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.
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:
Details from the Procession of Martyrs
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.