The Virgin Nativity Cathedral
Western Façade


Dionisy's frescoes. Deesis

Deesis (from Greek – “supplication”), a composition, consisting of the Theotokos and John the Baptist at the head of saints praying in front of Christ Pantocrator. On the western façade of the Nativity Cathedral the central figure of enthroned Christ in a medallion is flanked on the sides by seven figures: the Theotokos, John the Baptist, archangels Michael and Gabriel, apostles Peter and Paul and apostle John the Evangelist (?)

The Theotokos

John the Baptist
the last of the prophets, the precursor, who announced the coming of Jesus Christ. He is the son of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, who was a cousin of the Mother of God. Called by “the word of God” (Luke 3:2) John the Baptist preached “in the wilderness of Judea” (Matthew 3:1) and “all the region around the Jourdan” (Luke 3:3). His preaching of repentance and the imminent coming of the Messiah and the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 3:2) attracted a great deal of disciples and followers. As an outward sign of repentance and spiritual renewal John the Baptist chose a ceremony of “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3), ablution in water that Jesus Christ among many others submitted to in waters. of the Jordan. At this the covenant came true: “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” (John 1:33). John the Baptist was executed by Herod Antipas for condemning his illegal marriage to Herodias. Feast days: 7 (20) January (Synaxis), 24 February (9 March), 24 June (7 July), 29 August (11 September He is also depicted in the composition The Last Judgement and in the semidome of the altar.

Archangel Michael
One of the seven archangels, the leader of the celestial army in a battle with Satan (Jude 12:7), the protector of Israel (Daniel 10:13 etc.) Feast days: 6 (19) September; 8 (21) November.

Archangel Gabriel
One of the seven archangels (Tobit 12:15) who understood the vision of prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16) and revealed to Zechariah the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-20), to Virgin Mary, the birth of Jesus Christ the Saviour (Luke 1:26-38). In divine service he is characterized as “pre-eternal wisdom enlightening the whole universe”. Feast day: 26 March (8 April).

Saint Peter the Apostle
(the second figure on the left),
the leading apostle, whose original name before the calling was Simon, son of Jona and brother of apostle Andrew (John 1:40-42), fisherman from Bethsaida. He was one of the 12 disciples whom Jesus chose for preaching the word of God; he was crucified in Rome by order of the emperor Nero. The author of the two epistles included into the New Testament. Feast day: 29 June (12 July). He is also represented in the evangelic compositions and akathist scenes as well as in the Last Judgement.

St. Paul the Apostle
the original name before calling - Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, former persecutor of Christians. He was converted into the true faith and was called for apostlolic service and preaching to pagans by God who addressed to him from heaven (Acts 26:12-18). He is the author of fourteen epistles to various Christian communities and persons. Feast day together with St. Peter: 29 June (12 July). He is also represented in the evangelic compositions and akathist scenes as well as in the Last Judgement.
John the Evangelist, one of the 12 apostles, son of fisherman Zebedee, from Bethsaida, disciple of John the Baptist. He was present in all important events of Christ’s life: stood by Christ’s cross; the crucified teacher committed his mother Mary to his care (John 19:26). Together with St. Peter he preached Christ in Jerusalem, but was persecuted by the Sanhedrim and was lashed. Tradition relates that he was sent from Jerusalem to Rome where he endured Nero’s persecution of Christians, was seized and exiled to a deserted island Patmos where he received apocalyptic visions of the future of the Church and the world that constituted the last book of the New Testament: the Book of Revelation. He spent his last years at Ephesus where he wrote three epistles and the fourth Gospel. Feast days: 8 (21) May and 26 September (9 October). He is also depicted on the north-eastern pendentive, in the evangelic compositions and akathist scenes as well as in the Last Judgement.