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Mosaic North Wall

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Mosaic North Wall
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Photo Comments

View of the restored mosaics along the north wall of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  Large register, below the windows, depicts the key decisions of six provincial councils.

The one on the right, inscribed in Greek within a church, is from the Council of Antioch (AD 277).  The name "Antioch" is spelled out above the church—6 letters to the left of the dome and three to the right.  The text reads: "the Holy Synod of Antioch in Syria of 33 bishops took place before the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea against Paul of Samosata who held that Christ was a mere man.  The Holy Synod expelled him as a heretic."

The one on the left is from the Council of Sardica (AD 347).  "Sardica" is spelled out above the dome of the church.

Note the angels between the windows.  At the foot of the one third from the right, is the name of the artist—"Basilius Pictor."

"The mosaic decorations on the walls of the nave date to the restoration of 1165–9.  Each side had three registers: the detailed description made by the Franciscan Qaresmius in 1628 enables us to complete the missing sections." (Murphy–O'Connor, pp. 235-36).

Commentary and translation from Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome. The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide From Earliest Times to 1700. Revised and expanded Fifth ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 236.