Saturday, July 20, 2013
St. Apollonaire and Church Architecture
Today (July 20th) is the feast of St. Apollinaris. The Basilica of Sant' Apollonaire Nuovo along with Sant' Apollonaire Nuovo and San Vitale are magnificent examples of church architecture where beauty and form follow liturgical function.
When I first entered this Basilica, I knew I had left the city and entered a different world.
In the Mass, we are transported to the Lamb's Feast portrayed in the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse of St. John.) As the council fathers put it, "8. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle ; we sing a hymn to the Lord's glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory ." Sacrosanctum Concilium.
In the top picture, you see Mary and the Child Jesus guarded by four angels. The two lower pictures show mosaics that run the full length of the church showing the angels ("the heavenly host"), the martyrs, and the saints.
In particular, "The lower band, commissioned by the Chancellery of Ravenna, contains mosaics that illustrate a magnificent procession of male and female saints. The twenty-two saints, led by Saint Euphemia, slowly and rhythmically proceed in stately procession holding a symbolic crown. On the opposite wall, the twenty-six martyrs in white robes seem to form an infinitely long procession."