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Theotokos is placed on the left hand side of the entrance from the naos to the narthex. Along with her son who is portrayed on the right side of the entrance and John the Forerunner, painted next to Jesus, they create a Deesis. Deesis constitutes an integral part of the iconographic representation of the Last Judgement functioning as an intercessor. Concurrently, the placement of these three important figures of Christianity in the lower band of frescoes in the narthex which traditionally includes depictions inspired by the sanctoral cycle, strengths the saints’ prayers for the salvation of the humankind.
The portrait of Virgin has been painted over the initial fresco layer which is visible on the lower right corner.
The same representation motif can be seen flanking the bema, leading to a visual correlation between the two. The Virgin has turned to her son, holding an open scroll, and her sigla Mother of God the merciful, depicted on each side of her halo. Her iconographic form is of the Intercession type as she is the principle figure serving as median between Christ and humankind.
The text of the scroll she holds contains a two-verse dialogue with Christ asking for redemption. However, she does not seem literally to speak. The poem is written in the third person, driving you mentally to a meeting with her and Christ. The written text is: 'The Virgin offers her motherly entreaties, she steers him toward the salvation of mortals'. As has been noted through the poem depicted on the scroll at Asinou the Virgin intervenes with her son on behalf of each supplicant depicted on the church’s frescoes to ask for their salvation.
Contextualising Deesis in the whole iconographic program of the narthex of Asinou, it functions as a key image either by its placement, the selection of inscriptions or the gestures of each figure and serves a number of roles. Firstly it is part of the Last Judgement. Then it copies the iconography of the Deesis on the templon and sets zones of prayer and gradual holiness from the narthex to the church. And lastly, Deesis has the role of the recipient of the intercessions of the saints depicted in the narthex, the individuals or groups of donors portrayed on the walls, the brotherhood of the monastery and every person participating in the services. These roles can be enclosed with the cyclical procedure of response. John preaches that the Kingdom of Heaven will not be late and evokes in humankind that only though repentance will they earn a place in Heaven. Mary, on the other hand, asks from her son the salvation of humans and, in turn, Christ gives back a new command, to love one another, as a precondition. Therefore, if those commands are fulfilled, then Jesus Eleemon as He is, will show mercy and will bless the faithful.




Digital Heritage Research Lab of Cyprus University of Technology




Digital Heritage Research Lab of Cyprus University of Technology
Library of Cyprus University of Technology

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Digital Heritage Research Lab of Cyprus University of Technology





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Απαγορεύεται η δημοσίευση ή αναπαραγωγή, ηλεκτρονική ή άλλη χωρίς τη γραπτή συγκατάθεση του δημιουργού.


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Ioannides, Marinos, “Theotokos,” Αψίδα, accessed December 5, 2020,