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Thursday, January 7, 2016

The mosaics of the Chapel of the Head of Saint John the Baptist

The Russian Orthodox Convent of the Ascension is located in the village of A-Tur on the Mount of Olives. 
The convent is open to the public on limited hours or for organized groups. The place is inhabited by Nuns.

Mount of Olives is the one on the left.

According to Orthodox tradition it is the site where Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after the resurrection.

The Russian Orthodox convent and church were built in 1870-1887.

A 64 meter high bell tower was designed to symbolize the ascension to heaven. It added a remarkable landmark in the Jerusalem's skyline. It was the first Christian bell to operate in Jerusalem.

A chapel behind the church is dedicated to John the Baptist.

On the site of the convent were two 5th Century Armenian churches. One of them was named after John the Baptist. According to tradition his head was found in a jar hidden in a cavity under its floor. Mosaic floors were uncovered during the construction of the convent, and embedded in the chapel's floor.

The mosaic include geometric patterns and depicts Holy Land fruits, birds and animals. 

An Armenian inscription dedicates it to bishop Jacob who built it.

Embedded in this mosaic floor is a deep cavity, seen in the photo below. 

This hole is sacred, since according to the tradition it was the place where the head of John the Baptist was found in a jar, hidden by one of his followers in the 1st C, and rediscovered in the 5th C.

I am a modern mosaic artist with a deep admiration for ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Arts. You can see some of my own mosaics on my site mosaicblues.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for these. I really enjoy seeing obscure mosaics which are rarely photographed.