Today’s Scripture: Hebrews 4:14-5:4
14Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NRSV)
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This mosaic at the Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano in Rome, Italy, dates to 527 CE. This view exhibits the Cosmic Christ. The alternating colors inlaid into the blue tesserae emphasize his place in the cosmos. He is flanked by Paul (left) and Peter (right), and next to them, the patron saints, Cosmas and Damien.
Cosmas and Damien were esteemed in antiquity as ancient doctors, who treated Christians without fear of persecution.
Also note the lambs processing at the bottom from either side. This scene is replicated at Sta Maria Maggiore, and San Apollinare in Classe. The basilica hall was attached to a round temple that has been identified as the Temple of Jupiter Stator, which has been dated to the 3rd century BC.
There are twelve sheep in the full mosaic of the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, symbolizing the twelve apostles and by extension, the faithful. They form a band below the ascendant Christ, indicating their presence in the afterlife made possible by Christ’s sacrifice, as a lamb was offered in the Jewish faith as a sacrifice.
Apse Mosaic - Basilica of Cosmas and Damien, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=52452 [retrieved March 18, 2015]. Original source: From the library of Lee M. Jefferson.