Apse Mosaics in the Euphrasian Basilica, Upper Section: Christ and the Apostles

543-554 AD
Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Croatia

Except for Peter's keys, the objects brought to Christ by the apostles alternate crown-book-scroll, crown-book-scroll, etc. They are thus not individualizing attributes but testimony to the characteristics of the apostles as a group, the scroll and book perhaps signifying the old and new testaments and the crown their martyrdom. Individualizing characteristics we do see include the keys; St. Andrew's wild hair; St. Paul's long, pointy beard and receding hairline; and St. Bartholomew's curly hair.

The center of the mosaic is a variation on the Traditio Legis iconographic type. Saints Peter and Paul stand left and right with the keys and scroll typical of Traditio images, but instead of handing them to his apostles Christ sits on a blue sphere blessing the viewer and holding an open book. The words in the book, ego sum lux vera, mean "I am the true light," a reference to John 8:12, "I am the light of the world." The blue sphere may represent the "world" of that passage or, being blue, it could represent Heaven.

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Read more about Christ in Majesty and the apostles as a group.

Also see these detail images:

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