Galla Placidia--page 1 (of two pages)

2nd quarter of the fifth century CE

A small mausoleum

This structure in the shape of a Greek cross was probably intended to be a mausoleum. It was built by the Empress Galla Placidia, whose half-brother was the Emperor Honorius. After being abducted and forced to marry a Visigoth, she later returned to Ravenna where she married the Emperor Constantius III. After his death she served for several years during her son's minority as the head of the Western Empire. It is not clear where she was buried, although this building has three sarcophagi built into the side arms of the structure. This building is very dark, which explains the poor quality of these images.

Views into the cross arms


Mosaic of the martyrdom of St. Lawrence with a detail of the gridiron


Mosaic of the Good Shepherd

This mosaic is beautifully fitted to the arch of the wall, with the heads of the sheep following the curvature. Unlike the images of Jesus as the good shepherd in the catacombs, here Jesus is more regal in purple and gold and with an obvious halo. The style here is still close to the antique with naturalistic foliage and a "real" sky in the background. See later mosaics in Ravenna for a more Byzantine-influenced style.

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© 2006 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.