The church of Panagia Drosiani
The Church of Panagia Drosiani, all that survives of
the monastery named after it, is located in inland Naxos,
on the road to the village
of Chalki in Tragaia.
Sources from the 16th and 17th century refer to the Monastery of Our Lady, but
the church is much older, probably dating to the 6th century.
The church is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin , and was built in several phases. The original building was a small, single-nave domed tri-conch built of rough stones in a somewhat clumsy, inexperienced manner. The dome is almost conical and supported by pointed arches; rather than being circular, the base resembles a quadrilateral with rounded corners. The easternmost of the three conches is the sanctuary, with a large biforate arched window that was partly walled up when the church was decorated for the first time in the 7th century. Traces of an episcopal throne are visible in the conch. Α vaulted rectangular structure was added to the west side of the original building in a later phase, with bell towers over the gates of the west and south side.
In the final building phase three chapels were added to the north wall of the extension to the original building. They are contiguous, single-roomed domed structures, with three conches in the outermost chapels. The eastern one appears to have been used as an ossuary and bears remnants of wall paintings.
The church interior was adorned with successive layers of frescoes dated to the 12th, 13th and 14th century. On removal, the original frescoes dated to the 7th century were revealed in the dome, the apse of the central conch and the northern conch of the original church. These are probably the most complete iconographic programme still surviving from the pre-iconoclast era ; dedicatory inscriptions indicate that they were sponsored by many donors, including the Bishop of Sisini.
In the dome, the unique dual representation of Christ as a young boy and mature man with a beard is probably linked to the Monophysite controversy , as an attempt to interpret the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ.
The Ascension is depicted in the sanctuary conch, alongside Panagia Nikopoios (Our Lady Victorious) with Agioi Anargyroi (the Unmercenary Saints) painted in medals in the north conch, above one of the oldest representations of the Supplication. The Virgin Mary is referred to as "Saint Maria"; the presence of Solomon and an imperially robed form identified as the personification of the Church indicates that the fresco is linked to the meaning of the Wisdom of God.
Subsequent painting layers have now been removed from the monument. Those covering the original Ascension of Christ in the sanctuary apse repeat the Supplication theme, and one of them is signed by someone named George. In around 1300 the half-cylinder of the apse was re-decorated with a representation of the Virgin Mary, while individual representations of saints from the 13th and 14th centuries covered surfaces in the sanctuary and northern conch.