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 Home > The Great Upper Church

North Apse, Christ in Majesty

Christ in Majesty is the centerpiece of the Great Upper Church. At 3,600 square feet and containing nearly 3 million tiles, it is the one of the largest mosaics of Jesus in the world. John de Rosen designed the image in the Eastern Christian tradition of the Pantocrator, meaning the Ruler of All, or Celestial Emperor.

The image is in keeping with the Byzantine architecture of the Basilica, with a distinctly post- Renaissance character more familiar to the Western Church. Christ in Majesty has an apocalyptic nature, based in part on a verse from the Book of Daniel (7:14): "To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed."

Jesus' strong youthful face and expression is consonant with the earliest images of Him in the Roman catacombs. His gaze is solemn, and his outstretched arms and exposed right breast are intended to focus the viewer on the wounds of his crucifixion. Revealed through these elements is his merciful love, and that he is the just judge.