Painted Messages of Salvation: Monumental Program of the Subsidiary Spaces of Late Byzantine Monastic Churches in Macedonia

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Roussanova, Rossitza
Colantuono, Anthony
Maguire, Henry
This dissertation studies the decorative programs of the ancillary spaces of seven Late Byzantine monastic churches in Macedonia. I suggest that the ancillary spaces are sites where sacred and secular mixed, and where the faithful prepared for their participation in a higher reality revealed through the Eucharistic liturgy in the church naos. Their monumental programs reflect their liminality and accommodate variety of liminal conditions and transitory points in human life, such as monastic tonsures and penance. Two chapters investigate the representations of Christ's Healing Miracles. I argue that the proliferation of painted Healing Miracles reflects the religious atmosphere of the Palaeologan period when they became a sign for the righteousness of Byzantine Orthodoxy. In monastic context the painted sick reminded the monks of their spiritual infirmity, and stimulated their penance. The importance of bodily healings I relate to Hesychast teaching for which the body was a main instrument of salvation. In keeping with the emphasis on the benevolent nature of Christ, the image of the Last Judgment was supplanted by expanded eschatological imagery discussed in chapter four. Indirectly, through Lessons and Parables, Christ was given judicial characteristics which coincide with his complex image as a healer and a judge in edifying literature. In the last chapter on the frescoes in the narthex of the Peribleptos church in Ohrid, I emphasize the importance of the prophets and their visions as models for monastic contemplation. The architectural metaphors of the imagery I interpret not only in relation to the pious undertaking of the donor, but also to the meditations of the monks.