Sviata Sofiia in Kyiv

Date: 1037–46
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Ukraine
Description: The Grand Prince Jaroslav the Wise (r. 1019–54), son of the first Rus' convert to Christianity, had a new cathedral built in Kyiv and dedicated to Holy Wisdom, Sviata Sofiia or St. Sophia ("Sophia" means "wisdom" and is not the name of a specific saint). It was built by Byzantine craftsmen with a centralized layout and large central dome over the naos, much like Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople. It was mostly decorated with floor-to-ceiling frescoes, but included mosaic decoration in the sanctuary and naos, which were the most sacred spaces in the cathedral. The apse conch depicts a standing Theotokos in an unusual orant pose that reproduces one in the Byzantine imperial palace at Blachernae in Constantinople. Below her is a eucharistic scene in which two angels flank a communion table and Christ (depicted twice) distributes bread and wine to the Apostles. Above the scene is a biblical quotation in Greek ("Take, eat. This is my body...") from Matthew 26:26–28.

In the frescoes reproduced here, you can see a depiction of the Visitation (Elizabeth and Mary embracing), Jaroslav and his family above the west entrance to the naos, and a musician in the hippodrome in Constantinople. Scenes of the hippodrome, the unusual apse conch image, the use of mosaics , and the dedication to Holy Wisdom all helped tie the new Kyivan cathedral to the one in Constantinople and the Kyivan rulers to the well-established Byzantine ones.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 6
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons, Navid Jamali

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Sviata Sofiia, Kyiv, 11th-century apse mosaics above 17th-century screen Sviata Sofiia, Visitation Sviata Sofiia, Jaroslav and his family Sviata Sofiia, Musician Sviata Sofiia, plan