The Cross Enthroned

6th or late 5th century
Mosaic
The Arian Baptistery, Ravenna

At the head of a procession of Apostles offering their golden crowns, Saints Paul and Peter flank the jeweled cross, which functions symbolically to represent Christ. Paul is recognized by his scroll, pointy beard, and receding hairline; Peter, by his keys. The purple cloth that hangs from the crossbars may be a pallium, a symbol of ecclesiastical authority.

The whole composition is most likely influenced by John's vision in Revelation 4, where "he that sat, was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine stone" and twenty-four elders "fell down before him…and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 'Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power….'"

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Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.