to his left, and to either side of them are saints (Peter and Paul are the most usual) and archangels, their heads bowed and bodies inclined towards Christ. The Deesis emphasised the role of the church building, itself an icon of God's house, as the location for the intercession of saints and angels on behalf of humankind. Their representations participate in the liturgy along with the congregation. As John Meyendorff writes, 'The religious art of Orthodoxy is inseparable from the awareness that man was created in the image ofGod and that the saintly figures on the icons are manifesting a holiness which, in the mind of God, is accessible to all in the liturgy.'26
At ground level is the iconostasis's 'local' tier. This is pierced in the centre by the Royal or Holy Doors, which bear images (from top to bottom) of the Annunciation, the Communion of the Apostles and the four Evangelists to signify the entrance to the kingdom of God through which Christ is carried in the Eucharist.27 To the right of the Doors hangs an icon of Christ in Majesty and the 'house' icon of the festival to which the church is dedicated (in the case of the Trinity cathedral, the icon of the Old Testament Trinity), to the left an icon of the Mother of God. Various icons complete the row.
The iconostasis was and is integral to the liturgy, both as an architectural setting for exits and entrances of priests with crosses at key moments in the service and as a microcosm of the universal history of Christianity and the annual cycle of the liturgical year. Scanning from top to bottom, worshippers could read the history of salvation as revealed in scripture and see the promise of the kingdom of Heaven, which made itself manifest through the images. The screen was construed not as a barrier between the symbolic space of the congregation in the nave (earth, the temporal) and the divine mysteries of the sanctuary (heaven, the eternal), but as a window that gave worshippers a glimpse of the presence of the heavenly. Believers received Holy Communion at this 'border' between heaven and earth in sight of the Royal Doors. The church's central function was to celebrate the Eucharist, which had both a commemorative aspect (recalling the Last Supper) and an anticipatory one (awaiting the Second Coming).28
The church building was itself an icon of heaven and earth, in both the arrangement of its interior (nave and sanctuary, domes) and the exterior space (the cupolas, tripartite division of the façades). Murals and icons throughout the church, set in liturgical space, played a supporting role to the iconostasis. In large churches, chapels and altars with their own small iconostaseis or
26 In Grierson, Gates of mystery, 41.
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