Sarcophagus with Lambs, Crosses, and Wheel

3rd to 8th century
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe

The wheel-like design could be either an adaptation of the IX monogram representing Christ or a stylized image of a chariot wheel. The monogram usually comprises three lines in a circle, not four. A nearby sarcophagus with four chariot wheels sculpted on each end would indicate that the wheels of Ezekiel were thought related to the passage to the afterlife. The overall design is echoed by the peacocks on the lid approaching an urn. Peacocks are an ancient emblem of immortality.

Each of the lambs has followed Christ's counsel, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).

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More of the Lamb of God symbol

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