Pondering History in Ravenna's Church of San Vitale

05/09/2014 03:51 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2014

As a tour guide, I strive to get into the mindset of the people for whom art was created. Ravenna's mosaic-slathered Church of San Vitale dates from a time when the ancient world was on the cusp of the Middle Ages. For 15 centuries -- ever since the days when Jesus was portrayed without a beard -- pilgrims have pondered the path their lives will take as they work through the labyrinth leading to this amazing altar. With delightful symmetry and vivid symbolism, this lovingly assembled pile of mosaic chips has worked wonders on visitors for well over a thousand years. And we're excited to be bringing it home on public television.