The Woman at the Well

6th century
Church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna

This is one of the 13 mosaics along the upper band of the left wall of the nave that follow the life of Christ. In most of them he blesses a person with his right hand.

The episode is narrated in John 4:4-29. Fatigued, Jesus has sat down beside the well of Jacob. The stone he sits on is shaped roughly like a throne on a dais, reflecting the commentaries' interpretation that his taking a seat is a sign of his role as teacher. A Samaritan woman comes to draw water, and he promises her "living water." At this moment the disciples arrive, pictured here by the single disciple on the right. The woman then goes into the village with the news of this man. "Could he be the Messiah?"

See also a view of the entire left wall with commentary on the iconography of Jesus and the apostles in these mosaics.

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