John The Forerunner
Saint John the Forerunner, is depicted on the lowest part of the southern side of the soffit on the eastern arch of the narthex. Along with Christ and Virgin the Merciful constitute an iconographic Deesis. Nevertheless, traditionally John is placed next to the Virgin and not next to Jesus as in Asinou. Christ, though, is perceived equally to Mary.
John is dressed in a grey goatskin with sleeves and a scarf knotted in front. His posture declares respect towards Christ as his head is inclined. He blesses with his right hand and on his left he holds an open scroll. On the scroll the following passage, extracted from Matthew 3:2 and 4:17, is written: 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near'. Its message emphasises repentance during the course of our life, the most determining precondition for the salvation of the soul. This message is in great accordance with the meaning of Deesis and the Second Coming.
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 within the cyclical procedure of response. John preaches that the Kingdom of Heaven will not be late and evokes the humankind that only though repentance they will 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.