Discuss the mosaics in the San Vitale with regard to church and state.



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In the mosaics of the grand arch, we can see Saints Gervasius and Protasius. Their likenesses refer to their martyrdom, either during the reign of Emperor Nero or Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Their father, the martyred Saint Vitalis of Milan, also appears next to the figure of Jesus Christ, who sits on a blue orb.

On other sections of the mosaics, notably in the ambulatories of the central section and in the presbytery vault, there are images from the Bible. The cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem are also represented, symbolizing, respectively, the Jews and the Gentiles (all non-Jews).

The Emperor Justinian is featured on the left wall, where he is flanked by his attendants, as well as the Archbishop of Ravenna, Maximian. Across from the Emperor is his wife, Empress Theodora. Justinian strictly defended the faith and suppressed heretics, but he also extended monastic rights and rebuilt the destroyed Church of Hagia Sophia.

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