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

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

My project concerns the relationship of monumental church programs and the liturgy. Church decoration in medieval Byzantium often illustrates specific moments of liturgical celebration. In my study, I focused 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 it is necessary to consider the commentaries on these texts, such as sermons of church fathers and liturgical hymns and prayers. This scene represents an important liturgical ceremony and rite, from which we may draw conclusions about other ceremonies and rites in the Byzantine Church. The conclusions should illuminate our understanding of the experience of the church as a liturgical space used by a wide spectrum of the Byzantine community.

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