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E06049: A reconstruction of a 6th c. mosaic depicting *Michael (the Archangel, S00181), *Gabriel (the Archangel, S00192) and shadows which provide spaces for *Cosmas and Damian (brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, S00385). The original was in San Michele in Africisco in Ravenna (northern Italy) and was created c. 545/547.

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posted on 2018-07-26, 00:00 authored by frances
Reconstructed mosaics from San Michele in Africisco, Ravenna

In the semi-dome of the apse, Christ stands in a landscape in front of a golden background. He holds a cross and an open book, which says:



‘Anyone who has seen me has seen my father. I and my father are one.' (John 14.9; 10.30)

Christ is flanked by two angels, both of whom are haloed and are wearing white. The angel on the left is labelled 'MICHAHEL' (Michael). The angel on the right is labelled 'GABRIHEL' (Gabriel).

On either side of this image on the front of the apse, two panels depict shadowy outlines of men standing in a landscape before a gold background. These men are both labelled. On the left there is 'COSMAS'. On the right we have 'DAMIANUS'. Above the apse Christ is depicted enthroned and surrounded by unnamed angels.

Summary: Frances Trzeciak.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Michael, the Archangel : S00181 Gabriel, the Archangel : S00192 Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of Syria : S00385

Saint Name in Source

Michahel Gabrihel Cosmas, Damianvs

Type of Evidence

Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics Inscriptions - Inscribed architectural elements


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Ravenna Sardinia Sardinia Sardegna Sardinia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image


This mosaic is currently displayed in the Bode Museum in Berlin, Germany. It was very heavily restored after its move to Berlin. After Napoleon's invasion of Italy in the early nineteenth century, the church of San Michele in Africisco was sold and ceased to be a church. In 1843, King Frederick William IV of Prussia purchased it and it moved to the Bode Museum in Berlin, where it has remained ever since.


Cosmas and Damian are depicted in several other mosaics which were present in Ravenna in a similar period, for example in the Cappella Archieviscovile (E05950) and Sant'Apollinare Nuovo (E06046). Cosmas and Damian were venerated elsewhere in Italy in this period: the relics of Cosmas and Damian were brought to Rome by Pope Symmachus (498-514) and were venerated in Rome in the 6th c. (see for example E01361).


Further Reading: Deichmann, Friederich Wilhelm, Ravenna, Hauptstadt des spätantiken Abendlandes, vol. 1-3 (Wiesbaden, 1958-89). Deliyannis, Deborah Mauskopf, Ravenna in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2010). Jäggi, Carola, Ravenna: Kunst und Kultur einer spätantiken Residenzstadt; die Bauten und Mosaiken des 5. und 6. Jahrhunderts (Regensburg, 2016). Verhoeven, Mariëtte, The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna: Transformations and Memory (Turnhout, 2011).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity