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Life of the Theotokos

Mosaics at the Church of St. Savior in Chora
(Kariye Camii) Constantinople, Turkey
Joachim and Anna visit the temple for their offerings, but are full of
sadness and shame because they have no children. Every Jewish family
believed they could be the ones to bring forth the Messiah, so this was
why having children was so important. Distraught, Joachim goes to the
bushes and prays for an offspring.
An Angel is announcing the good news to Anna about the coming
birth of Mary. Joachim and Anna will bring forth a child the natural
way, and they will meet at the gate as a sign of this gift from God.
Joachim departs from the bushes and meets Anna at the gate. She tells
him of the good news that she received from the Angel of the Lord. They
rejoice together! The scene is inscribed as "The conception of the Theotokos.”
The birth of the Virgin Mary; Anna is lying on the bed accompanied by
several women around her. One woman is holding the newly born baby
in her arms. Joachim is seen near the door watching this event with joy
and amazement.
The first seven steps of the Theotokos; Mary is depicted taking her first steps
when she was 6 months old to her mother Anna.
Virgin Mary caressed by her parents. Joachim and Anna are seated
facing each other and caressing their new child. Nearby a young girl is
depicted stretching out of a window.
The Blessing of Mary; Joachim takes the newly born child to the temple
for the blessing.
Joachim is presenting the Panagia as a child in his arms to the high
priests for a blessing. The Priests of the clergy are depicted as seated
around a table awaiting Joachim. There are two peacocks also depicted
to symbolize the incorruptibility of the Theotokos.
The Presentation of Mary to the Temple; When Mary comes of age 3,
her parents Joachim and Anna present her to the temple and high priest
Zacharias, where she would stay until the age of twelve , as did other
virgins. However, only the Theotokos would be seated in the "The Holy
of Holies" as the inscription reads.
Theotokos is being fed by an Angel with a loaf of bread
once daily during her stay in the Temple.
The Virgin Mary taking the spool of purple wool; Priest are depicted seated and
offering the spool of wool to the Theotokos in order that she weave the veil for
the Temple with royal colors, purple, blue and scarlet.
The Virgin Mary Entrusted to Joseph; High Priest Zacharias prays before the
rods of the widowers and he expects to see a sign for whom Mary should be
given as she came to the age of marriage. When the rods were returned back to
the widowers, Joseph's rod sprouts with green leaves which is considered as the
expected sign and the Virgin is given to Joseph.
On this mosaic Joseph is depicted as taking Virgin Mary to his house.
The Annunciation; Mary receives the good news from the Angel Gabriel about
the forthcoming birth of Jesus Christ. She recognizes the Angel from the Temple
Holy of Holies, and is not startled by the visitation. Tradition indicates she is
concerned of her virginity being preserved.
Mary and Joseph bid farewell to each other; Joseph departs for six month, and
when he returns, discovers Mary is with child.
The Dormition of the Theotokos; (Located inside the Nave, above the door) The Mother
of God has fallen asleep, giving her soul up to Christ in the presence of the beloved
disciples who were transported from mission lands to be present, all except Thomas.
One View; The inner and outer narthexes are covered with mosaics scenes
from the life of the Mother of God, and the earthly life and miracles of Christ.
The Church of St. Savior in Chora - (Kariye Camii) Constantinople, Turkey

Most of the mosaic photographs and brief descriptions can be found at