Christ Chalkites and Virgin Mary Panel

The mosaic in the east lunette wall at the southern wing of the inner narthex depicts Chora’s scene of Deesis. Here, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is depicted while standing on the right side of Jesus Christ and sadly praying for the redemption of people’s sins. This scene owes its name to its resembling the scene on the “Chalke Gate”, the bronze gate that was the main entrance to the Great Palace. Princess Isaac Komnenos next to the skirt of the Virgin Mary and Princes Maria Palaiologina wearing nun’s robes on the right side are depicted while praying on bended knees. Probably, this mosaic panel should belong to persons who served the church and funded its renovation in the 12th and 14th centuries. Maria, the daughter of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, was sent to Karakorum in 1265 as a spouse for the Mongol ruler Hulagu Khan, but Hulagu Khan died before her arrival in Karakorum, and she was married to his son, Abaqa Khan. Because of this marriage, she is called Maria of the Mongols. After becoming a nun, she took the monastic name Melania.

Since Princess Maria became a bride of the Mongols and Isaac Komnenos had his burial place prepared in Kosmosoteria, Thrace, neither of them could be buried in the Chora.