If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:14

Video transcript

we're in the Church of Santa Paula Nara in Class A just outside of Ravenna this was once the port for the Roman Empire in the early 1st century right there had once been a large Lagoon in between the two towns that's long gone this was actually the site of an ancient Roman cemetery and there is every possibility that the first bishop of ravenna sent Apollinaris was actually buried here on this site and we see sent Apollinaris right here in the center of the apse but before we get to that let's talk about the church for a second we're in a basilica and like so many churches in Ravenna it's been through many phases and just like sent upon our new ovo there would have been mosaics all along the nave but those are gone what we do have is an extraordinary apse mosaic it's huge let's start with the archway around the abbe that's known as the triumphal arch and in the top center we see a bearded image of God holding a book and on either side of him the symbols of the four evangelists right John is an eagle Matthew is the man mark is the lion and Luke is the ox and they're in a sky filled with blue and red clouds below them we see on the left the city of Jerusalem on the right Bethlem and from those two very symbolically represented cities we see lambs emerging walking up a mountain up towards the clouds up towards heaven so clearly a purely symbolic representation and that continues in the apse mosaic itself largest and most central is a gold cross in the centre of the cross you can see a small bust of Jesus Christ surrounding it is a blue field with 99 gold stars on either edge of the short arm of the Cross we see the Greek letters Alpha and Omega the idea that Christ is the beginning and the end that Christ is all things so we have symbolically represented here as a story we call the Transfiguration the moment when Christ revealed his divine nature to three of his russell's Peter James and John and they're shown here as sheep in a field Christ is symbolically represented as the cross on either side we do see two human figures half-length representations one is Moses and one is Elijah and in the story of the Transfiguration when Christ revealed his divine nature and was filled with white light Moses and Elijah appeared with him and God the Father spoke and said this is my son whom I love with whom I am well pleased listen to him and so this is the moment of divine revelation this appearance of Christ the man as God it's so easy to imagine a sixth century worshipper sitting here understanding that this is a sort of extraordinary opportunity to have these sacred truths reveal to them as they sit before it the figures of Moses and Elijah in a golden sky in the realm of the eternal below sent upon RA in a more earthly realm but one represented it very schematically and decoratively and of course the sheep are wonderful especially down at the bottom there are twelve of them and it's clearly the reference to the Apostles and send upon RA himself stands frontal we can see his name written on either side of him just in case we we're gonna forget her that's right we do that and he's got his arms raised in prayer which is actually a position we often see in early Christian imagery so in these churches in Ravenna we see here and apps in another Church the apse might be missing but we have the mosaics on the walls of the nave and we can begin to fit together what these churches would have looked like when they were new in the 5th and 6th century you