A profusion of foliate borders and geometric designs, interlaced medallions and stars – over thirty-one stencil designs upon a gold background – cover the walls, ceilings, and other spaces, creating an aura of golden splendor.
The most prominent design is a variation of a cross within a circle. The wheel cross is an ancient symbol of the eternal movement of the sun and stars, created by divine power. Christians adapted the wheel cross to represent Christ as Lord of the Universe.
Panels between the stained glass windows of the clerestory are decorated with interwoven Greek crosses and stylized flowers. Panels at both ends contain grape leaves with stylized bunches of grapes, symbol of the eucharist.
Trompe l’oeil marble (faux marble) covers the piers and columns in variegated shades of paint. The piers are tan, and the ambulatory and side aisle colonnades are green, symbolic of the water in which Clement was martyred.
Closing the Embrace
The embrace of Christ on the Tree of Life enfolds the community and completes the circle with the beautiful mosaic and marble of the former altar rail, now at the last pew. The interlocking circles of the altar rail and the holy water font, which was in former times the baptismal font of the church, evoke the unbreakable union with God and one another in the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit begun in baptism, celebrated within these walls and lived beyond.
As we enter and leave the church of Saint Clement, the embrace of Christ on the Tree of Life recalls the words of Saint Paul: Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.