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He spent most of his time outside of Constantinople fighting and was away for years at a time. John had mixed success in making the empire more secure and expanding the reconquest of territory that had been lost to crusader barons and the Turks. In the end he was killed by agents of the Latins of Antioch who poisoned him in order to end his interference and military pressure on their lands in the east.

The Latins believed that his son Manuel was pro-Latin and "one of them". John spent a great deal of time and treasure on the reconquest of the Komnenian homelands around Kastamon in Asia Minor.

After capturing it following a siege of the fortress, John held a public triumph in Constantinople to celebrate it and thank the Theotokos for her role in it. Unfortunately, the Turks soon recaptured Kastamon. John had to return to Constantinople to recover from illness and was not with his troops in Asia Minor when Kastamon was attacked.

Unfortunately, after gaining the fortress through treaty, it was lost once more to the Turks and John was forced to abandon it forever and evacuate the Christian population. John had a serious plan to make the Byzantine lands of Asia Minor secure through the creation of a series of interconnected fortresses and cities along the border and deep right up to the sea.

These strategic points were connected by roads to enable the army to move rapidly to deal with Turkish raids. He built new cities and fortresses that functioned as refuges for the civilian population and their farm or pastoral animals.

He also built large city with a new palace for his family, courtiers and government officials that traveled with him. John usually took his family with him on campaign and some of his children were born virtually on the battlefield.

His family 'occupation' was military and he did not bother to give his boys a formal education. They learned about diplomacy and combat from their dad and his generals in the field. It was a great shame that he lost his oldest two boys before they could succeed him, since they were the best prepared for the job.

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The third, Isaac, was a mess and his father cut him out of the succession. The last born boy, Manuel, was made heir on John's deathbed. Out of the hundreds that were made there are just a few surviving portraits of John. His portrait in Hagia Sophia shows him around 37 years of age tells us he was solidly built and sunburned from his years living outdoors. Below is a marble relief possibly of John II. Perhaps it was set into the facade of the Pantokrator Monastery.

The sculptor has carved the Imperial robes incorrectly; a chlamys was not worn over a loros. It is not clear what this means. Also, the emperor holds an orb surmounted with a Patriarchal cross, which is odd.

Is this marble a Venetian creation imitating a Byzantine original?

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There is a second, almost identical relief in Venice, where this relief was found. These two reliefs have a possible third example in the Istanbul Archeological Museum. The Theotokos had been seen as the protectress of the Empire since the sixth century, but John took this relationship to a new, personal level. The icon was with him at all times, wherever he went.

In this mosaic you can see the Theotokos side-by-side with the Imperial couple. An icon of the this image of the Theotokos was paraded around his military camps to inspire the troops, which was an innovation of his reign.

Stories were circulated among the troops that the Theotokos spoke directly to John. He showed is devotion and humility by walking in front of his Imperial chariot carrying this icon in procession through the streets of Constantinople in thanks for a military victory in Although it may not be apparent to us now, the image of the Theotokos would have appeared hyper-realistic, vivid and even 'alive' to a Byzantine viewer. Her face is modeled with many lines of pink glass which give a vibrant rosy color to her cheeks and chin.

The artist has also used bright red to drawn the lines of the eye-lids and the side of the right nostril. The eyes of the Theotokos and Christ both look directly at the viewer with a disturbing intensity.

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Thankfully, the sides of the Virgin's mouth are softened, which makes the face feel more human. Below is an image of the Imperial Door to the South Gallery. Now this door opens out into space. The wooden staircase was attached to this door.

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Tomas Thomov has provided me with this image. This area was covered with graffiti. The mosaic of John II and Eirene is to the left. She how the floor is messed up. This indicates the amount of traffic that went through the door. On either side of the Theotokos the Emperor presents a bag of money and the empress offers a donation to the church and clergy of Hagia Sophia.

This ceremony took place in the South Gallery and the mosaic records the actual event, which would have been attended by hundreds of people who worked in the Great Church. It has been calculated that the upper galleries of Hagia Sophia could hold around 2, people. The South Gallery would hold around people.

In order to save money John and his father had recently reduced the paid clergy of Hagia Sophia from towhich is still a huge number. All of them could be assembled at one time in the South Gallery.

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This does not include the thousands of staff that ran and maintained the day-today operations of the church. Once a year the clergy was paid their full salary in a money bag like the Emperor holds. Each bag had the amount they carried in gold written on the outside and was tied with a red silk ribbon that carried the Imperial seal in red wax.

Sometimes they received special bonuses or grants during the year outside their annual wages. The emperor was seated at sturdy long table during the presentation of annual salaries with the bags of gold and coin.

All of the senior clergy and staff were handed their bags directly from the hands of the emperor. Annual salaries usually included gifts in kind like food and clothes. Below you can see an exterior view from the 19th century of the eastern wall of the South Gallery. You can see the famous door that used to open onto a great wooden spiral staircase that opened onto an elevated passageway to the Great Palace via the Chalke Gate.

John and Eirene would have used this path to privately enter Hagia Sophia; and would have used it to move up and down between the south gallery and the nave of Hagia Sophia though the Chapel of the Holy Well. The door now opens out into space, because the staircase and passage disappeared long ago. On the inside, on both sides of the door, you can still find graffiti, including one left by a servant named Philip of the Metropolitan of Kiev, Cyprian, probably in he made three trips to Constantinople, so it could have been any one of them which reads " Lord help thy slave Philip, Mikita's son, panter of Cyprian, metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia" in Cyrillic.

There are lots of graffito here, including many inscriptions and drawings of thing like birds and ships. There was some sort of shrine in front of this mosaic. This would have been a place where candles could have been placed. You can see in this diagram of the floor and the marks in the floor.

It looks to me like there was a parapet with columns, too. At Hagia Sophia the clergy was highly trained in the study and interpretation of scripture and preaching. Everything was done in an everyday, educated Greek that everyone could understand. The clergy was the primary way the people learned about world events and Imperial proclamations through homilies and sermons.

The reduction in the number of paid clergy pushed this highly-educated and sophisticated clergy from Great Church out to the provinces, which raised the level of culture there. There was a lack of clergy outside of Constantinople, most priests had multiple churches they served there, so extra priests and deacons were welcome.

Education in the provinces was centered on churches and these clerics would have had an immediate positive impact on their schools. In the late 12th century several of these provincial academies grew in size and reputation to the point that they started to function as self-governing institutions with their own staff and traditions.

These teachers, whether they were in the capital or places like Thessalonika, were focused on two things; one, teaching their students to speak, read and write good Greek and two, instructing them in Orthodox Christian theology. Village students often learned the gospels by memorization before they learned to read. While he was on campaign John would send regular newsletters to the clergy of Hagia Sophia for them to 're-broadcast' to the city the latest news and events from the front.

These scrolled newsletters were copied over hundreds of times and sent all over the empire from where ever the Emperor was residing at the time. A Byzantine Emperor could easily send out letters a day when he was traveling.

Imagine the number of secretaries and scribes that were required. One can expect at least some of them would have been illustrated. These newsletters were a long standing practice. Hundreds of years of them were stored in the Great Palace and were used by historians. The Imperial bureaucrats saved everything. In Byzantium three copies of every contract were required. One copy was for each of the signers and the third was sent to the Imperial archive. When these letters and documents perished they left behind hundreds of thousands of lead seals that were attached to them.

In the middle of this panel the Theotokos offers her precious Son to the world. Thus the Emperor and Empress witness and participate in this act of divine love and share in her grace. Ceremony was very important to court life and everyone in Constantinople was a participant on one level or another.

At the very top was the Imperial family who had a special sacred role and spiritual responsibility to play. Whenever they visited Hagia Sophia they became part of ceremonies that had been refined over hundreds of years.

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This primarily involved the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and prayer services. It is hard for us to imagine a world in which people completely believed that God and saints personally intervened in human history by defending cities and protecting emperors. The Byzantines believed Christ and his mother had really appeared on the walls of the City and intervened to save Constantinople several times in the past.

However, they hoped and prayed for deliverance in and without success. Tens of thousands of them were raped and massacred in Hagia Sophia on May 29th, some in front of this very mosaic.

Why did God abandon them? The panels extend down to almost the level of the windowsill. The marble frame around the Zoe panel is not original and might have been added in the 19th century. It looks like the plain marble cornice above the John panel has been reset, too. When complete, the height of the mosaic was 2.

The width of the panel, from the window which bounds it on the right to the pilaster, is 2. Originally it filled the space between two marble fillets which framed it above and below; now a strip of gold background 5 to 5.

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On the left of the panel, a vertical band of gold background, 13 cm. The surface of the gold background of this panel is somewhat smoother than that of the Zoe Panel. In consequence light is not quite so luminously scattered, but the interstices between the cubes are assertive and prevent the face of the panel from becoming anything like burnished gold or a blank metallic plane.

The earliest known prayer to the Theotokos (Greek, ????????, meaning "Bearer of God") is a prayer found on a fragment of papyrus dating back to approximately AD In , the John Rylands Library [1] in Manchester, England, acquired a large panel of Egyptian papyrus. The prayer is located on the fragment recorded as reference number Greek Papyrus Scholars believe that the image of Saint Paraskeva is contemporaneous with the image of the Theotokos on the other side. This dating seems to confirm the Novgorodian origin of the icon, as it was only in the 15th century that the veneration of Saint Paraskeva spread to other parts of the country. Feb 25,   Theotokos (Greek: ????????, Greek pronunciation: [?eo?tokos]; literally "God-bearer") is a title of Mary, mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern usual Latin translations, Dei Genitrix or Deipara (approximately "parent (fem.) of God"), are "Mother of God" or "God-bearer". The title has been in use since the 3rd century, in the Syriac tradition (as Classical.

The figure of the Theotokos is slightly higher in the picture than the figure of the emperor and of the Empress. It may be supposed that she stood on a low footstool. She holds in front of Her the Christ Child represented in a seated position. Her nimbus is gold with outline of sealing-wax-red, and on either side of her head, in large letters made of black violet glass tessellae are the usual monograms Mother of God. Her countenance is treated as for an icon. The features are sharply drawn was with wide heavy brows, long straight nose, thin, firm-set lips, and blue eyes looking forward in soft serenity.

Marble cubes of deep rose-red suffused with shining white are set closely, interstices scarcely visible, with a conscious assurance that every change from cube to cube will add to the general incorporeal radiance.

In contrast to the representation of flesh and blood attained in the portraits of the Imperial Family, this is a devout religious image, which fondly expresses its creator's understanding of the relation of the Virgin to mankind.

The head and the upper part of the body of the Mother of God are wrapped in a maphorion of white-violet blue, giving the semblance of wool, with crosses woven in gold thread for the forehead and shoulders.

Gold edging frames the face in an unbroken line and hangs almost vertically from the forearms. The end of the mantle, thrown over the left shoulder, is fringed with gold crosses. The cap, covered by the maphorion, is lightest in hue of the vestments, and the chiton, with tight-fitting sleeves, is of the same material and colour.

The garments are not of the fathomless blue found in the figures of the vestibule where the structure and setting of the glass result in indescribable vibration. The impression is of applied colour rather than of colour attained by the breaking of surfaces.

Her hands are relatively small. Around the left thumb is twisted a handkerchief of the appearance of raw silk with a light tendril-green stripe on the sides and fringe.

The Child Jesus has a round chubby face, with large prominent forehead and full chin. Grave black-violet eyes stare from dark hollows. Darkest auburn hair at the back of the head falls in short curls below the ears. Three tiny locks lie in the center of the brow. With a tender sense of color, cubes are set in close precision as in the face of the Virgin. Only the pale-pink tones of the stone here are softer, the range more restricted and the contrast less severe as in the actual fresher flesh of the child.

Christ is dressed in a chiton and himation of tissue of gold, its highlights breaking into crests of silver-green. He wears an undershirt of dark teal-blue the same color is in His halo silk that has been lined in white. Christ gives the Orthodox blessing and holds a parchment scroll of the Gospels.

His head is surrounded by a cruciform nimbus outlined in pale silver-green; silvery limbs of the cross, in gold ground, set off the head in strong relief against stretches of blue.

Here we do not find the simple, pervading, childlike character of the young Christ in the Vestibule panel, but a somewhat hypnotized being superposed on infancy in an effort, perhaps, to evoke a more dogmatic image of ageless divinity. Upwards from the ragged line of the mosaics at the level of the knee the figure of the Mother of God is well preserved.

Her face and hands are slightly scarred by the loss of cubes; more seriously damaged by time is the Child's face, but happily His features are better preserved than John's. The Emperor holding the bag of gold is vested in full ceremonial robes encrusted in jewels; he is drawn like all these figures with firmest contours, his head imperceptibly turned towards the Mother of God. The face is much damaged by time; many cubes had fallen but the fresco painting of the setting-bed, from which we painstakingly removed the plaster, together with the remaining mosaics completely preserve his features.

A study of this head in its shattered state of fresco and mosaic again reveals, as in the figure of Zoe, the technical procedure of the artist. In his fresco painting the artist was able to clarify and integrate his perception, and to prepare for the subtle and baffling organization of his cubes. His individual perception and the symbolism of his subject merge in the final achievement.

John has a broad, full, swarthy face, prominent lower jaw, and s lightly protruding chin, a deeply care-lined forehead, brown eyes with dark arched eyebrows, a firm mouth and tightly closed lips.

His long, thin, wavy moustache is carefully brushed to the sides of a parting and his semicircular well-kept beard is still thick on the lower side of the chin but is growing grey and is thinning towards the cheeks and below the mouth.

The moustache and beard are a lighter tone than the hair. Long dark locks frame the face and hang to the level of the chin.

His complexion is slightly florid although the artist depicts a certain heaviness in an aging face. John stands here august, serious, and in deep gravity - a soldier and a statesman, looking every inch the man in whom his father Alexios placed unalterable confidence as his successor. The emperor wears the kamilaukion, a conical helmet-shaped crown of gold, divided with reddish violet lines of enamel and studded with pearls. Two frontal jewels are surmounted by an equal-limbed cross of pear-shaped stones fixed with their pointed end to the round pearl which forms the center.

The vertical limbs of the cross have the light of rubies, the horizontal, the gold blue of lapis-lazuli. The divitission of the usual imperial reddish-violet silk with floral designs woven in gold is close fitting: the sleeves, adorned with armlets and cuffs, are loose at the shoulder and tight at the wrist; armlets are inlaid with pearls and jewels, the shoulder-piece slopes to the chest beneath the loros.

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Much like those worn by Constantine IX, three-quarters of a century earlier, the shoulder-piece and loros are woven in gold thread and violet silk, bedecked with pearls and with carnelians, beryls and lapis-lazuli, mounted in squares and rectangles whose edges flash with sprays of pearls. The loros, attached to the collar, falls to the waist where it is covered by the part from behind, which is drawn close across the body and is caught up to hang over the wrist.

The lining of the loros, woven a a white silk pattern on a cinnabar-red ground, showing a dentellated circle with a row of short oblique strokes, is visible below the hand. The head of John is framed by an inscription in lambent red. It begins above the head, continues at his left, and finishes at the right. Eirene's real name was Piriska. She married John when she was 18 and had four daughters and four sons with him including at least one set of twinsthe last being born in Their youngest son became the Emperor Manuel I.

Eirene, who died on August 13,was canonized in the eastern church because of her extraordinary acts of charity for the poor. It should be noted that crowns could not be worn in church like this, that her hair is a wig was she really a blond? Women of all classes wore makeup in Byzantium wore face power, rouge, eyeliner and eyeshadow. Eirene died in Bithynia where she was traveling with her husband on a military campaign to retake Kastamouni which had been captured by the emir of Melitene.

The Icon of the Annunciation of the Theotokos

Eirene traveled with her husband on most of his military campaigns which tells us she and her husband were close and enjoyed each other's company. The fact she bore him so many healthy children so close together also tells us she had a strong constitution and she and John were seldom apart. The stiff jewel-robed figure of the empress is represented holding in her long and slender hands a scroll of parchment known to record donations.

Her foreign birth is betrayed by her broad face, wide forehead, and long cold grey eyes. She is pictured in strong contrast to the dark coloring of the emperor. Pallor representing the white powder and pale rouge in her make-up renders her face almost devoid of shadows: mask-like, without a blemish.

In the fashion of the time, her eyebrows are shaved or plucked and are drawn here with cubes imitating the color of walnut juice and honey. Black eyebrows with blond hair were much admired in Irene's time, and the royal coiffeur for this occasion, in acknowledged conformity to taste, elaborated a head-dress for the empress, perhaps by adding to her own hair long, heavy blond tresses.

Her sidelong glance is directed hesitatingly towards the central figure, her lips are pursed, her expression constrained. Until at least the late 19th century it was seen outside the former church, where it had been moved and was used as a fountain.

In it was moved to Hagia Sophia where you can see it in the outer narthex. It was carved with simple crosses in circles, which have almost vanished with time.

Recently, the foremost authority on the Pantokrator, Robert Ousterhout, has pointed out that this tomb is too large to have been moved in through any of the doors of the church. He feels that this tomb came from one of the mausoleums of the nearby Church of the Holy Apostles. When the church was demolished by Mehmet II this tomb was saved. There are 14 marble tombs preserved in Hagia Sophia today, most of them are in the garden. The raiment of the empress is like that of other imperial personages, whose representations in Byzantine art make possible the reconstruction and description of the here partly vanished mosaics.

Over a tunic of which only the high jeweled collar is seen, Irene wears the long imperial divitission of heavy flaming red silk into which is woven with gold thread a profusion of curves, spirals, and flowering scrolls. In the hundred years denoted by the art of these panels, the taste of the the imperial weavers shows no predilection for motives of birds or animals. Wherever in the Near East the origin of the bifurcation of the ivy leaf is sought, the ambit union of these particular forms here creates a new synthesis and reveals a secondary nature from a fresh intuition in the artists of Constantinople in the time of the genius of the Komnenoi.

The long wide opening of the right sleeve is bordered by a running design in blue and gold thickly set with pearls, and the same ornament is repeated on the arm-bands. Partly hidden by the loros, the shoulder-piece is woven in blue floriated design on gold ground, bordered with a double row of pearls, interspersed with gems and trimmed on its edge with sprays of pearls. Around the neck the opening has a string of pearls between rows of small garnets or carnelians.

Like the shoulder-piece the loros is of heavy cloth of gold woven with floriated scroll pattern in deep sapphire blue terminating in jewels and is similarly bordered: it ends over the forearm in a lengthwise fold, leaving only half of the scroll pattern visible.

The girdle is woven in deep sea-green with an oval buckle composed of a carbuncle set in pearls. Below the girdle the shield shaped lower part of the loros is ornamented with a heart-like design in deep blue enhanced by jeweled flowers on a gold ground. The center is a beryl. The empress wears a gold modiolos greatly surpassing all the other crowns in magnitude.

It has the usual semblance of battlemented walls and gates, shining translucently with the lustre of jewels: beryls, carnelians, carbuncles, lapis-lazuli, and with rows of pearls tier upon tier, until sparkling particles on invisible wires appear actually to fly upwards around the cross that surmounts the crown.

Beneath the crown a diaphanous red flame-like veil, thrown back over the head is visible about the hair on both sides and in its pearl trimmed edges above the shoulders. The earrings are pear shaped carnelians or carbuncles in gold setting with three pearl pendants much like the Roman crotalia. The head of Eirene, like that of John, is framed by an inscription in the same red. It begins above the head, continues at her right, and finishes at the left. The inscription of Eirene reads: Eirene the most pious Augusta.

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Alexios was born in and had a twin sister, Maria. He was born while on campaign with his father and mother in the Balkans. He and his three brothers grew up with the army, seeing most of the empire first-hand and even entered some foreign lands.

His father had made him co-emperor in when he was This mosaic was most likely created around the time of his coronation. The name Eirene was commonly given by the Byzantines to foreign princesses who married into the Imperial House. It was an arranged marriage and Alexios had no real choice in the selection of his first wife.

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There were professional portrait artists who worked for the Imperial court. Hundreds of portraits in paint, mosaic and marble depicting the Imperial family for both domestic and international audiences. All of the royal courts of Europe and the Mid-East were sent copies.

We don't know what happened to Dobrodjeja Mstislavna, she must have died because Alexios married a second time to a Georgian princess named Kata, whom he may have met before they married since he traveled all over Asia Minor with his father and could have been presented to her. Alexis had one daughter, named Maria Komnene, who after a wild and troubled life died insane in Alexios died of a brain fever at the age of 36 while on a military campaign against the Turks in Asia Minor with his father in and was buried in the Pantokrator Monastery near his mother.

Tragically, his brother Andronikos died at sea bringing the body of his brother back to Constantinople. His father, John, followed them into death a year later and was laid to rest alongside his wife and sons. The transition from the gold surface of the main wall, on which the John panel is set, to the side of the pilaster with the portrait of Alexios, is effected by a slight rounding of the corner.

The mosaic is preserved on Alexios' right side to a point a little below his waist and, on the left, to a little below his shoulders. There is a great feeling for the power of fundamental colours which set at varying angles to the light produce and endless variety of tones.

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The modeling of the face is in greens and reds and yellowish greys with dashes of whitish cubes that recall the manner of Van Gogh. The hair is darkest lustrous brown, the large sad eyes are hazel with dark lashes and thick eyebrows, the nose thin and straight with delicate wings, the mouth small and sensitive with grieved drooping corners.

A slight swelling is noticeable in the upper part of the face: the boy looks nephritic. It is a troubled, transient face. And this impression is intensified by the nimbus and the robes, where gold leaf is laid over translucent pale green glass enveloping the figure in changeable greenish lights deepening the gloom. This portrait even more than the others painted in ultra-photographic Roman-portrait vision seems yet to recognize the ordinance in Semitic religions against representation.

The crown worn by Alexios is like the one worn by the emperor his father, only the top is a little less pointed and its ornamentation is in different gems. The upper stone in front has the glow of the ruby, the lower, the pallor light sapphire. In both crowns the cross is of pearls, with a gold centre, and the prependulia are alike, save in the form of the crosses at the ends.

This crown - and the crown of his father - really depict the ones they wore. In the Gospel of John IIwhich was produced for the use of his family, there are miniatures of John and Alexios wearing these crowns.

Alexios is vested in a divitission of the same material and pattern-weaving as that worn by the Autocrator. Of this we see but a part of the right shoulder and the outline of the right sleeve, and the entire left shoulder and a narrow strip along the loros. The ornament adorning the sleeve is a plaque of heavy gold tissue crossed by red squares on which pearls are applied and in the centre of which are stones of the hues of amethyst and beryl.

From the open end of the right sleeve projects the tight gold wristlet of the chiton adorned with a stone of beryl and two pearls. Pearls encrust the high collar of the chiton. The shoulder-piece and the loros are also similar to those worn by his father. Throughout the execution of these vestments is more rapid and free than in the figure of the emperor.

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Alexios' hand is small and slender with a narrow wrist. The Orthodox Christian Network is a c 3 corporation. You can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website.

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Online dating for Orthodox Singles might not be a bad idea. With the challenges of meeting other single Orthodox Christians, it seems that Orthodox and Single is a good way to find someone. I look forward to seeing where Orthodox and Single goes. It surely is intriguing. Nativity of the Theotokos. The birth and early life of the Virgin Mary is not recorded in the Gospels or other books of the New Testament, however this information can be found in a work dating from the second century known as the Book of James or Protevangelion. The Theotokos had been seen as the protectress of the Empire since the sixth century, but John took this relationship to a new, personal level. The icon was with him at all times, wherever he went. In this mosaic you can see the Theotokos side-by-side with the Imperial couple.

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