Scala/Art Resource

Jesus as Sol. The conflation of Christian and pagan imagery sometimes seen in coinage minted during the time of Constantine resembles earlier artistic examples. In this third century A.D. mosaic, Jesus, his head surrounded by a halo emanating seven rays, rides across the sky in a chariot drawn by white horses.

Discovered in recent excavations at the Vatican necropolis, this mosaic was located with other clearly recognizable Christian scenes in a chapel built by a wealthy Roman. In 320 the chapel was covered by Constantine’s basilica.

Constantine frequently depicted Sol on coins minted both before and after his conversion to Christianity in 312; this depiction persisted in coinage until 324. (See coins (B) and (C))