Detail of the San Vitale Abel and Melchizedech Mosaic: Saint Matthew

6th century
Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

The saint's pallium and the basket of scrolls are conventional attributes of philosophers (Jensen, 44). Like St. Mark on the right in the same composition, the evangelist has a desk with ink pot and writing implements. He takes dictation from the angel that is his primary symbol.

At the bottom of this panel (not shown here) are water birds in a marsh. The same feature is seen at the bottom of St. Mark's panel and those of John and Luke on the facing wall.

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