The Greek inscriptions reads ΙΔΕΟUCCOU IΔΟUCΜΗΡCOU. Transliterated into English this read IDEOUSSOU IDOUMETERSO and translates as ‘Behold thy son, Behold thy Mother’. This inscription refers specifically to the Bible verse, John 19.26-7. Jesus, dying upon the cross, addresses his faithful disciple John and his mother, Mary, asking that they behold one another as mother and son. The reverses of such enkolpia would often feature the Virgin Mary, surrounded by the four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
To disocver more about Byzantine art, please visit our relevant blog post: The Byzantine Empire, Art and Christianity.