Mary Mother of God, at Dura Europos

Mary Mother of God, at Dura Europos

Wall paintings, some quite well-preserved, in a house church at Dura Europos date to about 240AD. This is among the earliest Christian art found outside of the catacombs. Several of the wall paintings tell, in visual detail, recognizable New Testament stories - a man (Peter) walking on a stormy sea, a man with his bed across his back (Lazarus) appearing to stand or walk. 

There is another wall fragment that shows a woman near what looks to be a well. Some scholars associate this painting with the New Testament story of the Samaritan woman at the well. 

“Michael Peppard, an associate professor of theology at Fordham University, argues that the woman at the well is the Virgin Mary.

“In a Jan. 20 op-ed in The New York Times, Peppard argues that the wall painting depicts the Annunciation, the moment when the angel Gabriel announced that Mary would conceive and give birth to Jesus. If Peppard is correct, then the wall painting is the oldest reliably datable image of Mary.”

Image and excerpted text from Yale University online,

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