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Holy Mandylion – Acheiropoietos Jesus Images in Constantinople VI-XII



Acheiropoietos Jesus Images in Constantinople. An icon of Jesus’s face on a cloth. The Documentary Evidence No. 6 – 12



A letter which bears the date 1095 falls next under our purview. It purports to be an invitation sent by Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (1081 – 1118) to his friend Robert the Frisian, Count of the Flemings (1071 – 1093) and to all the princes of the realm (the Holy Roman Empire?). The letter announces that the Greek Empire was under constant siege throughout by Patzinaks and Turks and bemoans the attrocities perpetrated by these pagans. They are, it goes on, lately invading the area of Constantinople itself and will soon take the capital. Alexius then asserts that he prefers that the capital should be captured (sic) by western Christian knights rather than by the abominable Turks, moreso because the city houses great treasures as well as the precious relics of the Lord. These are then named, and include, unequivocally for the first time in these sources, “the linen cloths found in the sepulchre after his resurrection.”

holy mandylion icon 17th dionysiou monastery aghion oros greece
Holy Mandylion frescoe from 17th Dionysiou monastery, Aghion oros, Greece

To dismiss this letter as a spurious piece of Latin propaganda virtually making the Byzantine emperor beg for the Latins’ expropriation of the imperial relics during the Fourth Crusade is to miss its significance as a Byzantine document referring to the presence of Jesus’ burial wrappings in Constantinople. Indeed, were it not for the enigmatic Document IV, this letter would be the first such reference. Most historians have agreed that Alexius would not have written such words, but they also concur that this epistula probably “depends on an authentic letter of the basileus” written with another end in mind and that it dates, variously, from 1091 to 1105.

Kurt Weitzmann and Hans Belting have shown that by c. 1100 Byzantine iconography had evolved a new style in the depiction of the events of Easter: the threnos or “Lamentation.” The contemporaneity of this epistula and the developed threnos art in Byzantium is striking, for thus it signals with a twin corroboration what the large burial cloth icon of Christ must have looked like. Jesus is now shown lying upon a full length shroud after being removed from the cross; in many examples he is naked and with hands folded upon his abdomen or over his loins. In addition to this new mural art, Byzantine epitaphioi or embroidered cloth, symbolizing Jesus’ shroud in the Good Friday liturgy, show Jesus in full-length, i.e., in the threnos attitude. 23

Before the next document from Constantinople may be studied, a group of Latin texts should be considered. The Abgar legend had already come to the West and was known to the Aquitainian pilgrim Egeria at the time when she visited Edessa (ca. 394). Rufinus’ 5th c. Latin translation of Eusebius’ Church History included the latter’s Abgar account. These early versions did not mention the image, but only Jesus’ letter to Abgar promising to send a disciple to heal him. But in a sermon pronounced in 769 Pope Stephen III employed the story of Abgar–this time reciting the episode of the miraculous Jesus image–to oppose the iconoclast movement then current in the Greek church. He seems to translate directly the received Greek form of Jesus’ letter responding to Abgar’s request for a cure: “Since you wish to look upon my physical face, I am sending you a likeness of my face on a cloth …” With these words, the Pope urges, Christ himself was advocating the use of religious images. 24

Somehow–via returning crusaders?–the Abgar story became quite popular in the West in the 12th c. Von Dobschütz (138**) included a tractate which he called the “Oldest Latin Abgar Text.” 25 Von Dobschütz thought it derived from a lost Syriac original of the 8th c. In addition, two other western writers of the Abgar story provide an important clue in the emergent and widening awareness both that the Edessa cloth was larger than originally thought and that it contained a full-body image of Jesus. They are the Ecclesiastical History of the English monk Ordericus Vitalis, ca. 1141; and the otia imperialia of Gervase of Tilbury, ca. 1211.

In Edessa, it seems, the image was always described as a face only. What is remarkable about these Latin Abgar accounts is the fact that in all of them, what Abgar received was not just a facial image, but one which enabled the viewer to discern the form and stature of Jesus’ entire body. 26 If they truly derive from a lost Syriac original from Edessa’s archives, as they claim, each one drawing its claim from its own immediate source, they open the possibility (only hinted at in the sources) that already in Edessa someone had known that the Mandylion was an icon of Christ’s entire body.

The clue leading to the conclusion that the lost Syriac original used by the western sources was written before the Mandylion left Edessa in 944 is the line in all three Latin texts that “this linen from antiquity still remains uncorrupted in Syrian Mesopotamia in Edessa”. (Qui linteus adhuc vetustate temporis permanens incorruptus in Mesopotamia Syrie apud Edissam civitatem.) Again, the descriptions of the image, no longer as face-only but now as entire body, relate chronologically to (a) the emergent threnos and epitaphios scenes in the East, which themselves suggest b) an awareness of an imaged shroud of Jesus, and (c) could be witnessed by Western Crusaders in Byzantine churches. Yet only in our Document VI was the much larger and imaged Mandylion recognized as a burial sindon. The Abgar/Mandylion mind-set retained its hold on the authors of the Latin versions, even while they (and possibly their original Syriac source-text) had altered the legend in a significant manner.

Gervase of Tilbury had certainly heard of a cloth bearing the full image of Jesus. Besides giving the old Abgar/Edessa version, he even gives a second account of a bloodied full-body image on a cloth, this time in a context related to the burial of Christ; it has no parallel in Byzantium, to my knowledge; but it is acheiropoietos. He writes:

There is another figure of the Lord expressed on cloth which has its origin in Gestis de Vultu Lucano (the events surrounding the Volto Santo of Lucca). When the Lord our Redeemer, hung from the cross stripped of his clothing, Joseph of Arimathea approached Mary, the mother of the Lord, and the other women who had followed the Lord in His Passion, and said: Do you love Him so little that you allow him to hang there naked and not do anything about it? Moved by this castigation, the mother and the others with her bought a spotless linteum so ample and large that it covered the whole body, and when He was taken down the image of the whole body hanging from the cross appeared expressed on the linen. 27

Note that it is certain from his writings that Gervase never saw the actual cloth.

Deriving, as they claim, from a pre-944 Edessan text, all three Latin texts include information about the rituals associated with the image when it was in Edessa. And this lends credence to their claim of a Syriac model. Most notably, they state that the cloth with full-body image was kept in a gold chest (scrinium) and that:

[when displayed] on Easter it used to change its appearance according to different ages, that is, it showed itself in infancy at the first hour of the day, childhood at the third hour, adolescence at the sixth hour, and the fullness of age at the ninth hour, when the Son of God came to His Passion for the weight of our sins and endured the awful sacrifice of the cross. 28

Oddly this did not appear in the “Liturgical Tractate” where Edessan rituals were earlier described. What can these words mean? The most acceptable answer is one that harmonizes with two other eyewitness descriptions of the cloth in Documents XI and XII.

Accepting from the texts already discussed that Edessa’s cloth bore a faint painting of an entire body, we may infer from Documents XI and XII that the image of the full and bloodstained body was revealed gradually by the unfolding of the cloth in sections, beginning with the feet and lastly showing the whole bloodstained body. The comparison of the gradually unfolded increments of the body with successive periods of Christ’s life would thus have been symbolic, part of the belief-system of the Edessenes. It may be instructive to notice that the Byzantine cross has a diagonal suppedaneum (foot-rest), for which the Greek Orthodox Church has no standard explanation. But it suggests a belief that one of Christ’s legs was shorter than the other. Supporting this are many medieval iconic depictions of the Virgin and Child in which one of Jesus’s feet seems deformed. In addition, the coins of Basil I (867-886) show Christ enthroned on the obverse, but with one foot deformed. Thus by this interpretation, something in the appearance of the feet of the Jesus image on the Edessa cloth would have suggested “infancy.” The final stage (entire body) clearly relates to the Passion. How the two intermediate relationships (legs with lower torso and then upper torso below the neck) fit this interpretation is not immediately apparent to a modern non-Byzantine. 29

What determinations can be made from all this? Eusebius and others had long since made reference to Syriac archives in Edessa. From these archives Eusebius (d. 340) related the account of the exchange of letters between Abgar and Jesus. He omitted any mention of an image, whether painted or acheiropoietos. Others, beginning with the Doctrine of Addai (ca. 390) made more of the painted image in the cure of Abgar than of the letter of Jesus. The Syriac archives remain a constant. The Acts of Thaddeus (6th c.) made the image miraculous on a tetradiplon on which Jesus wiped his face. About 594 Evagrius told a story about the icon saving Edessa during the siege of Chosroes of Persia in 544. The Latin discourse (769) of Pope Stephen seems to retain the face-only icon, his terms being faciem and vultus, the latter capable of expressing the entire person. The Narratio of Constantine VII (944) still presented us a miraculous Christ-face icon. At some time after 769 but before 944, it would seem that some Syric document (as the western Latin Abgar texts claim) attested to a full-body image on this cloth and also related an Edessan ritual connected with the city’s special and very secretly kept icon. Even if the western documents misunderstood their source, and the ritual was one practiced not in Edessa but after 944 in Constantinople, where the threnos or burial shroud art was emerging and would by 1100 have been known to westerners, it would not materially alter the conclusions of this paper. 30


The Edessa cloth with facial image is not mentioned in Constantinople again until 1150 by an English pilgrim to Constantinople. He saw what he describes as a gold container, capsula aurea, in which “is the mantile which, applied to the Lord’s face, retained the image of his face.” 31 He also mentions the “sudarium which was over his head.” It is yet another reference to a funerary cloth of Jesus in Constantinople, though it does not seem to be a body shroud. 32 This and the following three documents continue the confusion that thwarts one’s efforts to identify the precise objects in the imperial relic collection.


Seven years later (1157) this confusion of terms continues when Nicholas Soemundarson (Thingeyrensis), an Icelandic pilgrim, wrote in his native Icelandic his very detailed inventory of the palace relics. Riant has given us a Latin translation of Nicholas’ Icelandic: “fasciae with sudarium and blood of Christ.” Nicholas made no mention of the frame or box holding the cloth of Edessa, and indeed, the reference to blood demands that we interpret these as Passion cloths. Meanwhile, as between fasciae (“bands”), as distinguished from sudarium, both Latin translations from Icelandic, it is possible but not certain that one of the terms may denote a larger body cloth. 33


In 1171 Archbishop William of Tyre was admitted, he says, into the imperial treasury, where saw the syndon of Christ. This is the ordinary New Testament word for a body shroud and its sometime use in these contexts to denote the Edessa cloth seems only to hint further that either the Edessa cloth was larger than a face-towel or that another cloth, large and bloodstained, was present in the treasury. 34 After this time, both the Edessa cloth and the burial linens regularly appear in the same inventories.

In 1200 the inventory of Antonius of Novgorod similarly names two linen cloths: linteum and “linteum representing the face of Christ.” 35 Recall that earlier documents had tended towards the conclusion that the Edessa cloth was large (tetradiplon) and bloodied, and therefore might be identical with that cloth reputed in the inventories to be the burial wrapping of Jesus. The text of Antonius does nothing to elucidate those conclusions.


The plot thickens when Nicholas Mesarites, in 1201 the skeuophylax (overseer) of the treasuries in the Pharos Chapel of the Boucoleon Palace of the emperors in Constantinople, again describes two separate objects. One is the Burial sindones of Christ: these are of linen. They are of cheap and easy to find material, and defying destruction since they wrapped the uncircumscribed, fragrant with myrrh, naked body after the Passion. . . . In this place He rises again and the sudarium and the burial sindons can prove it . . . 36

The words of this eyewitness intimate that he had seen a naked man’s image on one of these cloths. His use of the word aperileipton, “uncircum¬scribed,” suggests that this image was lacking an outline. It could also be rendered as “uncontainable,” meaning that the limitless spiritual nature of God had somehow been contained in these cloths at the time when Jesus’ body was wrapped inside them. His reference to the Passion implies the visible presence of blood on the cloth. Without too great a stretch, Mesarites’ words provide us an eyewitness confirmation of the hints developed from so many other documents already discussed.

Nicholas, however, also specifically mentions as a separate second object in his care the towel (cheiromaktron) with a “prototypal” (prototupw) image of Jesus on it made “as if by some art of drawing not wrought by hand (acheiropoietw).” 36 again So any absolute confirmation of the identification (made possible by the Gregory sermon, Document III, et al) of the Edessan Mandylion (facial image only) and shroud of Jesus (whole body image with presence of visible blood and water from the side wound) remains elusive.


A burial sydoines certainly bearing the figure of the Lord is described in the Church of Our Lady of Blachernae by Robert of Clari, knight of the Fourth Crusade on tour in Constantinople in 1203 04. This passage has long been regarded by scholars of the Turin Shroud as the locus classicus attesting the presence in the Eastern capital of that famous Shroud:

There was another of the churches which they called My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sydoines in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which stood up straight every Friday so that the features of Our Lord could be plainly seen there. And no one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this sydoines after the city was taken. 37

Clari also saw elsewhere, in the relic treasury of the Pharos Church of the imperial palace (that treasury in Mesarites’ care two years prior), the two tabulae or cases which supposedly contained the famous Edessa towel (touaile) and the imaged tile (tiule). 38

Importantly, Clari never said he had seen the contents of these tabulae. Taken with the previous document of Mesarites, the words of Clari are refreshingly supportive. The imaged burial wrapping in Blachernae chapel seems to be identifiable with that which Mesarites protected in the Pharos treasury. Mesarites’ words “He rises again” seem paralleled by Clari’s “stood straight up,” and may refer to its being displayed by being gradually pulled up from its case until one could see the naked and blood-stained body of Christ. The resonance with the Edessa scrinium ritual is strong. Assuming the Byzantines were not foolish enough to make the claim of actual burial wrapping about two objects, it is possible to believe that the same cloth was moved up the coast and displayed every Friday or that during the extreme vulnerability of the city while the European knights were present, the cloth was kept in the Blachernae palace (current residence of the emperors) and displayed in its ancient Edessan role as talisman to protect its new city from her enemies. It must be urged that the situation in the capital in 1203, when the Crusaders were present, was much changed from that of 1201 when Mesarites wrote the words of Document XI. Objects might well have been moved for reasons unknown to us. 39

The last four documents bear upon the vexing question of the departure from Constantinople of the miraculously imaged cloths (acheiropoietoi) and their subsequent fortunes. Three of them have seemed to point to their continued presence in the capital as late as 1207 and possibly (Doc. XVI) until 1241. The present paper urges that upon examination these documents do not prove this at all, and in fact one of them (Doc. XIV) strongly suggests that the burial wrappings were present in Athens already by 1206. Document XV asserts that the sindon was indeed in Athens in 1205.


To be continued …

Daniel C. Scavone

University of Southern Indiana (6/21/96; 4/23/01; 2-25-04; 11-24-04, 12-02-05, 01-03-06, 10-07-2006)

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23 See the overview of interpretations in Einar Joranson, „The Problem of the Spurious Letter of Emperor Alexius to the Count of Flanders,“ AHR 55.4 (1950) 811 32 and in A. A. Vasiliev, A History of the Byzantine Empire 324 1453 (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press 1964) II. 386ff. Anna Comnena assures us in the Alexiad 8.3 5 that her father did write to seek mercenaries from every quarter including Europe, and she singles out the Count of Flanders.

24 See Kurt Weitzmann,“The Origins of the Threnos,“ in De artibus opuscula XL, Essays in Honor of Irwin Panofsky (New York: New York Univ. Press 1961) 476 490 and Wilson (n. 9) 133 47. Good examples of threnos and epitaphios art are the Pray Manuscript, dated 1192-95, fig. 2 in Ilona Berkovits, Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries (NY: Praeger 1969; Z. Horn, tr.), 19; the 13th c. epitaphios of king Uros Milutin now in Belgrade, in Wilson, The Mysterious Shroud (n. 10), 116; and the Image of the Savior in Rome’s Sancta Sanctorum in Lateran, fig. 112a in Bulst and Pfeiffer (n. 10). Words of Pope Stephen in von Dobschütz (n. 1) 191*: quod si faciem meam corporaliter cenere cupis, en tibi vultus mei speciem transformatam in linteo dirigo . . .

25 For the „Oldest Latin Abgar Text,“ Von Dobschütz (n. 1) 130**-131** identifies three codices: 14th c. cod. Par. B. N. Lat. 6041A; 12th c. cod. Dijon 50; and 13th c. cod. Dijon 638-642. In Rome in 1993, Zaninotto presented 12th c. cod. Vat. Lat. 5696 and another that he dates to the 10th c. It is cod. Vossianus Lat. Q. 69, from the Biblioteca Rijksuniversiteit at Leida. This last ms would thus be his choice as the oldest known version of the Abgar story in Latin. Von Dobschütz (139** and 194*) ventured a date of about 800 for the Syriac original, but this ought to read „before 769,“ i.e., before Pope Stephen’s discourse, for the consistency of his position.

26 From the „Oldest Latin Abgar Text in von Dobschütz 133**f: si vero corporaliter faciem meam cernere desideras, heu tibi dirigo linteum, in quo non solum faciei mee figuram, sed tocius corporis mei cernere poteris statum divinitus transformatum … Nam isdem mediator dei et hominum, ut ipsi regi in omnibus et per omnia satisfaceret, supra quoddam linteum ad instar nivis candidatum toto se corpore stravit, in quo, quod est dictu et auditu mirabile, ita divinitus transformata est illius dominice faciei figura gloriosa et tocius corporis nobilissimus status, ut qui corporaliter in carne dominum venientem minime viderunt, satis eis ad videndum sufficiat transfiguratio facta in linteo.

From Ordericus Vitalis: von Dobschütz 224*: Abgarus Toparcha Edessae regnavit, cui dominus Jesus sacram epistolam destinavit et pretiosum linteum, quo faciei suae sudorum extersit et in quo eiusdem salvatoris imago mirabiliter depicta refulget; quae dominici corporis speciem et quantitatem intuentibus exhibet.

From Gervase of Tilbury, Otia imperialia 3.23 in von Dobschütz 131**ff: sed quia me corporaliter videre desideras, en tibi dirigo linteum, in quo faciei meae figura et totius corporis mei status continentur. . . . Traditur autem ex archivis autoritatis antiquae, quod dominus per linteum candidissimum toto corpore se prostravit, et ita virtute divina non tantum faciei, sed etiam totius corporis dominici speciosissima effigies linteo impressa sit. . .

In the Legenda Aurea of Jacob de Voragine (d. 1298) the author translates John of Damascus’s word himation as vestimentum lineum ipsius pictoris, i.e., Jesus impressed his image on messenger Ananias’s own clothes. See von Dobschütz 243* and 247*.

27 Gervase of Tilbury, Otia Imperialia in von Dobschütz 290**f. citing G. G. Leibnitz, ed., Scriptores Rerum Brunsvicensium et al (Hanover: N. Förster 1707) I. 967f. 3.24. De alia figura Domini. Est alia in linteo Domini figura expressa, quae, ut in gestis de vultu Lucano ligitur, hoc suum habuit initium. Cum Dominus redemtor noster exutus vestimentis suis in cruce penderet, accedens Joseph ab Arimathia ad Mariam matrem Domini & ad alias mulieres, quae secuta sunt Dominum ad passionem suam, ait: O, inquit, quanto amore huic justo tenebamini, ex ipso rerum effectu perpendi potest, quem etiam nudum in cruce pendere vidistis, non operuistis. Quo castigationis alloquio mota mater ejus & aliae, quae cum ea erant, cito euntes emerunt linteum mundissimum tam amplum & extensum, quod tota crucifixi corporis effigies in linteo est expressa, cumque deponeretur, pendentis de cruce apparuit totius corporis effigies in linteo expressa [sic].

R. S. Loomis, The Grail From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol, (Princeton: University Pr., 1991; rp of 1963) has pointed to a link between the shroud icon in Constantinople and the Holy Grail. The First Continuation of Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval, whose theme is Grail origins, says Nicodemus carved a head of Jesus, but „the Lord God set his hand to the shaping of it, as they say; for no man ever saw one like it nor could it be made by human hands. Most of you who have been at Lucca know it and have seen it.“ (vss. 17668-17672)

Que nostre Sire i mist ses mains
Au figurer, si com l’en dit;
Quar aucuns hom puis tel ne vit,
Ne ne pot estre manovrez.

Both the reference to Lucca and the „not made by human hands“ motif identify the link.

28 Translated by the present writer from Zaninotto’s discussion of his 10th c. Latin Abgar Text, presented in Rome, summer 1993; it is identical with the tractatus called by von Dobschütz 134**, „The Oldest Latin Abgar Text,“ identified there as cod. Par. B.N. lat 6041, 14th c.: Asserunt autem religiosi plerique viri, qui eum cernere meruerunt, quod in sancto die pasce per diversas se mutare consueverat [a]etatum species, id est ut prima hora diei infantiam, tercia vero puericiam, sexta quoque adulescenciam, nona autem [a]etatis se premonstrat habere plenitudinem, in qua ad passionem dei filius veniens pro nostrorum pondere criminum dirum crucis pertulit supplicium.

29 Riant, Exuviae (n. 2) II.211f: Mantile, quod visui Domini applicatum, imaginem vultus eius retinuit …. sudarium quod fuit super caput eius.

30 Now Bruno Bonnet Eymard, „Le ‘Soudarion’ Johannique negatif de la gloire divine,“ in Lamberto Coppini and Francesco Cavazzuti, eds., La Sindone, scienza e fede (Bologna: Editrice CLUEB 1983) 75 89, argues that the word soudarion used by John 20:5 7) and its late Latin variant used here (n. 31) may derive from soudara, a middle eastern word of the O.T. period (Ruth 3:14), which indicated not a sweat cloth or chin band but a large poncho of linen which was placed over the head, which covered the entire body, and came down to the feet. This striking interpretation is countered by Jean Pirot, „Soudarion mentioniére,“ Sindon, 32 (Dec., 1983) 74f, who also produces texts urging the meaning, „chin band.“ Bonnet-Eymard’s suggestion serves better the thesis of this paper and indeed seems to be a valuable discovery.

31 The positive considerations raised in the documents to this point, however, are clouded by another document, an oath of the year 1108, reported by Anna Comnena (Alexiad 13.12) in E. R. A. Sewter, tr., The Alexiad of Anna Comnena (New York: Penguin, 1969) 433. Those who swore this oath swore „by the Passion of Christ . . . by the Cross of Christ, the Crown of Thorns, the Nails, the Spear. . .“ Absence of any reference to a burial shroud among the Passion instruments enumerated in this document of 1108 is puzzling in light of so many other clear references.

33 Nicholas Thingeyrensis in Riant, Exuviae (n. 2) 214: fasciae cum sudario et sanguine Christi.

34 William of Tyre in Riant, Exuviae 216: [Manuel, Amalrico regi, in magno palatio] sanctorum reliquias, dispensationis quoque Domini nostri Iesu Christi preciosissima argumenta [sic], exponi iubet, videlicet: Crucem; Clavis; Lanceam; Spongiam; Arundinem; Coronam Spineam; Syndonem; Sandalia. . . . I have omitted from this special set of documents an anonymous inventory dated by Riant ca. 1190. It hardly solves the historian’s perplexity, listing as separate items: „part of the linens in which the crucified body of Christ was wrapped,“ (and apparently in apposition) the Syndon; and „the towel sent to King Abgar at Edessa by the Lord, on which the Lord himself transferred his image.“ The text in question seems to be a listing of sanctuaria or brandea, i.e., contact-copies of relics from the imperial treasury in Constantinople. The text makes references to objects still in Constantinople, sanctuaria of which are held in various other places. Riant, Exuviae 216f: Hoc est sanctuarium quod in capella imperiali Constantinopolim ad presens continetur: . . . Item pars linteaminum quibus crucifixum Christi corpus meruit involvere iam dictus Arimatensis Ioseph, in supradicta imperiali capella continetur. Syndon enim, pars quoque Corone Christi, ex Karoli Calvi dono, habetur Carropoli Gallie. Item Manutergium regi Abgaro a Domino, per Thadeum apostolum, Edesse missum, in quo ab ipso Domino sua ipsius transfigurata est ymago.

35 Antonius in Riant, Exuviae 223: . . . monstrantur in aedibus aureis Caesaris: Crux veneranda, Corona [spinea], Spongia, Clavi, iterum Sanguis, Chlamys purpurea, Lancea, . . . linteum faciem Christi repraesentans . . .; quae omnia in sola ecclesia parva B. Dei Genitricis reperiuntur.

36 August Heisenberg, ed., Nikolaos Mesarites, die Palastrevolution des Johannes Komnenos (Würzburg: Koenigl. Universitätsdruckerei von H. Stürtz 1907) 30: ’Εvτάφιoι σιvδόvες Χριστoῦ: αὒται δ’ εἰσὶv ἀπο λίvoυ ὕλης εὐώvoυ κατὰ τὸ πρόχειρov, ἒτι πvεύσαι μύρα, ὑπερτερoῦσαι φθoρᾶς, ὃτι τὸv ἀπερίληπτov vεκρὸv γυμvὸv ἐσμυρvημέvov μετὰ τὸ πάθoς συvέστειλαv. . . .31: τv voμoδότηv ατv ς v πρoτoτύπ τετυπωμέvov  χείρoμάκτρ κα τ εθρύπτ γκεκoλαμμέvov κεράμ ς κ χειρoπoιήτ τέχv τιv γραφικ. Shortly after this, (p. 32) Mesarites again refers to τὸ σoυδάριov σὺv ταῖς ἐvταφίoις σίvδoσιv . . . ἐv τoύτῳ περ καὶ ἀvίσταται, καὶ τὸ σoυδάριov σὺv ταῖς ἐvταφίoις σίvδόσιv εἰς ἔκδηλov.

37 Robert de Clary, La conquête de Constantinople, ch. 92, in Charles Hopf, Chroniques greco romaines inedites ou peu connues (Paris: 1873. Repr. Brussels: Impression Anastaltique Culture et Civilisation 1966) 71: Et entre ches autres en eut un autre des mousters que on apeloit medame Sainte Marie de Blakerne, ou li sydoines la ou nostres sires fu envelopes, i estoit, qui cascuns desvenres se drechoit tous drois, si que on i pooit bien veir le figure nostre seigneur, ne seut on onques ne Griu ne Franchois que chis sydoines devint, quant le vile fu prise. Engl. tr. in E. H. McNeal, tr., Robert de Clari, The Conquest of Constantinople (New York: Columbia Univ.Pr. 1936) 112. On the interpretation of these texts see Peter F. Dembrowski, „Sindon in the Old French Chronicle of Robert of Clari,“ Shroud Spectrum International (SSI), 2 (March, l982) 13 18: le figure means „entire body,“ not „face only.“ See also his La Chronique de Robert de Clari: Étude de la Langue et du Style (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Pr. 1963).

38 Robert of Clari, ch. 83, in Hopf (n. 37) 65 and McNeal (n. 37) 104. The assumption made here, that the cloth which Clari described in 1203 in the Blacherne Chapel is the same one Mesarites guarded in the Pharos Church in 1201, with his hints of an image, and is thus also identical with the burial linens named in early relic lists back to 958 (Document IV) and possibly to 944, has been called into question. Werner Bulst, „Christusikone Edessabild/ Turiner Grabtuch,“ Hermeneia I.2/3 (August, 1985) 56f, notes that there are three candidates for true shroud in Constantinople at this time: Clari’s sydoines in the Blacherne Chapel, the touaille in the tabula or capsula cited by Clari and Mesarites in the Pharos Church, and the burial shroud mentioned by Mesarites, also in the Pharos Church (nn. 36-37). He opts for the cloth in the tabula, which Mesarites had called a cheiromaktron with a „prototypal“ image. In this he has the support of A. M. Dubarle, „La Premiere Captivitè de Geoffroy de Charny & l’Acquisition du Linceul,“ Montre-nous ton Visage 8, 1992, 6-18. This position ignores the evidence of Documents XIV and XV. It also discounts Mesarites’ reference to the „uncircumscribed naked body“ on the burial wrapping. Finally it would leave us with a Clari credulous enough to believe that an ordinary painted epitaphios cloth or threnos scene was the actual shroud of Jesus. This must be rejected and was, by Clari himself, so to speak, for he is very clear in calling the sydoines Jesus’s burial linen, and equally clear when referring to something painted, as in ch. 83 just after the touaille passage, when he describes an „image of St. Demetrius painted on a panel.“ See Hopf (n. 37) 66 and McNeal (n. 37) 105.

39 Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of he Image before the Era of Art, E. Jephcott, tr. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1994), 213 and n. 11.

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