Church of San Vitale

Type: Mosaics, Churches
Date: 526–48
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Italy
Description: The church of San Vitale, consecrated in 547, was built after Justinian I (r. 527–65) conquered northeastern Italy from the Ostrogoths. The church has an octagonal plan, with an ambulatory around a central core. On the apse's upper walls, Abel and the priest Melchizidek from the Book of Genesis make offerings to the hand of God, standing before an altar with a eucharistic chalice. On the lower apse walls, across from the mosaic panel of Justinian and Bishop Maximianus, is the depiction of Empress Theodora (r. 527–48) and her retinue of court women and eunuchs. Like Melchizidek above and the Magi on her robes, she is ready with an offering: a chalice of eucharistic wine. Her rich garments, crown, and jewelry with multicolored precious stones and pearls offer evidence of imperial ornamentation of the period.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 3
Image Credits: Genevra Kornbluth, Wikimedia Commons, Navid Jamali

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San Vitale, Theodora and retinue, lower apse wall San Vitale, Magi on Theodora's robe San Vitale, apse San Vitale, Abel and Melchisedek on the south wall of the presbytery San Vitale, exterior, eastern end, south chamber San Vitale, lower apse wall, Justinian and Maximianus mosaic San Vitale, plan and section