Christ as the Lamb of God

5th-8th century
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, Italy

This is the right end of a sarcophagus displayed in the basilica. Christ is represented as the Lamb of God standing in front of a bejewelled cross with a small "tail" making it a "staurogram." Approaching the cross, as if it were Noah's ark, is a dove with a wreath.

The wreath can represent Christ's and the Christian's victory in an athletic contest, as in I Corinthians 9:24-25, "Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one." Also, the three small globular objects within the circle of the wreath are most likely olives, alluding to the olive branch that the dove brought to Noah in Genesis 8:6-11. Thus the cross stands both for Christ himself and for the Church his "body"(Romans 12:5, I Corinthians 12:12,27), of which the ark is a conventional symbol.

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View the left end of this sarcophagus.
Read more about the Lamb of God symbol and about crosses and crucifixes.

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