The Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes

6th century
Church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna

A youthful, beardless Jesus blesses the loaves with his right hand, the fingers in the "Old Believers" configuration seen in many of the other panels. He stretches his left hand over the two fish. This episode is in John 6:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21, and Luke 9:12-17.

The man directly on Jesus' left is St. Peter, with his usual short, square beard. In these mosaics he always has gray hair (a sign of his "seniority"?). On his left is St. Andrew, identifiable by the same head of wild, rounded hair seen in the panels on the Calling of Andrew and Peter and the Garden of Gethsemane. One might guess that the beardless man on Jesus' right is John, but in the Passion mosaics on the right wall several of the apostles are beardless.

The gospel accounts say Jesus started with five loaves, not four as shown.

This is one of the 13 mosaics of the life of Christ along the upper band of the left wall of the nave. Standing at the east end of the band, closest to the apse, this and the Miracle at Cana mosaic are directly opposite the Last Supper image on the right wall, reflecting the belief that these miracles were types of the Eucharist celebrated in the apse (Deliyannis 154).

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