2008-09. Egg tempera on dry plaster.
The tone is set by Old Testament themes and personages, appropriate to a "preliminary" space leading into the main space of the nave. As the church is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the largest mural spaces are devoted to the theme of the Angels, and a large image of St Michael greets the viewer at the right of the eastern portal. However, the ceiling and the upper register of the southern, eastern, and northern walls, are devoted to a distinct theme, that of the mysterious appearances of the Lord in angelic form. As the traditional image under the main dome of the nave of an Orthodox church is often that of Christ the Pantokrator, so here, in a narthex, the hierarchically superior position is given to the Word of God as "Angel of Great Counsel" [cf. Isaiah 9.6, LXX]. The upper register of the walls additionally shows the movement from the creation, the fall, and the expulsion from Paradise to the finding of the Holy Land and the prefigurations of Mary. A cherub with flaming sword, part of the expulsion scene, keeps watch above the western gateway out of the church, but an image of the Mother of God graces the analogous position above the eastern portal, symbolising the re-entry to Paradise. In this way, all of the themes—the drama of the Old Testament, the activity of the Angels, the appearance of the Logos, and the preparation for the Salvation of man—come together in the image of the Theotokos Oranta above the portal into the nave.