The church that Emperor Theodoric built in the first part of the 6th century for followers of Arianism, a Christian sect, is awash in motion. On the left side of the nave, reserved for women, 22 female saints and martyrs approach Mary and the Christ child as they receive gifts from the three magi, who sport natty leopard-skin leggings. On the right side, 26 male martyrs led by St. Martin approach a bearded Christ. Above these processions are 26 charmingly rendered scenes from the life of Christ, including one of Christ standing on shore and calling to Peter and Andrew in small boat, asking them to be his disciples. Mosaics near the door provide a picture postcard view of the old city, including Theodoric’s palace and other monuments and the port city of Classe. Look for the detached hand and forearm wrapped around a column of Theodoric’s palace—it was once part of a portrait of Theodoric’s court that was removed when the church became a Catholic basilica.
- Frommer's Staff