This morning we encountered the Emperor Justinian in the great Ravenna church, San Vitale. The church was named for the martyr, San Vitale, who had died two centuries before at the hand of Domition. For me, there are two main attributes in this church. The marble floor and the amazing mosaic murals that depict the Emperor Justinian on one side of the apse and his wife, Theodora and her retinue on the other side of the apse. These two are god-like in their appearance, as was common for the depiction of Emperors in Rome.
We also met Gallida Placida, a very powerful woman who eventually was entitled to create a mausoleum for herself, which we visited. Gallida Placida’s remains are not there but the jewel box of a small chapel is left for us to admire. There are sumptuous mosaics showing doves at a birdbath, which is one of the symbols seen throughout the city of Ravenna.
Today was the day to go to the Lido, the beach area of Ravenna. The weather was on the cool side with sprinkles of rain, hardly a deterrent for us. Most of us waded in the Adriatic Sea and one of us even swam. A refreshing change of pace.
Lynne reminded us of a quote from theologian, Richard Niebuhr, which resonatedparticularly with me. “Pilgrims are persons in motion – passing though territories not their own, – seeking something we might call completion, or perhaps clarity.”