Ravenna, S Michele in Africisco

Era 6AD
Location Am Kupfergraben, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Don't go looking for this church in Ravenna. What remains of it is in the Bode Museum in Berlin and a fragment - a head of Christ possibly, but horribly restored - in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. We know that the patron of S Michele was a man called Julianus Argentarius, who also helped pay for various other churches in Ravenna, including S Vitale. Here, Julianus and his son-in-law were the patrons. We know that the church was dedicated in 545;. We are pretty sure that the apse mosaic showed Christ, beardless, holding a cross staff and book, and flanked by Michael and Gabriel, all on a gold ground. Cosmas and Damian were in the pendentives of the apse space and on the arch of the apse was a bearded, enthroned Christ in centre, angels to either side, seven in all.

But what is in the Bode now is, in my view, largely a nineteenth-century version of events.

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