The Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus: Detail: the miracle at Cana

In John's gospel (2:1-11) Jesus changes six large stone jars of water into wine, but most sarcophagi of this era show only two or three little pots. Jesus' left hand rests on the head of one of the servants whom he told to fill the jars with water. In his right hand is a wand symbolizing his authority.

The orant on the right with the veil and outstretched hands could possibly be Mary, the one whose request led to the Cana miracle, but being at the center of the composition (and the only figure in the lower register wearing shoes – see detail) it is possible she could represent Ecclesia, the Church, praying for the decedent. Compare the orant in another Christian sarcophagus of the period, who also stands in the exact center wearing shoes and flanked by St. Peter and a beardless apostle (St. John?).

View the entire sarcophagus
More of the miracle at Cana

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