Today I visit Ravenna, a sleepy small town near the Adriatic Coast. Ravenna became the seat of Byzantine government in Italy in the sixth century (540), and remained so until 751, when the Lombards took it.
What makes Ravenna unique is the Byzantine treasures that have survived over the centuries and carefully been restored, the mosaics that adourn so many churches and monuments.
In this first part I present some of the highlights of the beautiful Church of San Vitale. The church was built in the middle of the sixth century and is the only church from the period of Emperor Justinian, that has survived the centuries.
In one of the spectacular panels of the church, the Emperor who made Ravenna the capital of Byzantium in the West is seen with his entourage and Bishop Maximian.
The Church was dedicated to Bishop Maximian in 547 and he is the nly named figure in the panel.
In another panel, we see a young, beardless Christ
giving the crown of martyrdom to St. Vitalis, while Bishop Exxlesius is presenting a model of the Church. Ecclesius was the Bishop who started the building of the Chuch in 526.
The representation of Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God is stunning.Agnus Dei is the allegorical representation of the “Sacrifice” of Christ.
Agnus Dei is positioned directly above the altar.
The mosais on the Arches are by themselves masterpieces.
What a wonsderful depiction of our Saviour! Encircled by four dolphins!
This decorative detail is the best testimony to the absolute glory of the church’s mosaics.
Empress Theodora and her friends.
The church is full of symbolic images, figures and episodes from the Testament.
Abel and Melchizedek.
San Vitale is a treasure that cannot be exhaused easily. I feel I need to go back again and again. Same feeling I had in Moni Choras.