Orthodox baptistery (and the archiepiscopal chapel)

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Baptism of Christ, surrounded by apostles and thrones

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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.

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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.

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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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