The Two Annunciation Mosaics in the Apse of the Euphrasian Basilica



6th century and 1277
Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Croatia

The Annunciation was pictured on the inner wall of the apse in the 6th century and again in the 12th century above the arch of a new ciborium. The mosaic on the ciborium mostly follows the iconography on the apse wall: Mary sits on a throne before a temple-like structure and holds a distaff. The angel holds a sceptre and wears sandals and a flowing mantle over a toga-like garment. The major difference between the two is the distance between the two figures on the ciborium, which is typical of medieval Annunciations. Mary's right hand also gestures differently: palm-out on the ciborium, finger to chin in the apse. Surprisingly, the sceptre in the ciborium is more archaic than the one in the apse, with a cube-shaped top.

The inscription above the ciborium is angelus inquit ave quo mundus solvitur a v[a]e, "The angel said 'Ave' ['Hail'], you by whom the world is save 'a vae' ['from shame']. Dreves (#97, p. 143) prints a 15th-century verse that was sometimes added to the Salve Regina and that continued the pun by relating Ave and a vae to Eve: Felix mater, ave, qua mundus solvitur a vae / Quae genitrix Evae vae fecit omnia breve, "Hail blessed mother by whom the world is saved from the shame that mother Eve brought on all."

The ciborium photograph in full resolution
The apse photograph in full resolution
More of the Annunciation

Photographed at the basilica by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.