Cycle of the Infancy of Christ and of Christ's
The sixth bay of the outer narthex includes scenes from both
the Infancy of Christ and the Ministry cycles.
The Massacre of the Innocents is in the south lunette of the sixth
bay . In an attempt to remove his potential rival, Christ,
Herod orders the massacre, and his soldiers set out in pursuit
of innocent Jewish children.
The Soldiers Slaying the Children is in the west lunette of
the sixth bay . The narrative focuses on details to represent
Christ Healing the Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda [121, 128],
in the large domical vault at the southwest corner, originally
contained eight scenes of Christ's healing miracles, of which
significant portions of three remain. In two related episodes
in the northeast corner, the paralytic sits stiffly in bed; miraculously
cured, he carries the bed frame on his back.
Christ Healing the Paralytic at Capernaum is in the southwest
corner of the same vault . Christ addresses the paralytic,
who is richly outfitted in bed and accompanied by four bearers.
Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well is in the northwestern
pendentive of the same vault . Other scenes in this vault
are preserved only in fragments.
Christ Healing the Blind Born  is located in the northeastern
This discussion of the Kariye Camii iconography
is adapted from Robert G. Ousterhout, The Architecture of the Kariye
Camii in Istanbul, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library
and Collection, 1987. We would like to thank Professor Ousterhout
for generously allowing us to adapt his text for this Web site.
The outer and inner narthexes are decorated with mosaic cycles of the lives of
the Virgin and Christ. Both begin at the northern end, with thematic and visual
references linking the two cycles.
The cycle of the infancy of Christ
and of Christ's ministry begins in the domical vault of the first bay of the
outer narthex and concludes in the south bay of the inner narthex. The story
is taken up directly from the previous narrative. As in the inner narthex, the
narratives are sometimes contorted to fit the domical vaults. Normally two different
episodes appear in each vault.