St Apollinaris was a first-century evangelist, sent from Antioch to convert the Romans to Christianity, who became the first Bishop of Ravenna. His remains were originally in this church when Classis was a thriving port. Today the sea is some miles distant, and this big church and later campanile rest amongst pines. St Apollinaris’ bones were moved down the road to Ravenna in the church that bears his name. Unlike Nuovo, this church has kept its basilica intact – central nave, side aisles and apse – with a pitched wooden roof and rafters visible. The marble on the interior walls was stripped long ago.
The mosaic in the apse is beautiful, and its depiction of St Apollinaris and his flock looks very childlike and unsophisticated after Galla Placidia’s mausoleum: everything is arranged fairly symmetrically against a grass-green background with no overlapping figures. The figure of Christ is bearded and shown blessing the congregation/flock.