inspiration behind the epitaphios (fig. 5.1), a far larger textile which, following ancient interpretations of the Great Entrance as the procession bringing Christ to his tomb, was embroidered with the image ofthe dead Christ stretched out on a slab on his way to burial. Perhaps because of its decoration, the epitaphios was introduced, surely by the mid-fourteenth century, into a quite different liturgical context, that of the Good Friday and Holy Saturday ceremonies. By the fifteenth century, however, its Eucharistic meaning was receding and the stark image of the sacrificed Christ attended by angels was often replaced by a multi-figured depiction of the Lamentation.16
The various clerical vestments worn during the liturgy grew increasingly elaborate in the late Byzantine period, enveloping the celebrant in garments embroidered with Gospel scenes, with holy portraits, and even with the words of the liturgy itself. So the orarion of a deacon may display the words Glory Glory Glory, from the Epinikios Hymn, while the words of the creed adorn the minor sakkos of the metropolitan of Russia, Photios (1408-31).17 Narrowly liturgical subjects, however, are relatively rare on vestments. In any case, a liturgical interpretation of their Gospel iconography presupposes a particular historicising approach to the interpretation of the liturgy, one that views the Eucharist as a re-enactment of the entire life of Christ. It was familar above all from the eleventh-century commentary of Nicholas of Andida and underlay the illustration of the Jerusalem roll mentioned above.18
Icons are often thought to have constituted an integral part ofthe celebration ofthe liturgy. The words ofthe Eucharistic liturgies make no reference to icons, which is not at all surprising, given the early date of their composition. Icons were never to serve as liturgical implements. Still, their very existence connects them to the Eucharist in that they confirm, as does the image of the Virgin in the apse, the message of the Incarnation and the possibility of the sanctification of the material into the divine that is at the heart of the Eucharist. Icons are mentioned in rubrics to the liturgies from the fourteenth century on, though
16 Woodfin, 'Liturgical textiles', 296-7; H. Belting, 'An image and its function in the liturgy: the Man of Sorrows in Byzantium', DOP 34-35 (1980-81), 1-16; S. Curcic, 'Late Byzantine locasancta? Some questions regarding the form and function of Epitaphioi', in The twilight ofByzantium: aspects ofcultural and religious history in the late Byzantine Empire, ed. S. (Curcic and D. Mouriki (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 251-61; Robert F. Taft, The Great Entrance: a history of the transfer of gifts and other preanaphoral rites ofthe liturgy of St. John Chrysostom [OCA 200] (Rome: Pontificium institutum orientalium studiorum, i978), 2i7-i9.
17 Woodfin, 'Liturgical textiles'; P. Johnstone, The Byzantine tradition in church embroidery (Chicago: Argonaut, 1967).
18 R. Bornert, Les commentaires byzantins de la Divine Liturgie du VIIe au XVe siècle [Archives de l'orient chrétien 9] (Paris: Institut francais d'études byzantines, 1966), esp. 180-206.
Was this article helpful?