Christ as an Enthroned Cross

5th century
Mosaic (apex of the triumphal arch)
Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome

In their togas Saints Peter and Paul stand left and right of a jeweled throne in a blue clipeus. The composition is inspired by Revelation 4:2-3, with the striking substitution of a jeweled cross for the one sitting on the throne:

Immediately I was in the spirit: and behold there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting. And he that sat, was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine stone; i.e., carnelian and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

In the background behind the low wall are the "four living creatures" of Revelation 4:6, conventionally interpreted as the four evangelists. In the foreground is an inscription, XYSTUS EPISCOPUS PLEBI[S] DEI, "Sixtus, Bishop of the People of God." This is Pope Sixtus III (432-40), who built the basilica. Note that with this title he claims an authority over the entire Christian community, not just Rome.

View the entire arch.
Read more about images of Christ in Majesty.
Read more about images of St. Peter.
Read more about images of St. Paul.

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