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In the small square of the church of the Holy Spirit, the former Arian cathedral, is the baptistery which was built about the end of the 5th century when Theodoric had consolidated his rule and the Arian cult was the official religion of the Court. The Arian religion was a heresy which got its name from its proponent, Arius. Nothing remains of the various decorations which certainly covered the walls. On the dome there is a beautiful mosaic depicting the baptism of Christ and the Twelve Apostles. The building, which has subsided about 2.25 metres into the ground, has an octagonal plan with four small external apses.
The Arian Christ
According to Arian doctrine, Christ was the son of God but retained His human nature. It was only through the rite of baptism that the divine nature of Christ became manifest. The mosaics of this baptistery celebrate the theology of baptism but the young Christ is not represented as coming from the east as instead in the Catholic baptistery ("light from true light, God from true God"). The Arian Christ of this baptistery is moving towards the east, becoming divine only at the moment of baptism. The Christ depicted in the cupola of the Arian baptistery is thus human, a young nude man immersed in water up to the hips but with the groin visible. The nudity of Christ is an affirmation of the Arian doctrine and thus of the human nature of Christ. The Arian heresy did not survive but in this baptistery the image of Christ nude is what remains.
Source: local Staff of Ravenna