Easter marks the end of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of the Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. The New Testament teaches that his resurrection, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The Resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God, and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. God has given Christians “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life.
While our two mosaic works of Jesus are not traditionally representative of the meaning of Easter, we have included them in our Easter greeting card collection. The holiday is one of celebration, and it is our feeling that the Ministry of Christ is certainly in keeping with the spirit of Easter.
Mosaic is the art of creating images with a grouping of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral. Small pieces, normally roughly cubic, of stone or glass of different colors known as tesserae, are used to create a pattern or picture. The featured Mosaic here is a Sixth century Mosaic from the San Apollinare Nuovo Church in Ravenna, Italy.
The sacking of Constantinople by French and Venetian knights of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 caused the decline of mosaic art for the next five decades. After the re-conquest of the city by Michael VIII Palaiologos in 1261, the Hagia Sophia was restored and a beautiful new Deesis was made on the south gallery. This huge mosaic panel with figures two and a half times life size is overwhelming due to its grand scale and superlative craftsmanship. The Hagia Sophia Deesis is probably the most famous Byzantine mosaic in Constantinople.
In Byzantine art and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis (“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 other figures, are shown facing towards Christ with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity. Originally, it was often placed on the templon beam in Orthodox churches as well as above doors, though it also appeared on icons and devotional ivories. In the actual Mosaic in the San Apollinare Nuovo Church, Christ is enthroned amid four angels.