The Dream of an Emperor

The exhibition will show the transformation of Rome in the fourth century AD from a multi-religious imperial capital full of temples with colossal statues of the emperor into the centre of papal power dominated by churches with crosses. Christianity’s evolution in a relatively short time from a small faith community into the dominant religion, of crucial influence on the development of the Western world.
The show presents precious artefacts. Among the pieces is the renowned fourth-century marble sculpture of The Good Shepherd, a masterpiece from the Vatican Museums, plus Roman mosaics, frescoes, sarcophaguses, paintings and the iconic right hand from one of the colossal statues of Constantine in the Capitoline Museums.

In 312 Emperor Constantine had a dream in which victory over his rival Maxentius was guaranteed if he publicly demonstrated his support for the Christian god. He did and defeated his rival at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Monumental churches were built using pagan architectural models however. public life in Rome became permeated in just a few decades with Christian principles and their expressions. It was a revolution that would exert an enormous influence over the centuries on world religion and culture.