The Church of the Holy Saviour in the Chora – part 3

The third main theme of the mosaics in the Chora is the life of Christ.

Here John the Forerunner bears witness to Jesus before baptising him in the river Jordan:

Then there are a series of miracles, starting with the miracle at Canaa:

The miracle of the loaves and fishes:

Healing the mother-in-law of St Peter:

Curing the blind:

Healing the halt and the lame:

Curing the young man with the withered arm:

Over the entrance door to the inner narthex is a wonderful mosaic of Christ Pantokrator:

In the inner narthex itself there is a huge Deesis depicting Christ Pantokrator

and the Mother of God. Below the Mother of God kneels the figure of Isaac Komnenos, son of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who extensively re-built the Chora in the twelfth century.

Kneeling to the right of Christ Pantocrator is the figure of Melani Komnenos, though I haven’t been able to discover why she is depicted in this particular mosaic:

The Chora - Deesis - Melanie Komnenos

Finally in this cycle are two of my favourite frescoes in the Parecclesion (a place of burial) of the Chora, and possibly also in Byzantine art. The first is in the semi dome over the apse and is a wonderful depiction of the Resurrection of the Dead, with Christ trampling down the gates of hell and raising Adam and Eve from their tombs. It is simply jaw-droppingly beautiful:

The second is in a vault of the Parecclesion and shows the Last Judgement:

Christ is surrounded by angels and saints. Above him an angel rolls up the skies (the snail-like object) containing the sun, moon and stars. Beneath Christ a throne for the Second Coming has been prepared: Adam and Eve bow down before it to ask forgiveness for the sins of mankind. And beneath that scene two angels weigh the sins and good deeds of the souls of the dead: sinners are sent to hell (the fiery area to the bottom right) and the righteous are sent to paradise on the left.

Between the two frescoes is a depiction of the Archangel Gabriel:

In a separate fresco, St Peter is shown opening the door to paradise for the crowd of the righteous. The rather surreal figure in the doorway is supposed to be a cherub guarding the gate.The repentant thief, who was crucified with Christ, is on the right (holding a cross) and escorting the righteous into paradise. Two angels stand on either side of the enthroned Mother of God.

In my final post on the Chora, I will include some of the other rich decorations that make this such an extraordinary Byzantine church.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s