Orthodox baptistery (and the archiepiscopal chapel)


Baptism of Christ, surrounded by apostles and thrones


Neonian baptistery and 10th-century campanile

A quick visit to look at some recently uncovered floor mosaics for a grand domestic house (which, on any other day, would have been interesting had they not been completely overshadowed by their more luxurious counterparts) and a look at the intricately carved ivory cathedra. Also the exquisite archiepiscopal chapel with its beautiful barrel vault of ducks and guinea fowl against a golden background. Christ (militant, slaying Arian heresy by the looks of things – and this was built during Theodoric’s reign) and the saints were also pretty good.


Then came the Orthodox baptistery. Here the mosaics date from the mid fifth century and were restored in the nineteenth. At some point a beard was added to the clean-shaven figure of Christ. Below the central roundel, there is a merry-go-round of animated apostles; then come the thrones, all of which leads down to the arches of the windows. It’s stunning and all-embracing: if you were an adult pagan coming to be baptised, you may have been reassured by the sight of so many good guys on your side.



About aides mémoires

This is a chronological list of things I have seen, places I have visited, and thoughts that have wandered through the space between my ears. A reading group of one; an art appreciation society limited by my preferences and prejudices; opera criticism by one who knows nothing about the subject.
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