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Before statues being used in domestic rites, altar was around the sacred fire. This fire was a representation of goddess Vesta, but also a combination of offers to the gods, and a representation of the power of gods. In all eras of Religio Romana, the sacred flame was part of the household cult.
Vesta is the goddess of hearth, domestic and religious fire. Her festival is Vestalia, held on June 7, when Her temple is open to all mothers who bring plates of food. Vesta's temple was the heart of Rome, where the sacred fire burned. The fire was guarded by six Vestal Virgins, priestress who dedicated service to the goddess for thirty years, and were led by Virgo Maxima, the most old Vestal. The Vestals were always preceded of lictors, the only women in Rome with that privilege. If a condemned man met a Vestal, he was tolerated. When Roman makes his will, he entrusts the Vestal Virgins. But Vesta has many aspects, attributes, names and epithets...