Photograph by Erich Lessing

ON THE COVER: Summoned before King Herod, the three wise men, or magi, tell the king that the star of Bethlehem has appeared. Trying to trick the magi into leading him to the infant Jesus so that he can kill him, Herod instructs them to find the child and to report his location so that Herod can “worship” him. Bearing a golden box of treasure for the child, the magi depart.

This dazzling and intricate mosaic in Istanbul’s Kariye Djami Church was commissioned by Theodore Methochites in the early 14th century, as part of his renovation of the small, third-century structure.