National Geographic : 1964 Jan
the finest extant examples of Byzantine book illumination. Among them was a striking, millennium-old lectionary, composed of se lections from the four Gospels to be read dur ing the services. Several full-page miniatures precede the text, including one of a stately Virgin (oppo site). In spite of its small scale, this portrait strikes the viewer as monumental. The Vir gin's graceful stance reflects the classical her itage of Greece and Rome. The unusually tall proportions and the unapproachability ex- pressed in the face are Byzantine. The golden background increases the element of unreal ity-hence of spirituality. Tradition says this striking manuscript, which can be dated about A.D. 1000, was a gift from the Byzantine throne. Its super lative workmanship makes this seem more than likely. If so, it constitutes but one more irony in the fate that erased Byzantium and its emperors from history but preserved a remnant of their greatness in a far and lonely fortress. THE END His Holiness Athenagoras I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (center), and His Beatitude Porphyrios III, Archbishop of Sinai, carry St. Catherine's relics on her feast day.