Deesis, Apse (conch), Chapel of Saint Catherine, Chapel 21
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Deesis, Apse (conch), Chapel of Saint Catherine, Chapel 21

The Deesis is represented in the conch of the apse. This composition is common in churches in Cappadocia during the 11th century. The figure of Christ dominates the scene. He sits on a large throne without a back. He holds one hand in a blessing and in the other he holds a book on his left knee. Part of his face is destroyed. The intercessors, which stand on either side of the figure of Christ, are turned towards Christ. These two intercessors are the Virgin Mary on the north side and John the Baptist on the south side.

Creation Date
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Work Type
Format Medium

A thin coat of lime was applied to the rock and the figures have been painted straight on the smoothed rock. The color scale is limited to red and yellow ochre. The drawing is in dark ochre or black ochre. There is an abundance of white high-lighting on the faces. The painter started with a grey undercoat (proplasmos) and then put on a white transparent wash.

Original Location

Chapel of Saint Catherine, Chapel 21, Göreme, Cappadocia

Specific Location

Apse (conch)

Historical Context

The chapel is situated among the monasteries of Karanlı and of Çarıklı Kilise on the eastern side of the circle of monasteries in Göreme Park. The church includes an image of Saint Catherine with a female donor near the sanctuary, and for this reason it is traditionally associated with Saint Catherine. The donor is named Anna.

The entrance of the church is comprised of a domed cruciform narthex in which previous users have carved burials into the floor. The narthex includes nine floor graves and two arcosolia (burial niches). It is followed by a larger naos of the same shape with a dome and a single apse. The dome rises above a drum of blind niches and rudimentary pilasters. The apse has an elevated templon screen. The central entry of the apse is arched. The screen also includes small lateral arched openings and an open lunette above. An eroded altar was connected to the wall in the apse. The apse includes two carved niches, one to the right of the entry (to the southeast), the other in the apsidal wall (to the north edge).

Patrons and Others


Descriptive Notes

In the Deesis, a large piece is broken off on the left, including parts of the head of Christ. In other figures attempts have been made to throw stones at the eyes.

Current Repository

Open-air Museum of Göreme (Outside of Göreme Center on the road to Üçhisar)

Secondary Sources

Cave monasteries of Byzantine Cappadocia, Byzantine wall painting in Asia Minor, Les églises byzantines de Cappadoce : le programme iconographique de l’abside et de ses abords, Etudes cappadociennes, Sacred art of Cappadocia : Byzantine murals from the 6th to 13th centuries, Les saints et leur sanctuaire à byzance : textes, images et monuments, La Cappadoce médiévale : images et spiritualité, Caves of God : Cappadocia and its churches, Caves of God: the monastic environment of Byzantine Cappadocia, Spätbyzantinische Wandmalerei in den Höhlenkirchen Kappadokiens in der Türkei, The Byzantine wall paintings of Kiliçlar Kilise : aspects of monumental decoration in Cappadocia, Byzantinische Apsisnebenräume : Untersuchung zur Funktion der Apsisnebenräume in den Höhlenkirchen Kappadokiens und in den mittelbyzantinischen Kirchen Konstantinopels, Templonanlagen in den Höhlenkirchen Kappadokiens, The liturgical planning of Byzantine churches in Cappadocia, Kapadokya kaya kiliselerinde üç gün, Upper-Story Chapels Near the Sanctuary in Churches of the Christian East,
The Problem of Provincialism: Byzantine Monasteries in Cappadocia and Monks in South Italy, Survey of the Byzantine Settlement at Çanh Kilise in Cappadocia: Results of the 1995 and 1996 Seasons, Middle and Later Byzantine Wall Painting Methods. A Comparative Study, Apostolic Monasticism at Tokalı Kilise in Cappadocia, Haut Moyen-Age en Cappadoce, Une nouvelle province de l’art byzantin : les églises rupestres de Cappadoce, Les Femmes et le monachisme byzantin : actes du symposium d’Athènes, 28-29 mars 1988 = Women and byzantine monasticism : proceedings of the Athens symposium, 28-29 March 1988, Painted Sources for Female Piety in Medieval Byzantium

Photo Credit
Dina Boero
Dina Boero
Image of Deesis, Apse (conch), Chapel of Saint Catherine, Chapel 21.