If the employment of these symbols had a tendency to inspire pride, other observances produced humility of mind, as, for example, the symbolic washing at the fountain.
Basilica , as a term used by canon lawyers and liturgists, is a title assigned by formal concession or immemorial custom to certain more important churches, in virtue of which they enjoy privileges of an honorific character which are not always very clearly defined. Paul-without-the-Walls ), which among other distinctions have a special "holy door" and to which a visit is always prescribed as one of the conditions for gaining the Roman Jubilee.
The old construction of the basilica with an apse was well suited to the service of the altar.
The roofing of the transept together with the apse and portico produced variety in the exterior of the basilica.
Vaulting, in the West, was used only at times in the side aisles ; nothing beyond a flat roof was ventured upon for the very broad middle nave, and often, at the beginning, the rafters of the roof were left uncovered.
One of the long sides of the parallelogram spread out into an apse where legal cases were tried, but it was separated by the width of the ambulatory from the space for merchants (the ancient exchange).
The same writer speaks (VI, viii or v) of half-public basilicas in the houses of distinguished statesmen which served as council-chambers and for the settlement of disputes by arbitration.
These services, which began with the Last Supper , were often held in large rooms in the dwellings of prosperous Christians.
When these facts are considered it cannot be a matter of surprise that as early as the time of Constantine the style and name of the basilica seem to have been in common use for the Christian place of worship.The back wall of the apse and the "arch of triumph", which opened into the transept, were decorated with mosaics.The altar stood in, or before, the apse under a decorated baldacchino ( ciborium ).When there was more space in the length, porticoes were built on the short sides.The middle space was separated by columns from a lower ambulatory or portico; the width of the ambulatory equalled the height of the columns and measured one-third of the width of the central space.The round form of the arches, of the window-heads, and the ground plan of the basilica were the first indications of the Romanesque style.