Sant'Apollinare Nuovo: Right Side of the Nave

6th century (Original mosaics ca. 504, Orthodox revisions ca. 561, some restorations done in mid-19th century)
Church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy

This is the right wall of the nave. The three bands of mosaics correspond to those on the left wall.

The uppermost band presents Christ's passion. See below for links to some of the panels. One notable aspect of this band is the portrayal of Jesus as wearing a beard, whereas he is beardless in the panels on the facing wall that picture his public life and miracles. Shepherd (98) notes that the same distinction is followed in the Rabbula Gospel Book, also of the 6th century. For Cartlidge and Elliott (72) "the series speaks as an historical allegory in which the miracle-working and teaching Christ is a beardless youth and the Christ of the Passion becomes Christ Pantocrator."

The middle band features various prophets, evangelists, and other saints. Below these, a procession of 26 male martyrs from the city of Ravenna bring their wreaths to the throne of Christ (at the left in this photo). According to Schillerhe ceremony of presenting wreaths was used in antiquity to acknowledge and honor the ruler" (133)

The church was built as an Arian cathedral by Theodoric the Great in 504. But Ravenna was subsequently conquered by the Orthodox Byzantines, and in 561 the church was rededicated tor Orthodox worship. At about that time the original mosaics were revised. Scholars assume that the revisions were made to remove anything suggesting Arianism and to emphasize Orthodox beliefs.1

Scenes from the Passion:

  1. The Last Supper
  2. Gethsemane
  3. Judas' Kiss
  4. The Arrest of Jesus
  5. The Trial Before the Sanhedrin
  6. Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial
  7. Peter's Denial of Jesus
  8. Judas Tries to Return the Thirty Silver Pieces
  9. The Trial Before Pilate
  10. The Way of the Cross
  11. Resurrection: The Women at the Tomb
  12. The Road to Emmaus
  13. Jesus Appears to the Apostles

Details from the Procession of Martyrs

  1. The City of Ravenna
  2. Christ Enthroned with Angels and Saints

View this photograph in full resolution.
Also see the corresponding mosaics, with commentaries, on the left side of the nave.

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

1 Deliyannis 153 et pass.