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Byzantine Church Iconographic Programs and the Liturgy: The Case of Christ Anapeson

Manuela Studer-Karlen, Université de Fribourg, Summer Fellow 2012

My project concerns the relationship of monumental church programs and the liturgy. As is well known, church decoration in medieval Byzantium often illustrates specific moments of liturgical celebration. In my study, I focus especially on the subject of Christ Anapeson in Byzantine art. The first known image of the Anapeson is in the Pantokrator Monastery of Mt. Athos and dates from the late thirteenth century. Subsequently, the image appears frequently in Byzantine churches of the fourteenth and fifteenth century. Its place within the church is variable; the iconographical details and the accompanying inscriptions are changeable. A point of interest is also to study representations in other materials like manuscripts, icons and textiles as well as the parallels with related scenes. The interpretation of the scene is complex, and there is a need to consider the commentaries on these texts, such as sermons of church fathers and liturgical hymns and prayers. In this way this scene represents an important liturgical ceremony and rite and enables us to draw conclusions about other ceremonies and rites in the Byzantine Church. The conclusions from the study of the representation of the Anapeson and the drawing of comparisons should illuminate our understanding of the experience of the church as a liturgical space used by a wide spectrum of the Byzantine community. The possibility of using the library at Dumbarton Oaks helped me to expand the number of examples substantially (now 55) and to accomplish the forming of conclusions for my thesis.

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