The Trial Before the Sanhedrin
Church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna
This is one of the 13 narrative mosaics along the right wall of the
nave. Standing beside Jesus is an accuser in the same clothing,
hair, and beard as the associate of Caiaphas in the Way of the Cross panel and
(possibly) the Pharisee in the panel on The Parable of the Pharisee
and the Publican. His dalmatic and chasuble most likely
signify some sort of religious status (see this
image of a contemporary bishop).
Caiaphas the High Priest sits on the left end of the bench. Like his
colleagues, he wears red and white boots and a mantle with an ornate
pectoral clasp. The mantle and clasp are also worn by Aaron, the
original High Priest, in this
painting from the 3rd century and this
ivory from the 10th, and by Melchizedek in two other local
mosaics, one from the 7th
century and one from
the 6th. In the latter, Melchizedek also has the red-and-white
boots worn here by the Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin's tunics, with the paired shoulder-to-hem stripes,
perhaps suggest their dependence on the Romans. Elsewhere in these
mosaics, only soldiers wear tunics; the stripes resemble those in
images of Roman senators (example).
Caiaphas has the same garb and hair in subsequent panels on Judas' regret, The Trial Before
Pilate, and the Way
of the Cross.
The scene is based on Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65, Luke
23:66-71, and John 18:12-24.
View the entire right wall
See also a view of the entire
left wall with commentary on the iconography of Jesus and the
apostles in these mosaics.
This image in full resolution
More of the Trial Before the
at the church by Richard Stracke
Sant'Apollinare in Classe has this
mosaic of Ursicinus, Bishop of Ravenna (533-536), wearing shoes and
a white pallium over a folded chasuble over a white
dalmatic. This is the typical garb in which Ravenna's bishops were
pictured. It has some similarities to the shoes, chasuble, and
dalmatic of the accuser in the Sanhedrin scene, although the latter
has no pallium and his dalmatic has no stripes.
Here is a third-century fresco from the
Hypogeum of the Aurelii in Rome, showing the purple stripes on the
togas of senators: