Christ as an Enthroned Cross

5th century
Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

In their togas Saints Peter and Paul stand left and right of a jeweled throne in a blue clipeus. The composition is inspired by Revelation 4:2-3–

Immediately I was in the spirit: and behold there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting. And he that sat, was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine stone [i.e., carnelian]; and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
The image diverges strikingly from the text by substituting a jeweled cross for the "one sitting." The "four living creatures" of Revelation 4:6 are behind the low wall in the background.

The inscription means "Sixtus Bishop of the People of God," referring to Pope Sixtus III (432-440).

This image is at the apex of the triumphal arch in the church. Here is the arch as a whole:

View the photos of the arch and the throne in full resolution.
Read more about Christ Enthroned, St. Peter, and St. Paul.

Photographed at Santa Maria Maggiore by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.