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San Vitale Basilica: Empress Theodora

Empress Theodora

Detail of mosaic on the right wall of the apse, depicting Empress Theodora - courtesan, actress, and wife of Justinian - with her court. Corresponding to Justinian's paten on the other wall, the empress holds the cup of communion. "Embroidered" onto her robe is a small depiction of the Three Magi, indicating her intention to associate herself, as many Christian rulers have, with the biblical kings who brought gifts to the Christ Child.

Credit: Holly Hayes