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Depiction of St. Longinus
BZS.1958.106.1671 (obverse). Depiction of St. Longinus.

Nicholas I Mystikos: A Canon on the Lament of the Virgin at the Crucifixion

Ἀναρτηθέντα ὡς εἶδεν ἐπὶ σταυροῦ
τὸν υἱὸν καὶ κύριον
ἡ παρθένος καὶ ἁγνή,
τρυχομένη ἔκλαιεν πικρῶς
μεθ᾽ ἑτέρων γυναικῶν καὶ «Οἴμοι» ἔλεγεν.

«Βλέπω σε, φίλατον τέκνον καὶ ποθεινόν,
ἐν σταθρῷ κρεμάμενον,
καὶ τιτρώσκομαι πικρῶς
τὴν καρδίαν,» ἔφη ἡ ἁγνή,
«ἀλλὰ δός μοι, ἀγαθέ, λόγον τῇ δούλῃ σου.

«Γνώμῃ ἰδίᾳ, υἱέ μου καὶ ποιητά,»
ἡ παρθένος ἔλεγεν,
παρεστῶσα τῷ σταυρῷ
σὺν ἠγαπημένῳ μαθητῇ,
«ὑποφέρεις τὸν δεινὸν ἐν ξύλῳ θάναντον.

«Νῦν τὴν ἐμὴν προσδοκίαν καὶ τὴν χαρὰν
καὶ τὴν ἀγαλλίασιν,
τὸν υἱόν μου καὶ θεόν,
ἐσερήθην, οἴμοι, καὶ ἀλγῶ
τὴν καρδίαν,» ἡ ἁγνὴ ἔλεγεν κλαίουσα.

When she saw her Son and
Lord hanging on the cross,
the Pure Virgin, rent by
sorrow, wept bitterly with
other women, and said

"I see you, my dearest
beloved Son, hanging on a
cross, and my heart is
grievously wounded," the
Pure One spoke; "but in your
goodness give me, your
servant, a reason.

"Of your own free will, my Son
and Creator," the Virgin said,
standing by the Cross, with
the beloved disciple, "you
suffer the terrible death on
the rood.

"Now I am bereft of my hope,
my joy, and my pride,
of my Son and my God,
alas! and it hurts my heart,"
the Pure One spoke weeping.L. G. Westerink, ed. and trans., Nicholas I, Patriarch of Constantinople: Miscellaneous Writings (Washington, DC, 1981), 88–91.

John 20:26–27

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.


BZS.1958.106.1959 (obverse)
BZS.1958.106.1959 (obverse)

The Crucifixion is found on eleven Byzantine seals ranging from the sixth to the twelfth centuries. Above is the standard Middle Byzantine scene depicting the crucified Christ flanked by the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist.J. Cotsonis, “Narrative Scenes on Byzantine Lead Seals (Sixth–Twelfth Centuries): Frequency, Iconography, and Clientele,” Gesta 48 (2009): 58 and 65.

Occasionally, iconography was chosen for reasons beyond individual piety. The seal here, belonging to Michael chartoularios of the dromon and of Charsianon, exemplifies this. The reverse depicts Nicholas and Menas Kallikelados, raising their hands toward a medallion of Christ. The same design was also used by Constantine vestarches, judge of the Velum, and grand kourator of the sekreton of the Mangana, a nephew of Patriarch Michael I Keroularios. The iconography was likely a “family design,” linking members across time and space.


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