(FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER) — FLORENCE, S.C. - Around 200 A.D., a figure was scratched into a wall of a building on Palatine Hill in Rome.
The piece, referred to as the Alexamenos graffito, is possibly the oldest depiction of Jesus available for the historical record. The piece represents something of a starting point in the long, but not often recognized, history of Christian expression in street art.
Fast forward a couple thousand years, and the Florence Jesus graffiti - equally crudely written - wouldn't be out of place on that timeline. Drive around the area enough and you'll see the graffiti, its large, looping white letters spray-painted on regularly traveled roadways.
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The messages, "Jesus is lord," "Jesus the grace of God," "Jesus son of God," etc., would be palatable to many people if not for their illegal placement. Instead, the graffiti provides a window into the anonymous person's (or persons') unique understanding of what's "good" and what's "bad."