Next door to Santa Prassede is the mammoth Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (Bigger Saint Mary). When the church was built and decorated for the first time in the early 400s, its patron Pope Sixtus III had several concerns. One of them was the Nestorian heresy that insisted that Mary was the Mother of Christ but not the Mother of God.
Pope Sixtus III’s battle with the Nestorian heresy explains several unusual mosaics depicting the Life of Christ. For example, the traditional manger scene is absent, because its humility strengthened Nestorians’ argument that Christ was merely human. To hammer on Christ’s divine nature, Pope Sixtus III’s artists depicted the baby Christ like an Emperor in a jewel-studded throne in the Adoration of the Magi. But the real must-see is Mary knitting in the Annunciation! This image was inspired by a book of the Bible that was expunged shortly after the mosaics were created. Both Christ receiving the Magi in his imperial throne and the knitting Madonna can be seen in the picture.