Hagia Sophia Mosaics

Mosaic of Leo VI

Located on the Emperor Door, the mosaic of Leo VI dates to the 9th century. This interesting mosaic has a humorous story. Emperor Leo VI married to a pious woman who preferred to sleep in a mat to be able to rise for pray frequently. Not having had a heir, the Emperor married to Zoe as soon as his wife died. However, Zoe died just giving him a daughter.  When Leo VI married third time, he was condemned by the clergy. But his new wife gave him a son who died at birth.

Leo VI didn’t give up and decided to marry again. Finally, he had a son with his fourth wife. But this time he was punished by the church.

In this mosaic, we see Leo VI to be performing proskynesis (an act of homage). Christ is enthroned with 2 roundels of Mary and Gabriel. He wears a chiton. Mary’s hands are outstretched to Christ to forgive Leo. Christ is holding a script written: ‘’Peace be upon you. I am the light of the world.’’


About the author


Hagia Sophia Research Team (HSRT) consists of a group of people who likes to research Byzantine Heritage in Turkey by visiting and taking photos of the historical places.

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1 Comment

  • Hello,

    What is the reason that Archangel Gabriel is depicted in this mosaic?
    I mean, why Gabriel? Why they chooses him? Why not Michael or Uriel?
    Is it something special with Hagia Sophia or Christ?