This mosaic is at the foot of the icon of the Virgin Mary who holds her Son who is the source of the living water. The connection is stunning.
Next to the image of the deer slaking their thirst for living water is this floor mosaic.
Notice the anchor (hope); the pomegranate in the lower right hand corner is a symbol of the resurrection and hope of eternal life. The many seeds represent the many believers who have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb and united in one Catholic Church. The seeds from the pomegranate are also likened to Christ bursting forth from the tomb.
Grapes and baby animals all symbolize the renewal of creation through the Resurrection of Jesus.
Another early Christian tradition associates this cave with the Holy Family during their refuge from flight from Herod the Great.
Floor mosaic camel.
The Monastery of Saint Gerasimus was founded in the 5th century near the cave of Saint Gerasimus, who participated in the Council of Chalcedon. it was destroyed by the Persians in 614, and rebuilt by the Crusaders; restored in the 12th century; rebuilt in 1588; destroyed around 1734, and reestablished around 1885.
Icon screen in the major church. Notice the influence of Western art on the icons.
Although Saint Gerasimus was born in Lycia in southern Turkey his monastic quest led him from Turkey to the monastic establishments of Egypt and then on to Palestine near the river Jordan, where he established a monastery near the Jordan River near Jericho. His feast is March 5 in the West and March 4 in the East, as he is venerated in both West and East. One charming story in his hagiography is that he pulled a thorn out of the paw of a lion, which is commemorated in the mosaic work in the church. It is one of many beautiful mosaics in the monastic establishment.
A beautiful Tau cross in a geometric circle. Saint Anthony of the 3rd century and one of the first Christian monks used a crutch in the shape of a Tau. When he visited another monk, he would place the cross outside the cave as a symbol of communion of God.
Entrance into the Monastic Chapel.
The intricacy of the mosaics is truly stunning.
The Cave Church also has some beautiful floor mosaics.
The Church of the Nativity is undergoing a 19 million dollar restoration. The mosaics which have been hidden for centuries are being uncovered and restored by a team of Italians. The project is being financed by the Palestinian government, the Vatican, the King of Morocco and countries and churches around the world. What a treasure to be restored so pilgrims can delight for many more centuries in the beauty that extols the beauty of God Incarnate in human flesh and blood.
In the center of the floor mosaics in the upper church is the symbol of the Triune God.
The eight prophets who foretold the coming of Jesus.
The penultimate circle has the evangelists and the signs of the zodiac.
The circle quotes Proverbs 8:23-25.
Ab aeterno ordita sum et ex antiquis antequam terra fieret
necdum erant abyssi et ego iam concepta eram necdum fontes aquarum eruperant
necdum montes gravi mole constiterant ante colles ego parturiebar.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth.
The crypt of the Abbey. The main altar which depicts our Lady as Queen of the Apostles on Pentecost. The inscription says:
Et factus est repente de caelo sonus tamquam advenientis spiritus vehementis et replevit totam domum…
And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house…
A life size statue of the sleeping Virgin made of rosewood and ivory.
The mosaic shows Jesus ready to receive the Virgin Mary into heaven. Notice the six women from the Bible: Eve, Miriam, Jael, Judith, Ruth, and Esther.
The main altar.
This is Dormition Abbey, on Mount Sion where tradition says Mary was assumed into heaven from this place.
Below are side altars in the main church.
(This is John the Baptist. His banner reads “Behold the Lamb of God.”).
Queen of the Prophets, Daughter of David.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse.
Queen of the Patriarchs, Pray for us.
“Italian restoration workers at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem have been showing off a stunning mosaic of an angel that was previously hidden beneath plaster.”
The BBC website prevents embedding the video, which is less than two minutes long, so please click through to see the stunning restoration.
Pious tradition says that the Annunciation was at a well and that is shown here in the Chora Church.
You may wish to follow the path of Advent accompanied by Bishop Robert Barron.
The Church of the Holy Savior in Chora is now a museum in the Fatih district of Istanbul. It is rich in mosaics.
This mosaic is over the doorway of the inner narthex. The Greek inscription reads: Jesus Christ, the Land of the Living. Jesus holds the scripture in his left hand and blesses us with his right hand.
To the left of Jesus is Theodore Metochites in his oriental garments. Theodore completed the construction all the church endowed it with its frescoes and mosaics.
“In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis (Greek: δέησις, “prayer” or “supplication”), is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels. Mary and John, and any other figures, are shown facing towards Christ with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity.”
Read the rest, from Wikipedia on “Deesis.”
The mosaics of Emperor Joannes I Comnenos and Empress Irene and Alexius II. The Emperor is holding a purse in his hand as a symbol of an imperial donation to the church. The Empress is holding a scroll in her hand with the inscription Pious Augusta Irene.
Mosaic of Empress Zoe and Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos.