Sunday, June 5, 2011

San Vitale Sunday

Ceiling, Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy  © Doug Hickok

Dating from the year 548, this early Christian church is one of 8 buildings in Ravenna that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Although begun under the rule of the Ostrogoths, it was completed during the reign of the Byzantines, and is one of the few churches to survive undamaged from the period of Emperor Justinian I.

I was traveling with the choir of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Charleston) when we stopped in San Vitale to admire the beauty of the church. Shortly after, the choir director assembled the singers for an impromptu piece (Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium) at the alter. I'll never forget that moment, because I've never heard such magnificent music! The combination of the talented singers and the acoustics of the church made the voices sound etherial. For a moment I thought I was in heaven.

This image of the interior shows the ornate dome from below. The light being quite low, and not having a tripod, I set my camera in the middle of the floor with a wide angle lens pointing upward, and made a long exposure of about 30 seconds. The photograph was made on slide film which rendered the mostly ambient incandescent lighting a glowing warm color.


  1. Italian have a big sense of the beauty and the art and it is translated in almost all their architecture. Very beautiful ceiling and light

  2. Italy is such a beautiful country and I really appreciate your effort in photographing the beauty of Christianity! I love the warm color of this image. It really fits to the art.

  3. Amazing image, as always! Thanks for the special consideration and interest you are showing for our country.

  4. gorgeous scene. nice color and detail.

  5. The architecture and details are amazing!

  6. That is ONE amazing picture, once I was able to travel with the Händle Choir of my mother-in-law to Poland, they sang in churches and the sound is fabulous.
    So I know how you felt, it almost sounds better in a nice surrounding.
    The painting on the ceiling is more than beautiful.

  7. beautiful pov and colours, doug, in this very lovely image! i took a look at your posts from the last two weeks and am quite smitten - glad i did not miss them altogether! and yes, happy birthday, though a bit late! thanks for your continued visits and comments during my absence! this is greatly appreciated indeed!

  8. Gorgeous capture and rendition of this cathedral ceiling. Beautiful!!!

  9. Truly, truly beautiful. Great job!

  10. One word: opulence.

    When I visited cathedrals in Rome, I just felt like a kid in the candy store.
    Too much to see, really didn't know what to focus.

    >The old Charlestonians sounded European to me.
    European as the Continent or British?
    Because "Europe" means the Continent in Britain! Ha...

  11. Beautiful view on this cathedrale ceiling and warm colors.

  12. So majestic--You've really taken us there with this image and the great narrative text. I can almost hear the music! Have a great week!

  13. Thanks for sharing this beautiful photo of a beautiful church! I haven't been in Ravenna but I know it is amazing and you show this to us, Doug!

  14. Gorgeous!! Stunning!! I envy both your visual and audio feast.

  15. Blessings.....
    Wow fantastic, can you imagine though the serious back aches after that job? Some people are just plain talented.....

    Have a magnificent week and thank you for stopping by and sharing your wisdom with me.

    Stay blessed.

  16. Your new template had me browsing through your archive and i found this beautiful dome in the Church of San Vitale, Ravenna.... it is beautiful and well framed Doug...

    The problem with your new template is that one can not get back to your opening page with out leaving and them coming back....peter:)

    I don't normally post links but i wanted to show you this...:)

    I took this photo in June 2006 at exactly 4:00 p,m. ....peter:)


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