This fresco in Chora Church in
Istanbul, Turkey depicts Jesus presenting himself to Adam and Eve
and others who died before him, pulling them from their graves. This
event is referenced in 1 Peter 3:18 - 20; 4:6 and Ephesians 4:9. In English, the fresco is called the
Harrowing of Hell. In Greek, it is called the Resurrection.
This fresco reminds us that Jesus
pursued in love all those
who died before him, because he is victorious over sin and death on our
behalf. The resurrection of Jesus was portrayed in this way starting around
the 6th century. An early Christian song proclaims: “Christ is raised from
the dead, by death conquering death” (Troparion of Pascha)
This is a
traditional Ethiopian cross. Christian faith reached Ethiopia probably
through a court official narrated in Acts 8, building upon the Judaic faith
already present there - which came with the Queen of Sheba, according to
tradition. Circa 330 AD, Athanasius of Alexandria, Egypt, ordained Frumentius to be Aba Salama, the first Abuna of the Ethiopian Church.
This is the south
dome in Chora Church, a Greek Byzantine church, now a museum. It represents
the genealogy of Jesus surrounding a mosaic of Christ Pantocrator. Photo
credit: Vagrants of the World.
This copper and
silver candlestick holder was made by Dawud ibn Salama al-Mawsili in Syria in
1248/9 under the Muslim Ayyubid dynasty. Although the decorative style is
typical of Islamic art, there are scenes from the life of Jesus: the Baptism, the
Presentation in the Temple, and the Wedding at Cana.
It was featured in a collection of beautiful Asian
Christian art. It may have been a gift from a Syrian Christian
to the Muslim Ayyubid sultan. The candlestick holder reminds us of the
Christian vocation of bearing light to others, even when the larger culture
is not Christian, by bringing cultural forms of beauty into dialogue with
Jesus. Photo credit: Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore (see this
This is a mosaic of
Jesus from the
basilica Santi Cosma e Damiano in Rome,
which was converted from pagan to Christian use in 527 AD. Jesus was
probably dark-haired and dark-skinned, as reflected here.
This is the
interior of the
Mor Gabriel Monastery in southeastern
Turkey, established in 397 AD. It is the oldest surviving Syrian Orthodox
monastery in the world.