Garo Nalbandian

Masterful mosaics once paved the entire church at Kursi, traditional site of the “swine miracle.” Unfortunately, only about 60 percent of the original 8,600 square feet of mosaic paving has survived. Although the floral and geometric designs remain intact in many areas (see close-up), the images of birds and other animals that decorated the side aisles of the nave (foreground) were obliterated in the eighth century by Moslems enforcing the Islamic prohibition against representations of humans and animals. The head of a bird can still be seen, however, peeking out at lower left. A few other mosaic birds wholly escaped destruction because they lay under fallen columns or blocked-off entranceways.