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.

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