with the various groups relegated to specific areas of the church. As there was not enough space to represent all the saints in the history of the church, those depicted were the leaders, the best-known figures of each 'choir' or category of saint. In this respect, they approach Christ as courtiers would approach the emperor, in well-defined groups. This ordering of saints is in striking contrast to the calendar cycles usually placed somewhere outside the naos, especially in the narthex, that show, month by month, the church commemorations for the whole year, in the tradition of the Menologion of Basil II.50 In the naos, the saints have been liberated from earthly time and from the rotation of calendar time.
Within the feast compositions, the situation is a little different. They rotate around the central figure of Christ as if in the cyclical revolution of the church year. However, the cycle of feasts in a Byzantine church does not follow the liturgical sequence of the calendar, but maintains elements of historical time. For the events are displayed in roughly the order of the life of Christ (starting with the Annunciation, located in the eastern part of the naos). The maintenance ofsome aspect ofhistorical time made it easier to incorporate into later Byzantine church programmes cycles of the Passion of Christ or of the Life of the Virgin, with their very strict narrative sequence. The placement of the individual feasts will vary with the architecture of each church, but there is always a recognisable chronological sequence. The conceptions of time are in constant dialogue. The ceremony of the Pedilavum, or the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday, sometimes took place under an image of Christ washing the feet of the twelve apostles.51 The correspondence here of Gospel event, image of the event and liturgical commemoration resonates richly with these layers of time.
Earthly time was pushed further and further away from the sanctuary, away even from the naos, into the narthex at the western end of the church. The themes of the decoration of the narthex were more fluid and stressed its role as preparatory space. It has been suggested that the main liturgical themes relate to the penitential and preparatory character of the Lenten weeks leading to Christmas and Holy Week.52 In the middle Byzantine period the lives of
50 P. Mijovic, Menolog (Belgrade: Arheoloshki Institut, 1973).
51 W Tronzo, 'Mimesis in Byzantium. Notes toward a history of the function of the image', Res 25 (1994), 61-76.
52 B. Todic, 'L'influence de la liturgie sur la décoration peinte du narthex de Sopocani', in Drevnerusskoe iskusstvo. Rus', Balkani XIII vek, ed. A. L. Batalov et al. (St Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 1997), 43-58. See also S. Tomekovic, 'Contribution a l'étude du programme du narthex des églises monastiques (XIe-première moitié du XIIIe siècle)', B 58 (1988), 140-54.
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