The ARCHIEPISCOPAL CHAPEL or ST. ANDREW CHAPEL is on the first floor of the Archiepiscopal Museum of Ravenna, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument since 1996.
Built at the beginning of the 5th century by Archbishop Peter II, the chapel is the only Orthodox monument extant in town. It was built in Theodoric’s time as a private oratory for the Catholic bishops.
After the city was conquered by the Byzantines, the Chapel was consecrated to St. Andrew, whose remains were brought to Ravenna from Constantinople around the middle of the 6th century.
The mosaic decorations
The little oratory is dedicated to the Saviour, and the whole decoration system glorifies its image, coherent with an anti-Arian interpretation.
Christ, dressed as a warrior, with a cross on his shoulder, his monogram and his face, stand out in various parts of the chapel.
The images of martyrs, apostles and evangelists also contribute to underline this attempt of glorification, as to claim the Catholic orthodoxy’s supremacy.
In the Archiepiscopal also stands out the Latin inscription in the vestibule “Either light was born here or it was made captive, [either way] here it reigns freely” (“Aut lux hic nata est aut capta hic libera regnat”).
This inscription as well, reflecting in the radiance of the chapel’s mosaic, refers most probably to the Orthodox light, in sharp contrast with Arianism.