photo 49 of 302
Sant'Apollinare in Classe: Apse Mosaic: Cross and St. Apollinarius

Apse Mosaic: Cross and St. Apollinarius

The 6th-century apse mosaic contains an interesting symbolic depiction of the Transfiguration of Christ (Mt 17:1-9). Christ is represented by a golden cross on a starry blue background (99 stars to be exact), while the three apostles who were present at the Transfiguration - Peter, James and John - are represented by lambs (not shown here). The large cross is decorated with mosaic gems and a bust of Christ in the center. It has a Latin inscription at its base reading SALVS MVNDI, "Salvation of the World" and a Greek inscription at the top: IXΘYC. This means "fish" in Greek and is also an acronym for "Jesus Christ Son of God Savior." The Greek letters Alpha and Omega are at the ends of the cross-arms. Below is St. Apollinarius, patron saint of the church.