Susanna and the Elders Fresco

Fresco of Susanna and the Elders, third-century Greek catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, Italy.

Priscilla was an early Roman Christian who donated an old quarry from her estate as a burial ground for her Christian community. Over five miles of tunnels and over 40,000 niche tombs have been carved out of the tufa stone. A wealth of early Christian paintings cover the walls of the Catacombs of Priscilla. This fresco refers to the story of Susanna and the Elders in the Book of Daniel. Early catacomb paintings of Susanna focus on the vindication of Susanna and set her as an example of fidelity. Later Renaissance painters preferred to depart from the biblical text and generally painted Susanna as wicked temptress or sly seductress.


Underground passages used for burial and religious practice; originally referred specifically to the catacombs beneath Rome.

A woman who uses her sexuality to entice men to sin; often used as a cautionary figure in the biblical book of Proverbs.

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