Elaborate mosaic narrative cycles covered the upper walls, triumphal arch, and apse of basilican churches (see basilica. Some are preserved in Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Pudenziana in Rome and Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna. The use of gold backgrounds heightens the effect of otherworldliness and transcendence. In contrast to paganism, the Christian faith was bound by the authority of sacred writings, and it placed increasing importance on the production of books and their illumination. Some fragments of the biblical text, written in silver and gold on purple vellum and sumptuously illuminated, are still preserved (see illumination). Foremost of these is the Vienna Genesis, a manuscript of the first half of the 6th cent.
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