On the lowest zone of the apse in the bema area, the Hierarchs of the Orthodox Christianity are depicted. By contrast to the vitality of the Apostles above, there is an obvious frontality in the way the Holy Fathers are depicted. They have a vertical posture and they do not seem to bend towards the centre of the scene as later depictions do. From left to right the figures are recognised as: Dionysius the Areopagite, Gregory, Basil, Chrysostom, Nicholas and Ignatius Theophorus. Each one of them holds a closed book and they are dressed in plain phelonia, except the Chrysostom who is depicted with a polystavrion phelonion (containing crosses) and holding a liturgical cross. As the Communion of Apostles above, the hierarchs belong to the original wall-painting programme of the church.

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The episode of the Annunciation is divided on each side of the two apse responds of the bema area, resulting in a visual interplay. This dates to the 1105 A.D. On the north side, an angel appears in action, holding a wand with a fleur-de-lis made of valuable stones on top. On the south side of the apse, the Virgin is depicted on a throne and holding a spindle and scarlet wool. Customary as it was, Mary was weaving a veil before entering the Temple.

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The figures of Saint Mary of Egypt and Saint Zosimus are depicted on both sides of the arch of the sanctuary. Together they make up the Communion of Mary and are dated to the first decoration cycle of Asinou.
Mary used to live a dissolute life for several years in Alexandria but she turned to God at the Holy Sepulchre on the feast day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Following her conversion to Christianity, she decided to live in the desert as an eremite for almost fifty years. However, monk Zosimus found her, offering his mantle to hide her nudity. She accepted his gesture and started telling her story to him. Then she asked him to meet the following year at the bank of the Jordan River in order to receive Communion. So it happened but the year after that, he found her dead at the exact same place and buried her along with a lion.
Mary is depicted with a dark-coloured skin, indication of her long morally corrupt life. The painter also draws her as a skinny figure with wild hair and features, showing her beauty after a long time of fasting and isolation. Her face can be described as wild, an additional sign of her long-lasting estrangement from people.
Saint Zosimus from the other side of the arch holds the chalice and the spoon from which Mary received the Communion, while he stares at her.
This representation of the Communion of Mary at Asinou is one of the earliest depictions of the scene which became a popular theme for ecclesiastical iconographical programmes later on, even though placed in different areas within the naos. Besides that, its location is a paradox yet appropriate for the visual interplay established

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Saint John the Merciful, dressed in a prelate’s uniform, is depicted in the prothesis recess, the northern counterpart area of diakonikon. He is a local saint, as his birthplace was Amathus and his parents were Cypriots.
The portrait of Saint John within the sanctuary does not conform to the customary depiction. Although Thesia was the traditional scene depicted in the prothesis where the Holy Sacraments were prepared, this scene had not yet been iconographically developed.

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The scene of the Nativity of Mary occupies the lunette’s tympanum on the northern wall within the bema area and according to stylistic terms, it is dated to the original programme of the mural decoration of the church.
The episode consists of two scenes. The larger one shows Anna, mother of Mary, sitting on a bed, two maids bearing food and Joachim overlooking his spouse from an open window. Additionally, on the right corner below, two maids are bathing the new-born Mary.
Inspiration for the stylistic representation of the episode is drawn from the pagan art. A representative example in the Cypriot context is the ‘Birth of Achilles’ mosaic in Nea Paphos, dated to the fifth century A.D

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On the lower zone of the north-east recess within the bema area, Romanus Melodus the Hymnographer is depicted. Along with him, there are other saints who cannot be identified due to the poor preservation of the frescoes

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The church of Panagia Phorbiotissa, better known as Panagia of Asinou, is situated in the north foothills of the Troodos mountain range. It is built on the east bank of a stream, three kilometers south of the village of Nikitari. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia Forbiotissa used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of the Monastery of Forbion, as its name implies. According to the dedicatory inscription above its south entrance, which is dated to 1105/6, the church was built with the donation of Magistros Nikephoros Ischyrios, who subsequently became a monk with the name Nikolaos. The monastery was founded in 1099 and it functioned until the end of the 18th century, when it was abandoned. The church consists of two parts: the vaulted single-aisled nave and the narthex, which is a later addition belonging to the second half of the 12th century. The narthex with its two semi-circular apses belongs to a type directly influenced by Constantinople. Already from the 12th century a steep-pitched timber roof, covered with flat tiles, sheltered the church. Today no traces of the rest of the monastic buildings survive.

Files:

Main Floor Plan PDF| DWG | PCP|DWG
Site Plan PDF| DWG | PCP| DWG
East Elevation - North Elevation PDF| DWG | PCP|DWG|DWG
South Elevation - North Elevation PDF| DWG | PCP|DWG|DWG
Section 1 - Section 2 PDF| DWG | PCP|DWG|DWG
Section 3-Section 4-Section 5-Section 6 PDF| DWG | PCP|DWG|DWG|DWG|DWG
Section 7-Section 8-Section 9-Section 10 PDF| DWG | PCP|DWG|DWG|DWG|DWG
3D View 1 PDF| DWG | PCP| DWG
3D View 2 PDF| DWG | PCP| DWG
3D View 2 PDF| DWG | PCP| DWG
3D View 4 PDF| DWG | PCP| DWG
3D Axonometric PDF| DWG | PCP| DWG
Finite Element Simulation Link
Asinou Materials Link
Monument Frescos
Longitudinal section in the church and the narthex, to the north (1-1)
Longitudinal section in the church and narthex, to the south (2-2)
Transverse section in the sanctuary to the east (3-3)
Transverse section in the sanctuary to the west (4-4)
Transverse section in the nave (central part) to the east (5-5)
Transverse section in the nave (central part) to the west (6-6)
Transverse section in the nave (western part) to the east (7-7)
Transverse section in the nave (western part) to the west (8-8)
Narthex's transverse section to the east (9-9)
Transverse section in the narthex to the west (10-10)

 

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