An image for Sunday: Christ the Good Shepherd, fresco from the Catacomb of St Priscilla.
The Catacombs of Rome contain contain the most extensive collection of Christian art from before 400AD. The frescoes are found on the walls and ceiling of the burial chambers. The most common themes are from the Old Testament and are concerned with being preserved or saved: The Three men in the Fiery Furnace, from the Book of Daniel, Noah surviving the Flood, Susanna rescued by Daniel from the elders, Jonah from the belly of the whale and Isaac from sacrifice are frequent subjects. From the New Testament The Raising of Lazarus is found.Such themes reflect the context and are an expression of Christian hope for preservation and salvation. One of the most common additional themes is of Christ, the Good Shepherd, caring for the flock, leading them or carrying them to the place of eternal life. In some way this is a long way from the Gospel passage this week, which presents the second coming of Christ, but at the same time, there is a serene hope and confidence placed in Christ which this fresco from the catacombs expresses.