Haghia Sophia, mosaic above central door

Haghia Sophia, mosaic above central door


Istanbul Hagia Sophia Christ Leo above door

This scene depicts Jesus sitting on a magnificent celestial throne. His right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing, and in His left hand He holds an open book bearing the inscription: Peace be with you. I am the Light of the World. On either side of Jesus, there are roundels. The one on the left portrays the Virgin Mary, and that on the right portrays the angel Gabriel. Jesus, potrayed here as the Pantocrator (King of the World), is dressed in white hiton and himation, and his features resemble Zeus, the king of gods.

The latest research revealed that the bearded emperor prostrate on Jesus’ lower left represents Emperor Leon VI. Although the scene is uncharacteristic of Byzantine iconography, the emperor is depicted imploring Christ ‘s forgiveness.

The subject of the scene is the three marriages of Leo VI, a situation contrary to the doctrine of the Orthodox church. Since the emperor was still without a male heir even after three marriages, he was allowed to marry his mistress Zoe, the mother of his illegitimate son, after a long dispute.

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