Il Mausoleo di Galla Placidia e i suoi mosaici


The whole mosaic decoration communicate a unique funeral message: the glorious Cross is the way to Resurrection and Eternal Life.
In the dark blue night sky of the dome the gold Signum Crucis is surrounded by concentric circles of gold stars. The cross of the Apocalypse is the key of the whole iconography.
On the four corners of the dome, we see the Four Winged Living Beings which announce the second coming of the Saviour: the Winged Man, the Lion, the Calf and the Eagle (Revelation, 4,7).
The cross is acclaimed by the eight Apostles who stand in the four big lunettes at the extremities of the tambour of the dome.


In the four walls of the tambour of the dome – under the couples of Apostles – the two doves stands out: they are drinking from the gushing spring of living water that is true faith in Baptism and in Eternal Life. That news of Redemption is also corroborated by the image in the two lateral lunettes where two couple of deer are drinking from the light blue water of a little lake: the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, oh God (Ps 42,1)


The mausoleum is sober and not pretentious outside but an enormous surprise astonishes the visitor when he enters inside: decoration is rich and sumptuous and the atmosphere is quiet and cosy.
The upper side is completely covered with mosaics where indigo-blue predominates, the lower side of the walls on the contrary, are covered with yellow marble from Siena, almost totally due to a restoration. Originally the slabs were made by ancient yellow as some fragments survive and prove it.
Iconography and iconology in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia are strictly connected to the imperial orthodoxy against Arian heresy and to the church of Santa Croce it belonged to.
The high and complex conceptualization of the argument was developed by the theological culture of bishop Peter 1st Crisologo (426-450) doctor of the church and the Empress' counselor.