, as at the already-described basilica of S. Lorenzo at Rome. The choir, as at S. Clemente's, occupied the eastern part of the nave, and like it was probably enclosed by breast-high partitions. There were attached porches to the north and south of the nave. The main entrance of the church was through that to the south.

At this suthdure, according to Eadmer, "all disputes from the whole kingdom, which could not legally be referred to the king's court, or to the hundreds and counties, received judgment." The northern porch contained a school for the younger clergy.


Vitruvius, De Architectura, v. 1, vi. 3, 9; Huelsen, The Roman Forum (1906); Mau, Pompeii: its Life and Art; C. Lange, Haus und Halle; Canina, Edifizii di Roma Antica; Ciampini, Vetera Monimenta; Seroux d'Agincourt, L'Histoire de l'art par les monumens; Bunsen and Plattner, Beschreibung der Stadt Rom; Gutensohn and Knapp, Basiliken des christlichen Roms; Zestermann, Die antiken u. die christlichen Basiliken; Hübsch, Die altchristlichen Kirchen; Messmer, über den Ursprung, etc., der Basilica; Letarouilly, Edifices de Rome moderne; Von Quast, Altchristliche Bauwerke von Ravenna; Texier and Pullan, Byzantine Architecture; Vogué, Eglises de la Terre Sainte; Syrie Centrale, Architecture, etc.; Couchaud, Choix d'églises byzantines; Dehio und von Bezold, Die kirchliche Baukunst des Abendlandes; Holtzinger, Die altchristliche Architectur in systematischer Darstellung; Kraus, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst; Leclercq, Manuel d'archéologie chrétienne (Paris, 1907).

(E. V.; G. B. B.)