The Sarcophagus of St. Felix

8th century
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, Italy

On the frontal two sheep approach the center from stylized temples with round arches and what appear to be chandeliers. In the center is a stylized temple with a pediment and acroteria. It frames a modified staurogram representing Christ. From the crossbeam hang the alpha and omega. On the lid two wreaths enclose crosses of similar design.

The inscription along the front margin of the lid identifies the decedent:

hic tumulus clausum servat corpus domini [?]elicis sanctissimi ac ter beatissimi archiepiscopi
This sepulture encloses the body of the most holy and thrice-blessed Lord Archbishop Felix.

The letter at the head of the word elicis can only be a mangled F: The only archbishop of Ravenna with elicis in the Latin form of his name was St. Felix, who held the see from 709 to 725. The phrase ter beatissimus, "thrice blessed," is a common epithet for bishops.

This image in full resolution
More of the staurogram symbol
More of the sheep/lamb symbol

Home Page

Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.