7/50.- Istanbul, Mosaic of the Virgin and Child 9th c.


Aya Sofya was an imperial mosque for almost 500 years, until 1934 when Kemal Ataturk suspended worship services and declared it a national museum. The mosaics have been gradually uncovered, in the 19th c. by the brothers Fossati and in the early 20th c. by The Byzantine Institute of America; since 1993 work of restoration and preservation conducted by international teams of experts under the aegis of Unesco added Hagia Sophia to the list of the 100 most endangered world monuments.

In the photo you can see the mosaic of the Virgin enthroned "the living throne of the Pantocrator", the oldest mosaic of Hagia Sophia, dated 9th c. Sitted on a jeweled throne Virgin Mary holds Christ Child in her lap, in an protective affectionate attitude. Looking at the mosaics one cannot but agree with Gregory of Nyssa the "Cappadocian father" who in the 4th c. wrote: "The silent painting speaks on the walls and does much good."

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