Sie sind auf Seite 1von 230

The Church of St.

Panteleimon at Nerezi
Architecture, Programme, Patronage

Ida Sinkevi

Reichert

Ida Sinkevi
The Church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi

SPTANTIKE - FRHES CHRISTENTUM - BYZANZ


KUNST IM ERSTEN JAHRTAUSEND
Herausgegeben von
Beat Brenk, Johannes G. Deckers,
Arne Effenberger, Lieselotte Ktzsche

Reihe B: Studien und Perspektiven


Band 6
The Church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi
by
Ida Sinkevi

REICHERT VERLAG WIESBADEN 2000

Ida Sinkevi

The Church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi


Architecture, Programme, Patronage

R EICHERT VERLAG WIESBADEN 2000

With the subvention of


The Publications Commitee,
Department of Art and Archaeology,
Princeton University

Die Deutsche Bibliothek - CIP-Einheitsaufnahme


Sinkevi, Ida:
The church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi : architecture, programme, patronage / Ida Sinkevic. Wiesbaden : Reichert, 2000
(Sptantike - frhes Christentum - Byzanz : Reihe B, Studien und Perspektiven ; Bd. 6)
Zugl. : Princeton, Univ., Diss., 1994
ISBN 3-89500-129-5

2000 Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag Wiesbaden


Das Werk einschlielich aller seiner Teile ist urheberrechtlich geschtzt.
Jede Verwertung auerhalb der engen Grenzen des Urheberrechtsgesetzes
ist ohne Zustimmung des Verlages unzulssig und strafbar.
Das gilt insbesondere fr Vervielfltigungen, bersetzungen, Mikroverfilmungen
und die Speicherung und Verarbeitung in elektronischen Systemen.
Printed in Germany

This book is dedicated to my mother Nataa, my brother Kolja,


and to the memory of my father Jura

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
ABBREVIATIONS

XI
XII

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

XIII

MAP OF THE BALKANS

XVI

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I: ALEXIOS AND HIS CHURCH


Who Was Alexios Angelos Komnenos?
1. Alexios Inscription
2. Alexios Family
Alexios Decision to Build Nerezi and the Importance of the Region for Byzantium
1. The Balkan Peninsula
2. Macedonia
3. Manuel I in Macedonia
4. Major Towns in the Region
Did Alexios Reside in Skopje?
1. History of Skopje
2. Skopje as an Ecclesiastical Center
3. Alexios Relatives in and around Skopje
4. Alexios and His Cousin Manuel I
Why Would Alexios Choose a Provincial Location for his Foundation?
1. Komnenian Aristocratic Foundations in the Provinces
2. Financing Nerezi
3. The Importance of Provincial Foundations

4
4
4
5
5
5
5
6
7
7
7
8
8
8
9
9
10
10

CHAPTER II: ARCHITECTURE


Introduction
Plan and Spatial Articulation
1. Naos: Analysis
1.1. Segregation of the Naos
1.2. Twelfth-Century Revival of Cruciform Churches
1.3. Naos: Summary
2. Sanctuary: Analysis
2.1. Tri-Partite Organization
2.2. Fusion of the Bema Bay With the Eastern Arm of the Cross
3. Narthex: Analysis
3.1. Subsidiary Chapels and the Narthex at Nerezi
3.2. Liturgical Furnishings and Painted Programs of Subsidiary Chapels
3.3. Liturgical Furnishings and Painted Programs of Narthexes
3.4. Could Western Chapels be considered as a Separate Entity?
4. Summary
Restorations and the Original Form of the Exterior
Exterior: Analysis
1. Composition and Technique
1.1. Compositional Aspects
1.2. Building Materials
1.3. Facade Articulation and Decorative Aspects
1.4. Constantinopolitan and Regional Features of the Exterior

ll
ll
ll
ll
12
13
13
14
14
15
15
16
17
18
19
19
19
20
20
20
21
21
21

VIII
1.5. Summary
2. Five-Domed Structure
2.1. Middle Byzantine Five-Domed Churches in Constantinople
2.2. Middle Byzantine Five-Domed Churches Outside of Constantinople
2.2.1. Russia
2.2.2. Armenia
2.2.3. Greece
2.2.4. Italy
2.1. Analysis of Middle Byzantine Five-Domed Churches
2.2. Symbolic Significance of Five-Domed Churches
Summary
CHAPTER III: PAINTED DECORATION
Introduction
Bema
1. Program: General Observations
2. The Communion of the Apostles
2.1. Symbolic and Liturgical Significance of the Scene
2.2. The Kiss of the Apostles
2.2.1. The Kiss of Sts. Peter and Paul
2.2.2. The Meaning of the Kiss at Nerezi
2.2.3. The Choice of St. Luke and St. Andrew
2.2.4. Political Implications
3. The Officiating Bishops
3.1. The Hetoimasia
3.2. Liturgical Character of the Scene
3.3. The Church Councils
3.3.1. The Major Sessions
3.3.2. Heretical Attacks
3.3.3. The Church Council of 1156/57
3.3.4. The Texts of Church Fathers in the Acts of the Council
3.3.5. The Anathemas
3.3.6. The Church Councils and the Painted Program of the Bema
Cupolas
1. The Procession of Angels
2. Images of Christ
2.1. Christ Priest
2.2. The Significance of the Images of Christ in the Domes
3. The Origin of the Iconography of the Domes
4. A Possible Reconstruction of the Program of the Central Dome
Eastern Chapels
1. The Prothesis
2. The Diakonikon
2.1. The Holy Physicians
3. Thematic Concerns
Naos: Scenes
1. The Annunciation
2. The Presentation and the Threnos
2.1. The Presentation: Origin, Meaning, and Visual Representations
2.2. The Presentation: Iconographic Innovations and Their Significance
2.3. The Presentation and the Church Councils
2.4. The Threnos: Origin, Meaning, and Visual Representations
2.5. The Threnos: An Icon of Sorrow
2.6. The Juxtaposition of the Threnos and the Presentation
2.7. Summary
3. The Transfiguration and the Deposition
3.1. The Deposition: Another Emotionally Charged Icon at Nerezi
3.2. The Transfiguration

Table of Contents
23
23
24
25
25
25
25
26
26
27
28
29
29
30
30
30
31
32
33
33
33
34
35
35
36
37
37
37
38
38
39
39
39
40
40
41
42
43
43
44
44
45
46
47
47
47
48
48
49
50
50
51
52
53
53
53
54

Table of Contents
3.3. The Juxtaposition of the Transfiguration and the Deposition
4. The Juxtaposition of the Resurrection of Lazarus and the Entry into Jerusalem
5. The Marian Cycle
6. Spatial Relations of the Scenes: Meaning and Significance
7. The Theme of Passion
7.1. Social and Cultural Trends
7.2. Alexios' Concerns
Sanctoral Cycle
1. Introduction
2. Military Saints
3. Martyrs
4. Holy Monks
5. Hymnographers
5.1. St.Theodore of Stoudios
5.2. St.John of Damascus and St. Kosmas the Hymnographer
5.3. St.Theophanes Graptos
5.4. St. Joseph of Sicily
5.5. The Importance of Hymnographers
6. St. Panteleimon
7. Grouping of Saints
Narthex
1. Introduction
2. The Deesis
3. The Cycle of St. Panteleimon
3.1. The Life of St. Panteleimon
3.2. The Scenes: East Wall
3.3. The Scenes: South Wall
3.4. The Scenes: North Wall
3.5. Hagiographic Cycles of St. Panteleimon
3.6. Passion and Intercession
Western Chapels
1. Introduction
2. North-West Chapel
2.1. Five Martyrs of Armenia
2.2. St. Menas, St. Viktor, St.Vikentios
2.3. St.Tryphon, St.Blasios, St. Mamas
3. Summary
Painted Cycle: Concluding Remarks
1. Alexios
2. Church Councils
3. Legacy
CHAPTER IV: ARTISTS AND THEIR LEGACY
Style and Iconography
Composition
1. Compositional Integration of the Program as a Whole
2. Compositional Integration of Individual Scenes
3. Sources
Figures
1. Proportions
2. Linearism
3. Color and Line
4. Faces
The Origins of Nerezis Style
Linearism: Constantinopolitan or Provincial?
Artists, Attribution
Nerezi and Twelfth-Century Style
1. The Church of the Transfiguration, Chortiatis

IX
54
54
56
56
57
57
58
58
58
59
60
60
61
62
62
64
65
65
66
66
66
66
67
68
68
68
69
69
70
70
71
71
71
71
72
73
73
73
73
74
74
76
76
77
77
77
78
78
78
79
79
79
80
81
81
82
83

Table of Contents
2. The Church of Hosios David, Thessaloniki
3. Chortiatis, Hosios David, and Nerezi
Summary

83
84
84

CHAPTER V: SCULPTURE
Introduction
Description
Analysis: Technique, Iconography, Style
1. Constantinople as a Source
2. The Provinces and Neighboring Countries as a Source
3. Macedonia as a Source
The Original Form of the Iconostasis
1. The Proskynetaria Icons
2. The Icons Above the Architrave
3. Intercolumnar Icons
3.1. Controversy About Their Existence
3.2. Textual Evidence
3.3. Archaeological Evidence
Summary

86
86
87
88
88
88
89
90
91
92
92
92
93
93
93

CHAPTER VI: EPILOGUE. NEREZI AFTER ALEXIOS


History
1. Nerezi as a Metoch of the Monastery of St. George-Gorgos
1.1. The Monastery of St. George-Gorgos before 1376/77
1.2. The Monastery of St. George-Gorgos as a Metoch of Chilandar
2. Nerezi After the Turkish Conquest of Skopje
Post-Byzantine Paintings
1. Introduction
2. Bema
3. Central Cupola
4. Naos
5. Analysis of the Sixteenth-Century Cycle
6. Nineteenth-Century Paintings
7. Nerezi Today

95
95
95
95
96
96
97
97
97
98
98
98
99
99

CONCLUSION

100

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

102

INDEX

110

FIGURES

119

PLATES

189

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This book has grown out of my Ph. D. dissertation com


pleted at Princeton University under the supervision of
Prof. Slobodan uri. As a mentor, colleague, and friend,
Prof. uri contributed numerous remarkable insights,
offered guidance, and enthusiastically encouraged me to
publish it. The manuscript benefited from his support in so
many ways, that my debt and gratitude can never be ade
quately expressed.
To Dr. Lois Drewer of the Index of Christian Art at
Princeton University, who generously shared her expertise,
read this manuscript at every stage of its existence, and pro
vided invaluable advice and assistance I express my deepest
gratitude. Many times, her faith in my work helped sustain
mine. I am greatly indebted to Prof. Annemarie Weyl Carr,
who was my M. A. adviser at Southern Methodist Univer
sity, Dallas, TX, for suggesting the topic of Nerezi. I also
thank her for her knowledgeable comments and her enthu
siastic encouragement which inspired many aspects of this
book.
Many other colleagues and friends helped bring this
manuscript to completion. My colleagues at the Institute
for the Protection of Monuments in Skopje facilitated
my work at the site, granted me access to documents,
and let me use their archival photographs of the
church. My on site research also benefited from the
help of Prof. Petar Miljkovi-Pepek, Professor Dime
Koco, and my friends Dafina Gerasimova and Rumen
amilov who helped in surveying and photographing the
church.

I am also grateful for advice and council of the late


Prof. Gordana Babi, Prof. Judith Herrin, Prof. Thomas
DaCosta Kaufmann, Dr. Alexei Lidov, and Prof. Cecil Lee
Striker. My thanks are extended to colleagues and friends
at Lafayette College, Prof. Diane Cole Ahl, Prof. Robert S.
Mattison, and Prof. Edward J. Kerns for their encourage
ment and their interest in my work.
The final draft of the manuscript benefited from advice
of my readers, Prof. Beat Brenk and Prof. J. G. Deckers to
whom I offer my thanks. I am also grateful to Prof. Beat
Brenk for his generosity and willingness to offer his won
derful photographs and slides of Nerezi for this book.
My thanks are extended to my publisher for the help and
enthusiasm with which they enhanced and improved the
manuscript.
My research was supported in part by the Haakon
Fellowship awarded to me at Southern Methodist Uni
versity, by Stanley J. Seeger Fellowship, Hellenic Studies,
Princeton University and by several Mellon fellowships I
received at Princeton University and at Lafayette College.
I am also indebted to the Publications Committee of the
Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton Univer
sity for their subvention which helped increase the number
of color photographs considerably.
Last but not least I wish to express my deepest gratitude
to my family, my late father Jura, my mother Nataa, my
brother Kolja, and my husband Ivan, for their help, sup
port, and willingness to share with me the joy and hard
ship of this project. To them I dedicate this book.

ABBREVIATIONS

ABME
AB
BF
BHG
BNJ
BZ
CA
Deltion
DOP
EO
GSND
IRAIK
JB

JSAH
LCI

A rcheion tn Byzantinn Mnm ein ts


H ellados
Art Bulletin
Byzantinische Forschungen
Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca, ed. by
F. Halkin, 3 Vols. (Brussels, 1957)
B yzantinisch-neugriechische Jah rb ch er
Byzantinische Zeitschrift
Cahiers archologiques
D eltion ts Christianiks Archaiologiks
H etaireias
D um barton Oaks Papers
chos d O rient
Glasnik Skopskog naun og drutva
Izvestiia Russkogo A rkheologicheskogo
Instituta v K onstantinopole
Jahrbuch d er sterreichischen Byzantinistik
Before 1969 - Jahrbuch d er sterreichischen
byzantinischen G esellschaft
Journal o f the Society o f A rchitectural
Historians
Lexikon d er christlichen Ik onographie,
ed. by E. Kirschbaum and W. Braunfels,
8 Vols. (Rome, Freiburg, Basel, Vienna,
1968-1976)

Mansi

OCP
OC
ODB
PG

Praktika
1972
RBK

G. D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et


amplissima collectio, 53 Vols. (ParisLeipzig, 1901-27)
Orientalin christiana periodica
Oriens christianus
Oxford D ictionary o f Byzantium , ed. by
A. Kazhdan et al. (Washington, 1991)
Patrologiae cursus com pletus: Series G raeca,
ed. J. P. Migne. 161 Vols, in 166 pts. (Paris,
1857-1866)
Praktika to u p r to u d ieth n o u s k y p ro lo g ik ou sy n e d r io u 3 Vols. (Nicosia, 1972)

Reallexikon zur byzantinischen Kunst, ed.


by K. Wessel, 4 Vols. (Stuttgart, 1966-1984)
REB
R evu e des tudes byzantines
Synaxarium Synaxarium ecclesiae C onstantinopolitanae:
P ropylaeum ad Acta sanctorum N ovem brisy
ed. by H. Delehaye (Brussels, 1902)
TM
Travaux et m m oires
VizVrem
Vizantiski vrem ennik
ZLU
Zbornik za lik ovne um etnosti
ZRVI
Zbornik radova Vizantolokog instituta
XVe congrs XVe congrs international des tudes
byzantines, Rapports et co-rapports, III:
Art et arch ologie (Athens, 1976)

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Photographic credits:
Skopje, Institute for the Protection of Monuments: figs. 1-17; 26; 36-45; 47-49; 75, 78, 79-82, 84-88.
Professor Beat Brenk: figs. XIX, XXXVI, XLVIII; 63, 76, 77, 83.
All other photographs are by the author.

Color figures
Fig. I
Fig. II
Fig. III
Fig. IV
Fig.V
Fig. VI
Fig. VII
Fig. VIII
Fig. IX
Fig.X
Fig. XI
Fig. XII
Fig. XIII
Fig. XIV
Fig. XV
Fig. XVI
Fig. XVII
Fig. XVIII
Fig. XIX
Fig. XX
Fig. XXI
Fig. XXII
Fig. XXIII
Fig. XXIV
Fig. XXV
Fig. XXVI
Fig. XXVII
Fig. XXVIII
Fig. XXIX
Fig. XXX
Fig. XXXI
Fig. XXXII
Fig. XXXIII

Exterior: east facade


Exterior: south facade
Exterior: south facade, central section
Exterior: south facade, detail with cross
Exterior: north facade, meander pattern
Exterior: domes
Interior: east view
Interior: west view
Interior: central dome
Interior: north side
Interior: south side
Bema and central dome
Bema: general view
Bema: officiating priest
Bema: apse
Bema: apse, Communion of the
Apostles
Bema: apse, Communion of the
Apostles, north
Bema: apse, Communion of the
Apostles, south
Bema: Communion of the Apostles,
north wall
Bema: apse, Hetoimasia
North-east cupola: Emmanuel
South-east cupola: Ancient of Days
North-west cupola: Pantokrator
North-west cupola: Pantokrator
with Angels
South-west cupola: Christ-Priest
Prothesis: general view
Prothesis: St.Modestos
Passageway from the Prothesis into
the bema: St. Spyridon
Diakonikon: general view
Diakonikon: east wall, upper zone,
unidentified bishop
Diakonikon, south wall, lower zone:
unidentified saint
Passageway from the diakonikon into
the naos, north wall: St. Damianos
Passageway from the diakonikon into
the naos, south wall: St. Kosmas

Fig. XXXIV
Fig. XXXV

Naos: east wall


Naos, east wall: archangel from
the Annunciation
Fig. XXXVI Naos, east wall: the Virgin from
the Annunciation
Fig. XXXVII Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
the Presentation
Fig. XXXVIII Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
the Presentation, Anna and the Virgin
Fig. XXXIX Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
the Presentation, the Virgin and Symeon
Naos, south arm of the cross, west wall:
Fig. XL
the Transfiguration
Naos, south wall: the Resurrection of
Fig.XLI
Lazarus
Fig.XLII
Naos, west wall: the Birth and the
Presentation of the Virgin
Hosios David, Thessaloniki: detail from
Fig. XLIII
the Nativity
Fig.XLIV
Naos, north wall: the Entry into
Jerusalem
Fig.XLV
Naos, north arm of the cross, west wall:
the Deposition
Fig.XLVI
Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
the Threnos
Fig. XLVII
Hosios David, Thessaloniki: the Baptism
Fig. XLVIII
Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
the Threnos, detail
Fig.XLIX
Naos, east wall: St. Panteleimon
Fig. L
Naos, east wall: Virgin and Christ-Child
Fig. LI
Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
St. Anthony, St. Paul of Thebes,
St. Euthymios, St. Sabas, and an
unidentified monk
Fig.LII
Naos, south arm of the cross, west wall:
St. Arsenios and unidentified monks
Fig.LIII
Naos, south wall: St. George,
St. Demetrios, St. Nestor
Fig.LIV
Naos, west wall: Holy Martyrs
Fig. LV
Naos, north wall: St.Theodore Teron,
St. Theodore Stratelates, St. Prokopios
Fig. LVI
Naos, north arm of the cross, west wall:
St. Makarios and unidentified monks

XIV
Fig.LVII

Fig. LVIII
Fig.LIX
Fig. LX
Fig.LXI
Fig.LXII
Fig. LXIII

List of illustrations
Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
St. Kosmas the Hymnographer, St.John
of Damascus, St. Theodore of Stoudios,
St.Theophanes Graptos, St. Joseph of
Sicily
Narthex: interior view
Narthex: main portal with inscription
Narthex, east wall: St. Symeon Stylite
Narthex, east wall: Deesis.
Narthex: south-east corner
Narthex, south wall: St. Hermolaos,
St. Hermippos, and St. Hermokrator
before Maximian

Fig. LXIV

Fig. LXV
Fig. LXVI
Fig. LXVII
Fig. LXVIII

Narthex, south wall: Execution


of St. Hermolaos and Burial of
St. Hermolaos, St. Hermippos,
and St. Hermokrator
North-west chapel, north wall:
St. Mamas
North-west chapel, north wall:
St. Blasios
North-west chapel, west wall:
St. Mardarios
Iconostasis: detail of the architrave

Black and white figures


Fig. 1 Exterior: from north-east, c. 1900
Fig. 2 Exterior: from south-east, during the restoration
in 1937-38
Fig. 3 Exterior: from south-west, after the restoration in
1937-38
Fig. 4 Exterior: south-east view, after the restoration in
1958-59
Fig. 5 Exterior: from south-west, after the restoration
in 1970s
Fig. 6 Exterior: east facade during the restoration in
1937-38
Fig. 7 Exterior: east facade during the restoration in
1958-59
Fig. 8 Exterior: north facade during the restoration in
1937-38
Fig. 9 Exterior: north facade after 1937-38 restoration
Fig. 10 Exterior: narthex during the restoration in
1958-59
Fig. ll Exterior: narthex during the restoration in
1958-59
Fig.12 Exterior: south-east dome, installation of the
lead roof
Fig. 13 Bema, apse: Virgin, 16th century
Fig. 14 Bema, apse: Communion of the Apostles, Christ
Fig. 15 Bema, apse: Communion of the Apostles, St. Paul
Fig. 16 Bema, south wall: Communion of the Apostles
Fig. 17 Bema and prothesis during the restoration in
1958-59. St. Gregory Thaumaturge and St.John
the Theologian in the bema, and St. Modestos in
the prothesis
Fig. 18 Bema, north wall: St. Gregory Thaumaturge
Fig. 19 Bema, north wall: St. Epiphanios of Cyprus
Fig. 20 Bema, north wall: St.John the Theologian
Fig. 21 Bema, apse: St.John Chrysostom
Fig. 22 Bema, apse: St. Basil the Great
Fig. 23 Bema, south wall: St. Athanasios
Fig. 24 Bema, south wall: St. Gregory of Nyssa
Fig. 25 Bema, south wall: St. Nicholas of Myra
Fig. 26 Bema, apse: angel flanking the Hetoimasia to the
north
Fig. 27 Prothesis, east wall: the Virgin

Fig. 28 Prothesis, south wall, above the entrance to the


bema: unidentified bishop
Fig. 29 Prothesis, west wall, flanking the entrance to the
naos: St. Polykarpos
Fig. 30 Prothesis, passageway from the prothesis into the
naos, north wall: St. Antipas
Fig. 31 Diakonikon, east wall: St.John the Baptist
Fig. 32 Diakonikon, east wall: deacon flanking St.John to
the north
Fig. 33 Diakonikon, west wall, above the entrance to the
naos: St. Kyros
Fig. 34 Diakonikon, north wall, above the entrance to the
bema, St.John
Fig. 35 Passageway from the diakonikon into the bema,
west wall: St. Sampson
Fig. 36 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
the Presentation, St. Anna
Fig. 37 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
the Presentation, Virgin
Fig. 38 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
the Presentation, Symeon
Fig. 39 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
the Presentation, Joseph
Fig. 40 Naos, south arm of the cross, west wall:
the Transfiguration, St. Peter
Fig. 41 Naos, south arm of the cross, west wall,
the Transfiguration, St.John
Fig. 42 Naos, south wall: the Resurrection of Lazarus,
Lazarus
Fig. 43 Naos, west wall: the Birth of the Virgin, maids
Fig. 44 Naos, north wall: the Entry into Jerusalem, group
of Jews
Fig. 45 Naos, north arm of the cross, west wall:
the Deposition, Virgin and Christ
Fig. 46 Veljusa, Church of the Virgin of Eleousa: Christ
Fig. 47 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
the Threnos, Virgin and Christ
Fig. 48 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
the Threnos, detail
Fig. 49 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
the Threnos, St.John

XV

List of illustrations
Fig. 50 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
St. Anthony
Fig. 51 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
St. Paul of Thebes
Fig. 52 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
St. Euthymios
Fig. 53 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
St. Sabas
Fig. 54 Naos, south arm of the cross, south wall:
unidentified saint
Fig. 55 Naos, south arm of the cross, west wall:
St. Arsenios
Fig. 56 Naos, south wall: St. George
Fig. 57 Naos, south wall: St. Demetrios
Fig. 58 Naos, south wall: St. Nestor
Fig. 59 Naos, west wall: martyrs, north
Fig. 60 Naos, north wall: St. Prokopios
Fig. 61 Naos, north wall: St.Theodore Stratelates
Fig. 62 Naos, north wall: St.Theodore Teron
Fig. 63 Naos, north wall: St.Theodore Teron, detail
Fig. 64 Naos, north arm of the cross, west wall:
St. Makarios
Fig. 65 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
St.Joseph of Sicily
Fig. 66 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
St. Theophanes Graptos
Fig. 67 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
St.Theodore of Stoudios

Fig. 68 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:


St.John of Damascus
Fig.69 Naos, north arm of the cross, north wall:
St. Kosmas the Hymnographer
Fig. 70 South-west chapel, east wall: Martyr
Fig. 71 North-west chapel, north wall: St.Tryphon
Fig.72 North-west chapel, south wall: St. Menas
Fig.73 North-west chapel, east wall: St. Orestes
Fig. 74 North-west chapel, west wall: St. Viktor and
St.Vikentios
Fig.75 Roman stele
Fig. 76 Reconstructed iconostasis
Fig. 77 Reconstructed iconostasis, south side
Fig. 78 Parapet panel which belonged to the original
iconostasis; photographed in 1920
Fig. 79 Fragment of the original panel of the iconostasis
Fig. 80 Fragment of the original panel of the iconostasis
Fig. 81 Fragment of the original colonnette of the
iconostasis
Fig. 82 Iconostasis : detail of the original colonnette
Fig.83 South proskynetarion frame, St. Panteleimon
Fig. 84 Bema, vault: Sixteenth-century Ancient of Days
Fig. 85 Bema, vault: Sixteenth-century Annunciation
(Archangel) and Christ with Samaritan Woman
Fig. 86 Dome: Sixteenth-century Divine Liturgy, detail
Fig. 87 Dome: Sixteenth-century Prophet
Fig. 88 South arm of the cross, south wall: Washing of
the Feet

Plates
Pl.l Plan
Pl. 2 Plan at the level of the springing point of
the arches
Pl. 2a Plan of the domes
Pl. 2b Plan of the lead roof cover
Pl. 3 Longitudinal section
Pl. 3a Longitudinal section with chapels
Pl. 4 Transverse section
Pl. 4a Transverse section with chapels
Pl. 5 North-west chapel: arcosolium, section
Pl. 6 South-west chapel: plan and section of the pit
Pl. 7 South Facade
Pl. 7a North Facade
Pl. 7b East Facade
Pl. 7c West facade
Pl. 8 Iconostasis
Pl. 8a Diagram showing distribution of paintings on the
north walls
Pl. 8b Diagram showing distribution of paintings on the
south walls
Pl. 9 Bema: apse

Pl. 10
Pl. ll
Pl. 12
Pl. 13
Pl. 14
Pl. 15
Pl. 16
Pl. 17
Pl. 18
Pl. 19
Pl. 20
Pl. 21
Pl. 22
Pl. 23
Pl. 24
Pl. 25
Pl. 26
Pl. 27

Bema: north wall


Bema: south wall
North-east chapel
North-east chapel: passageways; chapel/bema
(upper); chapel/naos (lower)
South-east chapel
South-east chapel: passageways; chapel/naos
(upper); chapel/bema (lower)
Naos: south arm of the cross, south wall
Naos: south arm of the cross, west wall
Naos: south wall
Naos: west wall
Naos: north wall
Naos: north arm of the cross, west wall
Naos: north arm of the cross, north wall
Narthex: north wall
Narthex: east wall
Narthex: south wall
North-west chapel
South-west chapel

NOTE: Pls. 1-7: Lew Minter (revised from original drawings kept at the Institute for the Protection of Monuments in
Skopje). Pl. 8: Lew Minter (after G. Babi, O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada). Pls. 8a, 8b: Lew Minter (revised
from R. Hamman-Mac Lean). Pl. 4a: Dr. Svetlana Popovi. Pls. 9-27: after original drawings kept in the Institute for the
Protection of Monuments, Skopje.

Map of the Balkans (Revised from D. Obolensky, The Byzantine C om m onwealth)

XVI

INTRODUCTION

The church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi is one of the


major surviving monuments of twelfth-century Byzan
tium. Commonly referred to simply as Nerezi, the church
was built by a member of the imperial family, decorated by
some of the best artists of the period, and crowned by five
domes in emulation of famous buildings of the Byzantine
capital, Constantinople. Thus, although located on the
Byzantine periphery, in what is now the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Nerezi stands as an important
testimony to twelfth-century Constantinopolitan artistic
and architectural trends. Its significance becomes even
greater considering that, uniquely among its contempo
raries, Nerezi is preserved virtually intact.
As indicated by the dedicatory inscription, Nerezi was
commissioned in 1164 by the aristocrat Alexios Angelos
Komnenos, a member of the famous Komnenian dynasty
that ruled Byzantium during the eleventh and twelfth
centuries. The church attests the ample resources and the
high aesthetic standards of its founder. Nerezi is one of a
very few surviving five-domed buildings, and so illumi
nates this important, but scarcely preserved architectural
type. Moreover, the church still contains its architectural
sculpture, which gives us valuable information on liturgi
cal furnishings of the twelfth century, and especially on
the structure of the iconostasis. Above all, Nerezi is
distinguished for the extreme elegance and beauty of its
painted cycle. Since almost all monumental cycles from
the mid-twelfth century in the Byzantine capital have
been destroyed, Nerezi preserves a record of artistic ten
dencies in the monumental art of Constantinople. At the
same time, because many of its artisans must have been
local, it also provides evidence for the high quality of
regional painters, sculptors and builders active in the
province.
Although Nerezi is recognized by scholars as one of the
major surviving monuments of Byzantine art, it lacks a
scholarly monograph, and large portions of its architec
ture and ornament remain unknown and inaccessible even
to scholars.1Its architectural design has not been examined
at all. Its important ensemble of Middle Byzantine sculp

ture is not available for study in published form. Most im


portantly, its extensive cycles of mural painting are known
only through a few images that have been published re
peatedly, almost always in black-and-white.2 The building
thus cries out for a full, monographic treatment. This book
endeavors to answer this need.
This book represents the first effort to study Nerezi
comprehensively. In successive chapters it examines differ
ent aspects of the building: its historical and social context,
its architectural design, its sculpture, and its cycle of mural
painting. In addressing these varied facets, the book at
tempts to relate the different components of the building
both to one another, and to the relevant contemporary
Byzantine monuments. The book does it with two goals.
First, as the pioneering study of this major monument, it
seeks to provide clear data on it: its measurements, ma
terials, inscriptions, furnishings, and imagery. Second, the
book uses this data as a way to gain access to the figure of
the patron, the Komnenian aristocrat Alexios Angelos
Komnenos. Reading in its structural, programmatic, and
aesthetic choices the characteristics of the buildings
patron, the book raises broader questions about the role
which a Komnenian aristocrat and his church played in
Nerezis provincial setting.
Thus, in its scope, the book extends the boundaries of a
traditional monograph and encompasses both the study of
the church and a contextual analysis of the historic, social
and cultural trends of the period. In addition, this study
introduces the complete visual documentation of the
church. A series of architectural diagrams, drawings and
photographs of the decoration, as well as documentary
evidence related to the restoration of Nerezi, are presented
here for the first time.
The book is divided into six chapters that cover the
history, architecture, iconographic and aesthetic consid
erations of the painted decoration, sculpture, and postByzantine phase of the church. The first chapter, which
discusses the historical aspects of Nerezi, represents a
pioneering attempt to relate facts about the history of the
region to the extant information about the church and its

1 The bibliography on Nerezi is surprisingly small. For a listing of bibliography, see T. Vitlarski, Bibliografija za crkvata Sv. Pantelejmon - Nerezi,
Likovna umetnost 12/13 (1989): 83-123; S. uri, Art and Architecture in the Balkans: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1984), p. 51,
no. 123; p. 136, no. 177; p. 168, no.239; p.200, no.405; pp.306-307, nos. 944-951; V. Djuri, Vizantijske freske u Jugoslaviji (Belgrade, 1975),
pp. 182-183; and V. Lazarev, Zhivopis X I-X II vekov v Makedonii, in: Actes du XIIe congrs international des tudes byzantines (Belgrade, 1962),
pp. 105-134.
2 Most of the studies on Nerezi are brief, providing only elementary information about the church. See A. Frolow and G. Millet, La peinture du moyen
ge en Yougoslavie (Paris, 1954), Vol. 1, pls. 15 -2 1. P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Nerezi (Belgrade, 1966); Idem, Crkvata Sv. Pantelejmon vo seloto Nerezi,
in: Spomenici za srednovekovnata i ponovata istorija na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, pp. 89 -9 4 ; Idem, Prilozi za prouavanje crkve manastira
Nerezi, ZLU 10 (1974): 313-322; Idem, Jedna realistika osobenost na freskama Nereza i Studenice, Zograf2 (1968): 4 -5 . R. Hamann-Mac Lean,
Grundlegung zu einer Geschichte der mittelalterlichen Monumentalmalerei in Serbien und Makedonien (Giessen, 1976), pp. 261-27 6; and
R. Hamann-Mac Lean and H. Hallensieben, Die Monumentalmalerei in Serbien und Makedonien vom l l. bis zum frhen 14. Jahrhundert (Giessen,
1963), pp. 16-17; pls. 6-7.

2
patron.3 The chapter explains what can be deduced about
the patrons life and aspirations; what being in Macedonia
and in the town of Skopje implied; how far away, in cultur
al terms, both the capital and other major cities were; and
what major political and ecclesiastical events of the time
might have influenced the patrons decision to build a
church in Macedonia. The answers to these questions, in
turn, provide a basis for our understanding of many im
portant features of Nerezis art and architecture. Built at a
time when the presence of the most distinguished mem
bers of the ruling family of the Komnenoi was strongly felt
in Macedonia, and located in a region of the utmost strate
gic importance for the Empire, the church stands as a testi
mony to the twelfth-century political and cultural rela
tionship between the Byzantine capital and its province.
The second chapter addresses the architecture of the
church.4 This chapter engages in a careful analysis of
Nerezis plan and spatial articulation, as well as in the
examination of the structural and decorative features of its
exterior. The aim of the chapter is to introduce the major
identifying features of the architecture of the church and to
place it within the context of other Middle Byzantine mon
uments. Careful analysis of the church shows that the
architecture of Nerezi represents a unique marriage of
Constantinopolitan and local traditions. A comparative

Introduction
survey indicates that Nerezi shares a number of character
istics with contemporary monuments in its own region,
thus pointing to the existence of major architectural
trends in this geographic area during the twelfth century. In
conclusion, the chapter points out a number of peculiar
architectural solutions at Nerezi which reveal the aims
and aspirations of its patron, Alexios.
The input of the patron is most evident in the painted
decoration of Nerezi. The examination of the painted decora
tion, which is the subject of chapters three and four, contains
the first complete analysis of the twelfth-century images that
are preserved at Nerezi.5The third chapter examines the iconographic program of Nerezi as a whole for the first time.6
It relates the well known and widely published major icons
of Nerezi to the unpublished images, such as those on the
lower walls with their distinctive choice and grouping of
saints, those in the narthex, and in the four side chapels. As a
result, the cycle at Nerezi can be singled out for its innovative
iconography, for the emotive richness of its content, and
for its political message. All of these features are intended
to emphasize the human and emotional features of the
cycle and to provoke a participatory response from the
viewer.
The fourth chapter examines the aesthetic qualities of
the paintings at Nerezi.7 The chapter questions the tradi-

3 The studies relevant to the history of this monument were written in the first decades of this century, and are exclusively focused on the identity of
the patron. The inscription found in the church identifies one Alexios Angelos Komnenos, a son of Theodora Porphyrogenneta, as the patron of the
church. The information in this inscription misled some scholars, such as N. P. Kondakov and I. Snegarov, into believing that the patron of Nerezi
was the son of the emperor Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180): either the illegitimate son with his niece Theodora, or the child from his second mar
riage with Mary of Antioch who later became emperor Alexios II Komnenos (1180-1183). V. Markovi and I. Ivanov, however, disputed those con
clusions. Markovi offered a number of hypotheses, but concluded that it was impossible to identify the patron of Nerezi, while Ivanov stated that
the real patron of the church was actually Alexios Angelos, whose mother was Theodora Porphyrogenneta, a daughter of the emperor Alexios I
Komnenos. Ivanovs view was further supported in an illuminating article by G. Ostrogorski on the family of the Angeli. Ostrogorski maintains that
the emperor Alexios II Komnenos was born only in 1169, and that his mother was Mary of Antioch, facts which contradict the information given in
the inscription, and thus preclude the possibility of his involvement in Nerezi. Moreover, he also points out, that although the mother of the illegiti
mate son of Manuel I was named Theodora, she was not of imperial descent, that is not a porphyrogenneta, thus again contradicting the inscrip
tion. Ostrogorskis convincing analysis establishes Alexios Angelos, the grandson of the emperor Alexios I Komnenos, as the patron of Nerezi be
yond any doubt. See N. P. Kondakov, Makedoniia. Arkheologicheskoe puteshestvie (Saint Petersburg, 1909), pp. 174-176; I. Snegarov, Istoriia na
Okhridskata Arkhiepiskopiia (Sofia, 1924), Vol. 1, p. 87; V. Markovi, Pravoslavno monatvo i manastiri u srednjevekovnoj Srbiji (Sremski Karlovci,
1920), p. 22; I. Ivanov, Blgarski starini iz Makedoniia (Sofia, 1970), pp. 116-118; and G. Ostrogorski, Vozvyshenie roda Angelov, in: Iubileny
sbomik Russkogo arkheologicheskogo obshestva v Korolovstve Iugoslavii (Belgrade, 1936), pp. 111-129.
Other information about the history of Nerezi is mostly collected from the compilations of monastic inscriptions, such as Lj. Stojanovi, Stari srpski
zapisi i natpisi (Belgrade, 1902-1926; reprint 1986-1987), and Ivanovs, Blgarski starini iz Makedoniia. These sources, however, do not tell us more
than that the church actually existed and functioned as a monastery in post-Byzantine times.
4 Information about the architecture of Nerezi is mostly confined to brief discussions of its basic features in general studies on Byzantine architecture,
and tangential treatment of a few select aspects of the architecture of the church in works on other monuments. See R. Krautheimer, Early Christian
and Byzantine Architecture (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1986), pp. 376-377; C. Mango, Byzantine Architecture (New York, 1976), p. 308;
S. Nenadovi, Bogorodica Ljevika. Njen postanak i njeno mesto u arhitekturi Milutinovog vremena (Belgrade, 1963), pp. 107-109; and S. uri, A r
chitectural Significance of Subsidiary Chapels in Middle Byzantine Churches, JSAH 36/2 (1977): 94-110.
5 The painted decoration is the most commonly discussed aspect of the church. Since the twelfth-century cycle was discovered and published by
N. Okunev in 1926, it has received wide scholarly attention. It is important to note, however, that the earliest accounts of the program, such as those
by N. Okunev, F. Messesnel, and M. Fauchon, became rather standard and were often repeated in later works. See N. Okunev, Les peintures de
lglise de Nrz et leur date, in: Actes du IIIe congrs international des tudes byzantines (Athens, 1932), pp. 247-248; Idem, La dcouverte des
anciennes fresques du monastre de Nrz, Slavia 6 (1927): 603-609; F. Mesesnel, Najstariji sloj fresaka u Nerezima, GSND 7/8 (1929-1930):
119-132; and M. Fauchon, Les peintures du monastre St. Panteleimon de Nrz, L'Art Sacr 6 (1938): 213-217.
6 Although iconographie features of the Nerezi cycle as a whole have not been examined, some of the images have been discussed; see G. Babi, Les
discussions christologiques et le dcor des glises byzantines au X IIe sicle, Frhmittelalterliche Studien 2 (1968): 368-386; H. Maguire, Art and
Eloquence in Byzantium (Princeton, 1981), pp. 53-68, 91-10 8 ; and C. Charalampidis, The Importance of the Threnos in the Church of St. Pan
teleimon at Nerezi, Cyrillomethodianum 3 (1975): 149-162. The study of D. B. Trajkovska, Za tematska programa na ivopisot vo Nerezi, Kul
turno nasledstvo 22/23 (1995-1996): 7 -25 , appeared too late to be considered for this study.
7 Although the style of Nerezi paintings has attracted considerable scholarly attention, published studies commonly see Nerezi as a source of influence
on later art, rather than as an important phenomenon per se. See Lazarev, Zhivopis XI-XII vekov v Makedonii (see footnote 1), pp. 110-115;

Introduction
tional concept of stylistic analysis and claims a close asso
ciation between aesthetic and iconographie features of the
scenes and images, both of which aimed at underlining the
message of the program. While accepting the traditional
opinion that the style of Nerezis paintings originated in
early twelfth-century Constantinopolitan art, this chapter
introduces the idea that the aesthetics of the capital had
already been imported into the Balkans by the middle of
the century. A close comparative analysis between Nerezi
and monuments which are located in its vicinity indicates
that Constantinopolitan artists were very active in Mace
donia and that a number of different workshops from the
capital likely resided in the region at that time and trained
local artists to continue their tradition. The presence of
these artists is explained through the importance that
Macedonia had for twelfth-century Byzantium.
The impact of the Constantinopolitan artistic tradition
is also seen in the sculpture, which is analyzed in chapter
five. The sculpture at Nerezi is mostly confined to the
iconostasis, reconstructed from the remains found in situ
at the beginning of this century.8The analysis of the sculp
ture offered here differs from earlier scholarship in the
identification of the sources which may have influenced
the sculpture at Nerezi.9 Close examination of the pre
served sculptural fragments, including stylistic and icono
graphic analysis, establishes them as prime examples of the
artistic tradition which originated in the capital and was
widespread in the region by the twelfth century. This
chapter also attempts to reconstruct the shape and form of
the original iconostasis at Nerezi by comparing it to other
examples of iconostases which are preserved in contempo
rary churches.
A brief account of the destiny of the church following
the death of its patron, Alexios, is presented in chapter six,
the epilogue. Turbulent historical circumstances in Mace
donia, as well as a series of natural disasters necessitated
several restorations of the church. These restorations re
sulted in a number of new painted layers, none of which

matched the beauty, prestige, and programmatic unity of


the original, twelfth-century cycle. With the loss of its dis
tinguished patron, Nerezi also lost its distinguished status
in the cultural history of the region.
In concluding the discussion of Nerezi, one theme, the
relationship between Constantinopolitan and provincial
artistic traditions, evident in its architecture, sculpture, and
paintings, deserves special attention. Previous scholars
who have touched upon that problem were apparently in
fluenced by the current geopolitical structure of the re
gion. For example, in determining the origin of the art of
Nerezi, various scholars claim that it stands as a represen
tative of the Thessalonikan school, as an example of local
artistic trends, as a distinctive Bulgarian monument, or as
an example of the Constantinopolitan tradition.10
A careful examination of all aspects of the church, un
dertaken in this study, establishes Nerezi as the prime ex
ample of the assimilation of local and Constantinopolitan
artistic trends. It seems that the military, political, and
cultural expansion of Byzantium in the Balkans in the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, discussed in the first chap
ter, affected the artistic production. Constantinopolitan
artistic workshops were active in the region and trained lo
cal artists to continue their tradition. Their impact is evi
dent in the five-domed structure of Nerezi, which clearly
recalls Constantinopolitan buildings, as well as in the re
finement and beauty of the style of the paintings and
sculpture. Constantinopolitan artists, architects, and arti
sans, however, encountered a strong local tradition, evi
dent in some aspects of architectural planning and the
programmatic messages at Nerezi. Thus, rather than pro
moting a particular national school or artistic current, the
uniqueness of Nerezi lies in the way in which different tra
ditions are combined. The significance of this monument
goes beyond its artistic merits, as structural, aesthetic, and
programmatic features of Nerezi reflect both the current
political and social conditions in twelfth-century Macedo
nia, and the identity of its patron, Alexios.

V. Djuri, La peinture murale byzantine X IIe et X IIIe sicle, in: XVe congrs, pp. 1 -9 6 ; L. Hadermann-Muisguich, La peinture monumentale
tardo-comnne et ses prolongements au XHIe sicle, in: XVe congrs, pp. 99-127; and M. Rajkovi, Iz likovne problematike nereskog ivopisa,
ZRVI 3 (1955): 195-206.
8 Like the paintings, the sculptural fragments of the iconostasis were also first discovered by N. Okunev; they were mostly scattered around the
church. See N. Okunev, Altarnaia pregrada XII vieka v Nerezie, Seminarium Kondakovianum 3 (1929): 5 -2 3 . Subsequently, the iconostasis was
reconstructed under the supervision of Dj. Bokovi. See Dj. Bokovi, La restauration rcente de l'iconostase lglise de Nerezi, Seminarium
Kondakovianum 6 (1933): 157-159; Idem, Arhitektonski izvetaji. Obnova ikonostasa u Nerezima, GSND ll (1932): 2 21-223; Idem, Izvetaj i
kratke beleke s putovanja, Starinar 6 (1931): 182-183.
9 Following the reconstruction in the early thirties, very little has been said about this sculpture. Apart from K. Petrovs study and a brief analysis by
I. Nikolajevi-Stojkovi and A. Grabar, the sculpture of Nerezi is scarcely noted. See K. Petrov, Kon neispitanata protoistorija na lokalitetot
Sv. Pantelejmon vo Nerezi, Godisen zbornik na Filozofskiot fakultet 7 (1981): 172-186, and Idem, Dekorativna plastika vo Makedonija vo XI i
XII vek, Godisen zbornik na Filozofskiot fakultet 12 (1962): 161-168; I. Nikolajevi-Stojkovi, Prilog prouavanju vizantiske skulpture od 10. do
12. veka iz Makedonije i Srbije, ZRVI 44 (1955): 182-184; and A. Grabar, Sculptures byzantines du moyen ge (Paris, 1976), pp. 105-106. These
studies postulate a wide variety of sources for the style and iconography of Nerezis sculpture: from Early Christian to Islamic art.
10 A. Xyngopoulos, Thessalonique et la peinture macdonienne (Athens, 1980), pp. 1 5-20 ; Miljkovi-Pepek, Crkvata Sv. Pantelejmon (see foot
note 2), pp. 8 9 -9 1 ; and Ivanov, Blgarski starini iz Makedoniia (see footnote 3), pp. 116-118.

CHAPTER I ALEXIOS AND HIS CHURCH

WHO WAS ALEXIOS ANGELOS KOMNENOS?


The church of St. Panteleimon reflects the ambition, polit
ical aspirations, and aesthetic choices of its patron, Alexios
Angelos Komnenos. Although little mentioned in written
sources, either medieval or modern, Alexios was a man of
significant status in twelfth-century Komnenian society.
He was a grandson of the founder of the Komnenian dy
nasty, Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118), and he would
seem to have been a twelfth-century intellectual.1
The sparse mention of Alexios in modern scholarly lit
erature reflects the paucity of evidence about him in
Byzantine sources. In fact, the only written records of
his activity are the dedicatory inscription in his church,
and the documents of the Church Council of 1166.2
Both sources are rather brief. However, when considered
within the general context of the period, they provide
answers to questions concerning the significance of
Alexios as a patron of art, the importance of his founda
tion, and Alexios reasons for building his church in the
Byzantine province of Macedonia.

1. Alexios Inscription
Alexios inscription has been preserved on the marble
architrave above the main entrance into the naos of Nerezi
(fig.LIX). It reads:



.3
The church o f the h oly and ren ow n ed great-m artyr
P anteleim on was em bellished w ith the contribution o f
Lord Alexios K om nenos, son o f the purple-born Theodora,
in the m onth o f Septem ber; indiction 13, 1164, Ioannikios
the monk bein g h egou m en os.4
The inscription informs us that the church was dedi
cated to St. Panteleimon and decorated at the expense of
Alexios Angelos Komnenos, in September of the thir
teenth indiction of the year 6673 (1164), when the
hegoumenos was the monk Ioannnikios. The mention of
the hegoumenos (abbot) indicates that the church was part
of a monastic complex, probably its katholikon.
The inscription also reveals important information about
the social status and aspirations of Alexios. According to
historians, Alexios Angelos Komnenos was one of five chil
dren of a military aristocrat, Konstantine Angelos, and the
youngest daughter of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos,
Theodora.5The fact that Alexios mentioned only his mater
nal lineage in the inscription is peculiar, yet by no means sur
prising. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the tradi
tional family structure in Byzantium changed, giving an
increasing prominence to women.6Moreover, it was also the
time when lineage became a rather important factor in deter
mining the individuals status and power. As a result, it was
quite common, especially among the aristocracy, for chil
dren to use their mothers name - particularly so when the
female ancestry was more distinguished than the male one.7

1 For the identity of the patron and the history of the family, see G. Ostrogorsky, Vozvyshenie roda Angelov, in: Iubileny sbornik Russkogo arkheologicheskogo obshtestva v Korolovstve Iugoslavii (Belgrade, 1936), pp. I ll -129. Some limited information about Alexios can be found in K. Barzos,
H genealogia tn Komnnn, 2 Vols. (Thessaloniki, 1984), Vol. 1, pp. 664-665. About Alexios activity as a Komnenian intellectual, see I. Sinkevi,
Alexios Angelos Komnenos, A Patron Without History?, Gesta 35/1 (1996): 34-43.
2 For the mention of Alexios in the documents of the Church Council, see PG, s.v. Nicetae Choniate, 140, col. 253.
Scholars have tentatively attributed three additional monuments to Alexios patronage. He might have been the owner of a twelfth-century seal, al
though this attribution remains tentative. See, G. Zacos and A. Veglery, Byzantine Lead Seals (Basel, 1972), pp. 1526-1527. Also, the controversially
dated Panagiarion from Mount Athos was attributed to Alexios on the bases of its inscription. See Iu. A. Piatnickii, Alekse Angel Komnin-zakazchik panagiara hranivshegosia v Panteleimonovskom monastyre na Afone, in: Vizantiia i vizantiskie tradicii (St. Petersburg, 1996), pp. 75-84.
In addition, M. Angold, Church and Society in Byzantium Under the Comneni, 1081-1261 (Cambridge, 1995), pp.299-300, suggests that Alexios
may have been the founder of the monastery of the Prodromos near Thermopylae. These contentions still need to be substantiated by more evidence.
3 TOY ()
() ()

4 My translation represents a revised version of the translation provided in A. J. Wharton, Art of Empire. Painting and Architecture of the Byzantine
Periphery. A Comparative Study of Four Provinces (University Park, PA, 1988), p. 118. The problematic word is , translated by Wharton
as to make beautifully. According to dictionaries, the word also means to make beautiful, and is translated by G. W. H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek
Lexicon (Oxford, 1961), as to embellish. While the word embellish does not indicate that the patron actually built the church, its use in surviving
dedicatory inscriptions suggests that it denoted both the building and the decoration of the church, such as is a case, for example, at Skripou; see A.
C. Papalexandrou, The Church of the Virgin of Skripou: Architecture, Sculpture and Inscriptions in Ninth-Century Byzantium (Ph.D. dissertation,
Princeton 1998), pp. 129-132.
5 Ostrogorsky, Vozvyshenie (see footnote 1), pp. 111 -129; and Barzos, He genealogia tn Komnnn (see footnote 1), Vol. 1, p. 665.
6 See A. Laiou, The Role of Women in Byzantine Society, JOB 31/1 (1981): 233-260; and A. P. Kazhdan and A. W. Epstein, Changes in Byzantine
Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Berkeley, 1985), pp. 74-110.
7 Kazhdan and Epstein, Ibid. (see footnote 6), pp. 102-104; and P. Magdalino, Byzantine Snobbery, in: The Byzantine Aristocracy IX to XIII Cen
turies, ed. by M. Angold (British Archaeological Reports, International Series 221, Oxford, 1984), pp.48-69.

Chapter I
2. Alexios Family
In Alexios case, a discrepancy between paternal and
maternal family background is obvious. While his mother,
Theodora, was a direct descendant of the imperial family,
Alexios father, Konstantine, was of a rather undistin
guished background.8 In fact, he received recognition and
the titlepansebastohypertatos only through his marriage to
the princess.9 As the twelfth-century historian, Niketas
Choniates, informs us, Konstantine was from Philadel
phia, but was not descended from a very eminent and no
ble family. Robust in stature and graced with a handsome
bloom on his face, Angelos took to wife Theodora (begot
ten to Emperor Alexios, Manuels grandfather), fortunate
in having his comeliness serve as matchmaker.10
The marriage between the princess and a man of an
undistinguished background did not receive much sympa
thy at the time. Konstantine was looked down on by the
members of the imperial family and he never received the
same honors as other imperial sons-in-law who were of a
more distinguished descent. Even Theodora herself suf
fered from the unwise choice of a husband. In terms of
honors and gifts she was placed much lower than other im
perial daughters.11
Largely ignored during the reign of Alexios I (1081
1118) and John II (1118-1143), Alexios father, Konstantine,
became an important military official during the reign of
Manuel I (1143-1180). Konstantines major activity was
in the Balkans.12Three of his sons, John, Andronikos, and
Isaak are also mentioned in the sources for their military
involvement. Even the son of Konstantines daughter,
Manuel, was known for taking a part in battles.13
No preserved written accounts indicate that Alexios,
Konstantines fourth son and the patron of Nerezi, was a
soldier too. Nonetheless, the presence of his church near
Skopje indicates that he, like his father and brothers, might
as well have resided in Macedonia. Macedonia was a region
of major strategic importance to Byzantium during the
decades of Alexios maturity. A brief survey of its role
within the political and military economy of the Komnenian empire will clarify the presence there of both Alexios
himself and his religious foundation.

5
ALEXIOS DECISION TO BUILD NEREZI
AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE REGION
FOR BYZANTIUM
1. The Balkan Peninsula
During the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Balkan
peninsula was established as a key strategic and economic
region of Byzantium.14Growth of the Byzantine economy
was based mainly on agriculture, and the empire largely
depended on the agricultural wealth of Greece, Macedo
nia, and Thrace.15Moreover, the Balkan peninsula was also
very important for communication with Western Europe,
both through its seaports, such as Dyrrachium and Thes
saloniki and via its major land routes; the most important
highway was Via Egnatia, the road which linked the Adri
atic port of Dyrrachium with Ohrid, Thessaloniki, and
Constantinople (Map, p. XI). The geo-political position
and its natural resources made the Balkans important to
Byzantium; it was thus the preeminent goal of all Komnenian emperors to keep it under tight control. This is
particularly true of the reign of Manuel I. While mainly
concerned about the re-conquest of Asia Minor at the be
ginning of his reign, Manuel had focused his attention on
Western Europe since the outbreak of the Second Crusade.
Manuels major interests were related to South Italy and
the Balkans. However, while he mostly relied on his gen
erals and used his diplomatic connections in dealing with
South Italy, Manuel was personally involved in military
campaigns in the Balkans.16

2. Macedonia
Byzantine conquest of the Balkan peninsula had started in
Macedonia. The battle on Mount Belaica in July 1014,
in which the Byzantine Emperor Basil the Bulgar-Slayer
(Bulgaroctonus) defeated the Bulgarian tzar Manuel,
marked the incorporation of Macedonia into the Byzan
tine Empire.17Basils victory also opened the doors for the
Byzantine expansion in the Balkans, and newly acquired
Byzantine territories spread from the middle and lower

8 See Ostrogorsky, Vozvyshenie (see footnote 1), pp. 113-118.


9 Pansebastohypertatos was a title awarded to an imperial son-in-law. See D. Nicol, The Prosopography of the Byzantine Aristocracy, in: The
Byzantine Aristocracy IX to X III Centuries (see footnote 7), pp. 84-85.
10 See N. Choniates, O City of Byzantium. Annals of Niketas Choniates, tr. by H. J. Magoulias (Detroit, 1984), p. 55 [95].
11 Ostrogorsky, Vozvyshenie (see footnote 1), pp. 113-114.
12 Ibid., pp. 114-118.
13 Ibid.
14 The bibliography on Byzantine expansion in the Balkans is rather large. For the most important studies and a comprehensive listing of bibliography,
see P. Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos, 114 3 -118 0 (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 27-109; J. Ferluga, Byzance et les Balkans vers la fin du
X IIe sicle, in: Studenica i vizantijska umetnost oko 1200 godine (Belgrade, 1988), pp. 17-24; Idem, Byzantium on the Balkans. Studies on the
Byzantine Administration and the Southern Slavs from the VIIth to the X I I h Centuries (Amsterdam, 1976); J. V. A. Fine, Early Medieval Balkans
(Ann Arbor, MI, 1983); R. Browning, Byzantium and Bulgaria (Berkeley, 1975); A. R. Lewis, The Danube Route and Byzantium 802-1195, in:
Actes du XlVe congrs international des tudes byzantines (Bucharest, 1974), pp. 359-369; M. Dini, The Balkans, 1018-1400, in: Cambridge
Medieval History. Vol. IV/1: The Byzantine Empire, ed. by J. M. Hussey (Cambridge, 1966), pp. 519-539; Andrew B. Urbansky, Byzantium and the
Danube Frontier (New York, 1968); and G. Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State (New Brunswick, 1969), pp. 351 -418.
15 M. F. Hendy, Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy c. 300-1450 (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 44-58.
16 Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote 14), p. 105.
17 Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State (see footnote 14), pp. 309-310.

6
Danube to the southern tip of Peloponnesos, and from the
Black Sea to the confines of Istria. Although Byzantium
did not succeed in bringing all the lands of the Balkan Pen
insula under its immediate control, it maintained its dom
inance in the Balkans until the partition of the Empire by
Latins, Bulgars, Serbs, Seljuk Turks and local Greek dy
nasts in the late twelfth and early thirteenth century.18

3. Manuel I in Macedonia
Komnenian emperors expended considerable efforts to
consolidate the external Balkan frontier, to keep Serbia and
Hungary under control, and to restore imperial rule in
Dalmatia.19 Thus, the crisis which occurred on the penin
sula around the middle of the twelfth century provoked
Manuel I s immediate response. On the one hand, Manuel
was facing a serious Norman threat by Roger IIs invasion
of Corfu, Corinth and Thebes in 1147.20 These towns were
known as the wealthiest cities in Greece and centers of the
Byzantine silk industry. On the other hand, the situation
was even more alarming on the western front. The stabi
lized relationship with Hungary and Serbia, following the
war of 1127-29, was seriously challenged by the Serbian
revolt backed by Hungarians in 1149.21 The imminent
threat of this upheaval was both territorial loss and the fear
that Serbs and Hungarians would make alliances with his
significant western rival, Frederick Barbarossa. In addi
tion, there were rumors about the possible invasion of
Epirus in 1162.22
In order to establish sovereignty in the Balkans, Manuel
spent extended periods of time there in the years between
1149 and 1172. He was personally involved in many mili
tary campaigns, particularly those related to Hungary and
Serbia.23 Manuels victories in the campaigns against Serbs

Chapter I
and Hungarians helped him maintain a powerful image as
a leader; they also prevented military advancement of wes
tern European armies.
In between the battles, Manuel and his army seemingly
found a safe-haven in Macedonia.24 Staying in Macedonia
made Manuel close enough to the capital to follow its
affairs; at the same time, the location gave him an oppor
tunity to make quick moves to settle Serbian and Hungar
ian unrest as needed.25 Moreover, Manuel must have felt at
home in Macedonia. By the time of Manuels rule, Byzan
tine political and cultural dominance was well established
in Macedonia. In fact, from the ninth century onward,
Macedonia represented the threshold through which
Byzantines introduced not only their political, but also
their cultural dominion into the Balkans.26
Like most of the conquered territories, following the
defeat of 1004, Macedonia became integrated into the
Byzantine Empire and divided into a number of smaller
administrative units, known as themes.27 A centralized bu
reaucracy with a considerable military force was success
fully maintained there. In order to strengthen their power
within Macedonian themes, the Komnenian rulers ap
pointed people from their own clan to the highest ecclesi
astical and administrative posts.28
According to sources, Manuels favorite residence in
Macedonia was the military camp in the town of Pelagonia
(Bitola).29 As written by Niketas Choniates, Pelagonia for
Manuel was ... an appropriate base of operations, with its
flat plains suited for both an encampment and cavalry
maneuvers; moreover, it was well suited for acquiring in
formation and observing the actions of the nations with
whom he was contending.30 In addition, Pelagonia was
conveniently located on Via Egnatia, thus enabling Manuel
to communicate efficiently both with the capital, and with
the western world.

18 See footnote 14.


19 See Urbansky, Byzantium and the Danube Frontier (see footnote 14), pp. 5 1-13 1; and Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote
14), pp.78-108.
20 See J. Kinnamos, Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus, tr. by C. M. Brand (New York, 1976), p. 74-76; Choniates, O City of Byzantium (see foot
note 10), pp.4 3-47; F. Chalandon, Jean II Comnne et ManuelI Comnne, 2 Vols. (Paris, 1912), Vol. 1, pp. 317-321.
21 Kinnamos, Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus (see footnote 20), pp. 9 2 -9 3 ; Choniates, O City of Byzantium (see footnote 10), pp. 72-78; and
Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State (see footnote 14), p. 383.
22 Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote 14), p. 86.
23 Urbansky, Byzantium and the Danube Frontier (see footnote 14), pp. 67-112; and Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote 14),
pp. 78-108.
24 This text refers to Macedonia as a geographic region, occupying what is now northern Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, eastern
Albania, and western Bulgaria. The Byzantine thema Macedonia had different geographic boundaries. See N. Koledarov, Obrazuvane na tema
Makedoniia v Trakiia, Izvestiia na Instituta za istoriia 21 (1970): 2 19-243; and J. Ferluga, Les insurrections des Slaves de la Macdoine au Xle
sicle, in: Byzantium on the Balkans (see footnote 14), pp. 379-399.
25 Choniates, O City of Byzantium (see footnote 10), pp. 52, 58,120.
26 For discussion and bibliography, see Wharton, Art of Empire (see footnote 4), pp. 91-126.
27 The fragmentation of the themes which started in the eleventh century reduced some themes to the size of a town and its surrounding territories. It
was particularly the case in western Macedonia, where themes like Veroia, Skopje, and Servia were created. See Hendy, Studies (see footnote 15),
pp. 429-431; and Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote 14), pp. 233-234.
For the development of the system of themes in the Balkans, see J. Ferluga, Quelques aspects du dveloppement du systme des thmes dans la
pninsule des Balkans, in: Byzantium on the Balkans (see footnote 14), pp. 1 - 2 1 ; and Idem, Ladministration byzantine en Dalmatie, in: Byzan
tium on the Balkans (see footnote 14), pp. 141-150.
28 Sinkevi, Alexios Angelos Komnenos (see footnote 1), p. 40.
29 Manuel spent extensive periods of time in Pelagonia in 1149, 1150, and 1153. For Manuels stays in Pelagonia, see Kinnamos, Deeds of John and
Manuel Comnenus (see footnote 20), pp. 125-127; p. 246, n. 40; and Choniates, O City of Byzantium (see footnote 10), pp. 89, 91,101, 104, 211.
30 See Choniates, O City of Byzantium (see footnote 10), p. 58.

Chapter I
4. Major Towns in the Region
Pelagonia was also in close proximity with major towns in
the region, such as Skopje, Ohrid, and Thessaloniki (Map,
p. XI). All three towns were located on major routes.
Skopje was the most important settlement on the Naissus
- Thessaloniki route, an extension which branched off
from the major north-south route that linked Belgrade to
Constantinople. Ohrid and Thessaloniki were located on
Via Egnatia, to the west and east of Pelagonia, respectively.
During the twelfth century Via Egnatia was Byzantiums
major communication route with western Europe. It was
used by Crusaders, Venetian merchants and western am
bassadors. Even Manuels bride came by that route in
1142.31
Both Thessaloniki and Ohrid had a long history of Byz
antine involvement and had undergone a significant pro
cess of Byzantine acculturation by the twelfth century.
Thessaloniki was the largest port-town in Macedonia and
the only megalopolis in Byzantium apart from Constan
tinople. The theme of Thessaloniki had existed since the
ninth century, and represented an important military and
political bastion for Byzantium since that time.32 The city
was one of a select few which escaped the great expansion
of the First Bulgarian Empire, and remained in Byzantine
hands.33 As a means of strengthening their rule, Byzan
tines also made a significant cultural impact in the region;
an affinity with artistic tendencies from the capital has
been well established in Thessaloniki and its environs
much before the arrival of the Komnenian clan.34
Ohrid was another important Byzantine town, located
only about 125 miles north-west of Thessaloniki (Map,
p. XI). The seat of the Bulgarian patriarch during Bul
garian rule, Ohrid revived the status of an autocephalous
archbishopric under Byzantine rule. Byzantines, however,
made sure that the archbishops chair was filled by clergy
from Constantinople. Thus, Ohrid represented the most
important ecclesiastical center which promoted Byzantine
religious and cultural ideals in the region.35
While both Ohrid and Thessaloniki had a long history
of Byzantine involvement and represented centers of
Byzantine culture prior to the Komnenian rule, Skopje

31
32
33
34
35
36

37
38
39

40
41

was a small provincial town, distinguished much more for


its administrative functions than for its cultural heritage.
Throughout the Middle Ages, it was the fate of Skopje to
constantly change its rulers. Between the fourth and sixth
centuries, the region was invaded by Goths, Bulgarians
and Slavs. Subsequently, the city was ruled by Bulgarians,
Byzantines and Serbs, until its fall to Turks in 1391. An im
portant economic and ecclesiastical center of the Bulgarian
Empire in the tenth and eleventh centuries, Skopje was
also the capital of the Serbian state under Tzar Duan who
was crowned emperor there in 1346, and whose legal code
was proclaimed in Skopje in 1349.36

DID ALEXIOS RESIDE IN SKOPJE?


1. History of Skopje
Skopje became an important town during Byzantine rule.
In fact, it was the victory in the battle on the river Vardar,
not far from Skopje, that gave Basil II a decisive impetus in
capturing most of Samuels territory.37 Due to the betrayal
of the strategos of Skopje, Romanos, Skopje, the capital of
the Bulgarian State and the seat of the dux of the theme
Bulgaria, fell into Byzantine hands in 1004.38 Its increased
importance is evident from the fact that shortly after the
Byzantine conquest, Skopje and its surroundings received
a status of a theme, still attested in sources in 1198.39 The
town became a seat of the autokrator strategos, to be later
raised to a catepanate, and then to a duchy (ducatus). As far
as its military importance is concerned, the town became
an important strategic point in battles with neighboring
Raka, and the emperor Alexios I Komnenos spent some
time in the city on his campaigns against the Serbian neigh
bors.40
Apart from short periods of unrest provoked both by
local upheavals under Petar Deljan in 1040 and George
Vojteh in 1072, and by the Norman intrusion in 1082, the
eleventh and twelfth centuries were marked by the growth
and prosperity of the town.41 The Arabian geographer
Idrisi, who visited Skopje around 1153, described it as a

Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote 14), pp. 135-136.
Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State (see footnote 14), p. 194, n. 4.
Ibid., p. 301.
See Wharton, Art of Empire (see footnote 4), pp. 92,104-111.
See I. Snegarov, Istoriia na Okhridskata Arkhiepiskopiia (Sofia, 1924).
For geographic characteristics and history of Skopje and its region, see V. Kravari, Villes et villages de Macedoine occidental (Paris, 1989), pp. 142,
160-161; I. Mikulik, Skopje so okolnite tvrdini (Skopje, 1982), pp. 13-17; T. Tomoski, Skopska oblast od XI do XIV vek, in: Spomenici za srednovekovnata i ponovata istorija na Makedonija. Vol. 1 (Skopje, 1975), pp. 54-74; and A. Deroko, Srednjevekovni grad Skoplje, Spomenik 70
(1971): 1-17.
Vizantijski izvori za istoriju naroda Jugoslavije. Vol. 3 (Belgrade, 1966), pp. 101 -103.
Ibid., p. 104.
The first known dux of Skopje was John Taroneites. See Theophylacti Achridensis Epistulae, ed. by P. Gautier (Thessaloniki, 1980), pp. 126-129. For
the development of the city of Skopje into a separate administrative unit and for earlier bibliography, see Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State
(see footnote 14), pp. 311 -3 12 ; and J. Nesbitt and N. Oikonomides, Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of
Art (Washington, 1991), Vol. 1, p. 98.
Vizantijski izvori (see footnote 37), pp. 386, 388.
For Petar Deljan, see Vizantijski izvori (see footnote 37), p. 144; for George Vojteh, see ibid., pp. 184,237-239; for Norman intrusion, see ibid., p. 381.

8
famous town with developed agriculture and commerce.42
Moreover, Macedonian towns, Skopje included, were very
likely a place of commerce for Venetian merchants, as can
be seen from the Charter signed by Emperor Alexios III
and given to Venice in 1198. In that Charter, Alexios III
grants the right to Venetian merchants to develop com
merce with Byzantine themes, including Prounicia
Scopie cum episkepsi Coriton.43
Skopje in the twelfth century was thus a significant
enough town to attract a member of the imperial family,
such as the patron of Nerezi, Alexios Angelos Komnenos.
Located only 4 miles south-west of the town of Skopje, in
the village Gorno Nerezi (Upper Nerezi), Alexios church
represents one of several ecclesiastical foundations built in
Skopje and its vicinity during the Komnenian era.

2. Skopje as an Ecclesiastical Center


During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, Skopje was the
center of the eparchy which occupied the territory of
Skopje Valley, Pinja Valley, and probably some territory
of Upper Morava Valley.44 Under the jurisdiction of the
autocephalous archbishopric of Ohrid, the eparchy of
Skopje seemingly witnessed considerable building activity
during the Komnenian period. According to sources, the
major cathedral church of the eparchy, the Church of the
Three-Handed Virgin, was built after the Byzantine con
quest in the eleventh century.45 The church is last men
tioned in sources in the seventeenth century.46 Other
churches built during the eleventh and twelfth century
were the Monastery of St. George-Gorgos, the church of
St. Michael, and the church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi.47
Among them, only Nerezi is still extant. The preserved
portions of the Typicon of the monastery of St. GeorgeGorgos, however, indicate that churches and monasteries
in Skopje received considerable attention from members
of the Byzantine imperial family during the eleventh and
twelfth centuries. The Typicon of the Monastery indicates

Chapter I
that Byzantine Emperors, Manuel I included, endowed the
monastery with generous gifts of money, land and tax
privileges.48

3. Alexios Relatives in and Around Skopje


The growth of Skopje during the Komnenian period, and
imperial involvement in the region, make Alexios pres
ence in Skopje and its environs quite probable. After all,
Alexios would have been only one of many members of
the Komnenian family who either lived or spent extensive
periods of time in Macedonia during Manuels rule. The
emperors cousin and Alexios close relative, Adrian-John
Komnenos, was the archbishop of Bulgaria with his seat
in Ohrid.49 In addition, Manuels brother-in-law, John
Dalassenos Rogerios, who had a high administrative rank
of a Caesar, was in charge of the theme Strumica and most
lands east of the Vardar river.50 There is even a hypothesis
that Alexios brother, John Angelos, was a duke of Skopje
around the middle of the twelfth century and at the time
when Alexios built his church.51 Moreover, as mentioned
earlier, Manuel himself spent considerable time in the
region.

4. Alexios and His Cousin Manuel I


Alexios presence in Skopje could also be suggested
through his close association with his cousin, emperor
Manuel I. Unlike his brothers who were fighting for
the emperor with arms and weapons, Alexios most like
ly offered his support to his cousin, Manuel I, in the
matters of learning and politics. The program of Alexios
church, as well as his presence during the Church Coun
cil of 1166,52 testify to his intense participation in the
emperors affairs, particularly those related to matters of
the highest intellectual and political importance for the
emperor.

42 B. Nedkov, Bulgaria i susednite zemjiprez X II vek spored Idrisi (Sofia, 1960), p. 37.
43 Koriton was located to the south-east of Skopje and was added to the theme Skopje in the twelfth century. See Tomoski, Skopska oblast od XI do
XIV vek (see footnote 36), p. 58, n. 14.
44 Snegarov, Istoriia na Okhridskata Arkhiepiskopiia (see footnote 35), p. 476; and R. M. Gruji, Skopska mitropolija (Skopje, 1935), pp. 1 -4 .
45 The church was first dedicated to the Virgin; the dedication to the Three-Handed Virgin happened in c. 1230, and is related to the miraculous icon
of the Three-handed Virgin which St. Sava brought from Jerusalem and gave to the cathedral church of Skopje (Gruji, Skopska mitropolija (see foot
note 44), p. 34). The earliest source which mentions the cathedral of Skopje as the church of the Three-handed Virgin is the Charter issued by King
Milutin to the monastery of St. George-Gorgos; see V. Moin et al. Gramota na krai Milutin, in: Spomenici za srednov ekovnata iponovata istorija
na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), p. 214 (ll).
46 Deroko, Srednjevekovni grad Skopje (see footnote 36), p. 10.
47 See Idem; see also V. Markovi, Pravoslavno monatvo i manastiri u srednjevekovnoj Srbiji (Sremski Karlovci, 1920), pp. 21 -24.
48 The Typicon of St. George-Gorgos has been published in V. Moin et al. Gramoti na manastirot Sv. Georgi-Gorg Skopski, in: Spomenici za srednovekovnata iponovata istorija na Makedonija, pp. 97-241. For a discussion about this monastery, see R. Gruji, Vlastelinsto Svetog Djordja kod
Skoplja od X I-X V veka, GSND 1 (1925): 45-75; see also K. Petrov, Pregled na sakralnite spomenici vo Skopje i okolinata od XI do XIX vek,
in: Spomenici za srednov ekovnata i ponovata istorija na Makedonija, p. 76.
49 M. Angold, Church and Society Under the Comneni (see footnote 2), pp. 173-174; and H. Gelzer, Der Patriarchat von Achrida. Geschichte und
Urkunden (Leipzig, 1902), pp. 8 -9 .
50 B. Ferjani, Apanani posedi kesara Jovana Rogerija, Z R V I 12 (1983): 193-201; and E. Jeffreys, Western Infiltrations of the Byzantine Aristoc
racy: Some Suggestions, in: The Byzantine Aristocracy (see footnote 7), pp. 202-211.
51 M. Bokoski, Vizantijski peat Jovana Komnina, duksa Skopja, ZRVI 22 (1983): 38-40. This view was, however, opposed by Oikonomides. See
Nesbitt and Oikonomides, Catalogue of Byzantine Seals, Vol. 1, p. 98.
52 See footnotes 1, 2 above.

Chapter I
Manuel I Komnenos was distinguished both as a states
man and as an emperor who took an exceptionally active
role in church affairs. Unlike his predecessors, Manuel not
only involved himself in questions related to political as
pects of the church, but expressed significant interest and
claimed competence in the issues concerning dogmatic
questions of the Orthodox faith. His involvement in the
questions of Christian dogma is particularly evident in the
documents of the Church Councils of Constantinople
held between 1154 and in 1166.53The Councils, in a general
sense, dealt with the controversy related to the consubstantial nature of Christ and to the questions of hypostatic
union. During these Councils, Manuel took an active role
in arguing the dogma, presiding over sessions, and anathe
matizing his opponents. In fact, in the case of the Council
of March 2, 1166, Manuel convened the Council, imposed
his views upon the majority of participants, and countered
opposition with an imperial edict which legally demanded
adherence to his theological views.54 What is more, in the
absence of public support, Manuel brought members of
his own family to help promulgate his ideas. According to
the sources, the room was filled with the members of the
Komnenian family.
The documents of the Council of 1166 indicate that the
patron of Nerezi, Alexios Angelos Komnenos, was pre
sent in support of the Emperor during the Council. That
Alexios was more than a mere Komnenian family partisan
at the Council is shown by the cycle he installed in his
church. The painted program of Nerezi is distinguished
for its political content which reveals many of the ideas
promulgated by the emperor, as will be discussed in sub
sequent chapters. While Manuel took a rather aggressive
approach in church debates of his time, Alexios, most
likely, propagated his cousin s ideas in the church. Mace
donia, a region of utmost strategic and economic impor
tance for the empire, where Byzantines manifested both
their political and their cultural influence, and where
Manuel spent long periods of time, surrounded both by
the members of his army and his family, certainly was a
good location for such a monument.

9
WHY WOULD ALEXIOS CHOOSE
A PROVINCIAL LOCATION FOR HIS
FOUNDATION ?
1.
Komnenian Aristocratic Foundations
in the Provinces
The presence of an aristocratic foundation in the province,
far remote from the capital, is by no means unusual during
the Komnenian era. Komnenian rule marked the rise of
aristocracy in Byzantium. Aristocratic monastic founda
tions, in general, were a distinguished sign of social prestige.
At the same time, they granted spiritual awards to their
founders, assuring the patron and his family of well being
and forgiveness of all sins in the afterlife. This is at least
suggested by the surviving Typica which constantly em
phasize the importance of the prayers for and commemo
ration of the lay patrons by the monks serving the monas
teries.55 Aristocratic foundations were equally popular in
the capital and in the provinces.
The expansion of provincial aristocratic foundations
during the reign of the Komneni, however, is also related
to political and economic reasons. Komnenian rulers paid
particular attention to providing resources for the mem
bers of the imperial clan. A very popular way in which this
goal was achieved was awarding of control over large es
tates, especially in the provinces, to family members. The
members of the clan were provided with a share of the rev
enues of the state, most commonly by being given the au
thority to collect the state taxation over defined areas.56
The gift of land to a member of the family took care of the
support of the clan, kept wealth within the family, while at
the same time maintaining the state control over the re
sources in the provinces.
Due to its important geo-political status for the empire,
and its natural resources, Macedonia had a significant con
centration of large estates during the eleventh and twelfth
centuries.57 It is well known, for example, that Manuel
gave Kastoria to his cousin Andronikos (1153), and that he
presented his son-in-law, John Renier, with considerable
properties of the theme Thessaloniki.58
Equally important were the gifts of estates to distin
guished members of the military aristocracy, in return for
their service to the country. For example, a military com-

53 For the text of the Synodikon and discussion about the Councils, see J. Gouillard, Le Synodikon de lOrthodoxie: dition et commentaire, TM 2
(1967): 1-2 9 8 ; See also Choniates, O City of Byzantium (see footnote 10), pp. 119-121; Kinnamos, Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus (see foot
note 20), pp. 135-136; Chalandon,Jean II Comnne et Manuel I Comnne (see footnote 20), pp. 640-643, 646-652.
54 See C. Mango, The Concilar Edict of 1166, DOP 17 (1963): 317-330.
55 For a discussion on aristocratic monastic patronage and extensive bibliography, see J. P. Thomas, Private Religious Foundations in the Byzantine Em
pire (Washington, D. C., 1987), pp. 167-244; Angold, Church and Society Under the Comneni (see footnote 2), pp. 265-385; Epstein and Kazhdan,
Change in Byzantine Culture (see footnote 6), pp. 103-104; and R. Morris, The Byzantine Aristocracy and the Monasteries, in: The Byzantine
Aristocracy (see footnote 7), pp. 158-173.
For a discussion on the Typica, see C. Galatariotou, Byzantine Ktetorika Typika: A Comparative Study, REB 45 (1987): 77-138.
56 Hendy, Studies (see footnote 15), pp. 85-90.
57 Ibid., pp. 85-86. Hendy, however, questions whether the sources indicate the theme Macedonia or the geographic region, since the two did not co
incide in the twelfth century. Hendys conclusions about the distribution of magnates are questioned by Magdalino, who claims that Hendy placed
too much emphasis upon the number of large estates in the Balkans and believes that similar estates existed in other regions of the empire. See Mag
dalino, Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote 14), pp. 160-171.
58 Hendy, Studies (see footnote 15), p. 88.

10
mander and diplomat, George Palaiologos, received some
property in Constantinople,59 and the grand domestic,
George Pakourianos, the commander-in-chief during the
reign of Alexios I Komnenos, received large estates in Bul
garia.60
Commonly, newly awarded land-owners would
choose to build or restore monasteries on their estates.
For example, George Palaiologos built the monastery
of St. Demetrios in Constantinople; general Manuel
Boutoumites founded and supported the Kykko
monastery on Cyprus; and George Pakourianos founded
and richly endowed the monastery of Theotokos Petritziotissa near Philippopolis.61 In addition, well known
among the provincial imperial foundations is the Church
of the Virgin Kosmosoteira in Pherrai, founded by Isaak
Komnenos, a son of the emperor Alexios I.62 Nerezi was
also most likely built on the estate given to its patron by
the emperor. That is at least suggested by the fact that it is
mentioned as episkepsis in the territorial descriptions in
the Byzantine-Venetian Treaty of 1198.63 The term
episkepsis was applied in the twelfth and thirteenth cen
turies to an estate that belonged to the state or under the
governance of a member of the imperial clan, yet to a cer
tain degree possessed an independent status.64

2. Financing Nerezi
Like many ecclesiastical buildings in Macedonia, Nerezi
too was most likely supported by imperial resources.
Manuel I was extremely generous to provincial foundations
throughout the Empire, and his lavish contributions to
monasteries, especially those in the Holy Land, have been
discussed by scholars.65 Considering Macedonia, Manuel
only continued the benevolent practices of his predeces
sors. The Typicon of the monastery of Virgin Eleousa at
Veljusa and the Charters issued by emperors Alexios I
Komnenos and Manuel I, indicate that Manuel granted con
siderable gifts to the monastery, not only financial dona
tions, but also land, tax privileges, and legal rights.66 The
sources also inform us that Manuel generously endowed
the Archbishopric of Ohrid, a fact which should not be sur

59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67

Chapter I
prising considering that the archbishop of Ohrid, AdrianJohn Komnenos, was Manuels cousin. It has also been noted
earlier that Manuel granted many rights and privileges to
the Monastery of St. George-Gorgos near Skopje.

3. The Importance of Provincial Foundations


The imperial generosity towards provincial foundations
illuminates the importance of provincial religious estab
lishments. As has been pointed out by scholars, the church
was an important factor in disseminating and maintaining
Byzantine authority. Ecclesiastical authority in the
provinces provided an element of continuity in the gov
erning structure of Byzantium, and thus represented a well
known means of strengthening imperial power in the
provinces. While tenure of secular authorities was limited
to only several years, most of the ecclesiastical authorities
held life-long appointments, giving the church a promi
nent status in the Byzantine provinces.67
Imperial donations to provincial ecclesiastical founda
tions certainly helped strengthen the benevolent spirit
of ecclesiastical circles and the faithful towards the ruling
family. That benevolence was further supported by the
presence of high church officials and active lay patrons
who were important members of the imperial clan, such as
Alexios and his cousins. Thus, Alexios decision to built a
monastery away from the capital is by no means sur
prising.
As an aristocratic foundation in a Byzantine province,
Nerezi reflects a trend which was common during Komnenian period. Much more interesting than its geographic
location are Alexios aesthetic and programmatic choices
seen in the architecture and painted decoration of the
church. The sheer beauty and provocative content of the
painted decoration, contained within the small, intimate
interior of the church, reflect Alexios high social status,
his refined intellect, and above all, his familiarity with the
politics of Manuel I. It will be the task of the subsequent
chapters to examine the ways in which Alexios aspirations
and ideals reverberated before the eyes of contemporary
beholders.

Angold, Church and Society under the Comneni (see footnote 2), p. 299.
For the actual value of the property, see Hendy, Studies (see footnote 15), pp. 212-216.
For a brief discussion and extended bibliography, see Angold, Church and Society under the Comneni (see footnote 2), pp. 274, 303
Ibid., p. 286.
G. L. F. Tafel and G. M. Thomas, Urkunden zur lteren Handels- und Staatsgeschichte der Republik Venedig, 3 Vols. (Vienna, 1956-57), Vol. 1,
pp. 258-72.
Hendy, Studies (see footnote 15), p. 89.
See A. W. Carr, The Mural Paintings of Abu Ghosh and the Patronage of Manuel Comnenus in the Holy Land, in: Crusader Art in the Twelfth
Century, ed. by J. Folda (BAR International Series, 152, 1982), pp. 215-243.
See L. Petit, Le monastre de Notre Dame de Piti en Macdoine, IRAIK 6 (1900): 1-153 ; and P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Veljusa: Manastir Sv. Bo
gorodica Milostiva vo seloto Veljusa kraj Strumica (Skopje, 1981).
J. Herrin, Realities of Byzantine Provincial Government: Hellas and Peloponnesos 1180-1205, DOP 29 (1975): 253-284.

CHAPTER II ARCHITECTURE

INTRODUCTION
Nerezi is a small, cruciform church, 15.90 m long by 9.60 m
wide (pls. 1-7c; figs. I-VI; 1-12). Irregular in its layout, the
church is of a rhomboidal, rather than a standard rectangular
form (pi. I).1The interior of Nerezi is composed of a cruci
form naos, a bema, a narthex and four side chapels located be
tween the arms of the cross. Its exterior, considerably restored
since the erection of the church in the twelfth century, dis
plays an odd combination of a variety of building techniques
which, in turn, reveal more about the history of the structure
than about the initial appearance of the church (figs. I-VI;
1-11). Only the presence of five domes, which crown the
church and represent its most distinguished architectural fea
ture, seemingly recall the original intent of its builder (pi. 2 a;
fig. VI). A hallmark of Constantinopolitan architecture, the
constellation of five domes relates Nerezi to some of the fa
mous imperial churches of the Byzantine capital.
In discussing the architecture of the church, the various
components of the building will be examined on an indi
vidual basis, beginning with an analysis of the interior
spaces. Subsequently, we will examine the exterior articu
lation of the church, techniques and materials used in its
construction, and the decorative elements on the facades.
Moreover, since the eastern side chapels represent a part of
the sanctuary and the western chapels show a close spatial
and. functional relationship to the narthex, the chapels will
be considered integrally with those larger entities.
PLAN AND SPATIAL ARTICULATION
1. Naos: Analysis
The naos, in a manner characteristic of Byzantine architec
ture, occupies the central part of the church (pis. 1, 2;

figs. VII-VIII). To the east, it communicates with the


sanctuary; to the west, it opens into the narthex. The naos
consists of 4 bays: the central, domed bay and three barrelvaulted arms of the cross. The central bay of the naos is
square, measuring 3.80 m by 3.80 m, while the north,
south, and west arms of the cross measure 3.80 m by
2.20 m. The eastern arm of the cross is incorporated into
the sanctuary and is separated from the naos by the iconos
tasis. Thus, the functional space of the naos is reduced to
the shape of the letter T.2
The naos of Nerezi is rather isolated (pis. 1, 2). Defined
by the walls of the cross arms, it barely communicates with
other components of the church. Full walls separate it
from the western chapels, a 0.90 m wide and 2.00 m high
portal is the only opening into the narthex, and tiny nar
row passages are the sole means of communication with
the eastern chapels. The entry into the north-east chapel is
0.66 m wide and 2.11 m high; the entry into the south-east
chapel is 0.70 m wide and 2.37 m high. The only compo
nent of the church which today interlocks spatially with
the naos proper is the bema (pis. 1, 2, 4; fig. VII).
The original relationship between the naos and the
bema, however, is difficult to determine and largely de
pends on the degree of openness of the original iconosta
sis.3 Whether the present airy structure with four parapet
slabs supporting colonnettes and an architrave was all that
stood for a sanctuary enclosure in the twelfth century is
impossible to determine today (pi. 8). However, even if the
intercolumnar spaces were closed, the upper sections of
the eastern arm of the cross surely merged spatially with
the naos proper.
The most prominent feature of the naos is its dome.
Capping the central bay of the naos, the dome is raised on
a drum and supported by pendentives and full walls (pis. 3,
4; figs. VII, IX, XII). Semi-circular in the interior and octa-

1 The irregular layout of the church was not unusual and may have been necessitated by the configuration of the terrain on which it is built. Other ex
amples of irregular layout are found in the church at Vinica, Preslav, at the Katholikon of the Monastery of St. Meletios on Mount Kithairon, at the
Theotokos Church of the Monastery of Hosios Loukas at Stiris, and at the church of the Virgin at Apollonia, to mention the best known ones. For
Vinica, see K. Miiatev, Arkhitekturata v srednovekovna Blgariia (Sofia, 1965) p. 120, fig. 13; for the Katholikon of the Monastery of St. Meletios on
Mount Kithairon, see C. Mango, Byzantine Architecture (New York, 1976) fig. 158; for the Theotokos Church of the Monastery of Hosios Loukas
at Stiris, see P. Mylonas, The Complex of St. Luke of Stiris, Archaeologia 36 (1990): 6 -3 0 ; and for the church of the Virgin at Apollonia, see
G. Koch, Albanien. Kulturdenkmler eines unbekannten Landes aus 2200 Jahren (Marburg, 1985), pp. 48-54.
2 The term T-shaped naos is not commonly used in the literature about cruciform churches; yet in the instances where the eastern arm of the cross is
incorporated into the bema proper, the space of the naos reserved for congregation is reduced to the shape of the letter T. The T-shaped naos, con
sisting of the domed central bay and three projecting arms of the cross, has a long history in Byzantine architecture and characterizes cruciform
churches of the Middle Byzantine period, too. For a general discussion of cruciform churches, see R. Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine
Architecture (Harmondsworth, 1986), pp. 285-300. For a discussion of the revival of this church type in the twelfth century, see R. Ousterhout, The
Byzantine Church at Enez: Problems in Twelfth-Century Architecture, JOB 35 (1985): 261-280.
3 For discussions on the structure of the Middle Byzantine iconostasis, see C. Walter, The Origins of Iconostasis, Eastern Churches Review 3 (1971):
251-267, reprinted in Studies in Byzantine Iconography (London, 1977), No. 3; Idem, A New Look at the Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier, REB 51
(1993): 203-228; A. W. Epstein, The Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier: Templon or Iconostasis, Journal of the British Archaeological Associa
tion 134 (1981): 1 -2 7 ; M. Chatzidakis, Lvolution de licone aux lle -1 3 e sicles et la transformation du templon, in: XVe congrs, pp. 159-191;
T. Velmans, Rayonnement de l'icone au X IIe et au dbut du X IIIe sicle, in: XVe congrs, pp. 195-227; and G. Babi, O ivopisanom ukrasu
oltarskih pregrada, ZLU ll (1975): 3 -4 5 .

Chapter II

12
gonal on the exterior, the drum is pierced by eight win
dows which are the main source of light for the naos. The
naos is also lit by two two-light windows in the upper reg
isters of the southern and northern arms of the cross, by
the three-light window of the bema, and by the main en
trance to the church (pis. 3, 4; figs. VII-IX).
Other important features of the naos of Nerezi are its
small, intimate scale and its squat proportions. Upon
entering the naos, the eye ascends from the low springing
points of the barrel vaults of the arms of the cross at the
height of 3.80 m to the springing point of the dome at
5.60 m and ends at its apex at the height of 10.20 m. The
proportions of the arms of the cross are squat. The width
of the arm of the cross to the height of the apex of the bar
rel vault gives the ratio of 1: 1.42. The proportions of the
central bay are also squat: the side of the bay to its height
at the apex of the dome is 1: 2.77. Consequently, the inte
rior produces no sense of dramatic movement either verti
cally or horizontally. The transverse axis is as pronounced
as the vertical one and the space at Nerezi appears static.
The spatial articulation and structural elements of the
naos at Nerezi exhibit a combination of Constantinopolitan and regional characteristics. Differences between the
two building traditions are particularly revealed in the
proportions of the bay, segregation of the naos, and in the
elements supporting the central dome. Concerning the el
ements supporting the central dome, they were either
piers, or full walls, or a combination of the two. While
piers were most commonly used in the twelfth-century
cruciform churches of the capital,4 a combination of piers

and full walls or just full walls as at Nerezi, were popular


in provincial monuments.5
1.1. Segregation of the Naos
Segregation of the naos is another feature of the design of
Nerezi which may be considered provincial. Although
spatial segregation of architectural components commonly
characterizes cruciform churches, in the monuments in
which piers support the central dome, the naos communi
cates with the side chapels.6 According to the surviving
monuments, examples of a complete separation between
the chapels and the naos, such as is exhibited in the pair of
western chapels at Nerezi, are found exclusively in the
Byzantine provinces. The churches of St. Nicholas, Aulis
in Beotia, St. Demetrios, Varassova on the Gulf of Korinth,
or at Manolada Palaiopanagia in Elis, all exhibit the naos
completely separated from the western chapels.7 In addi
tion to these Peloponnesian examples, one finds the same
design in Epirus, such as, for example, in the church of the
Virgin at Kosine.8
This type of planning is also found in Macedonia. The
naos of the churches at Mordoviz, at Kale, Krupite, and at
Kula, Petriko, all dated to the ninth-tenth centuries, com
pares to Nerezi in terms of the segregation of the naos
from the western chapels.9 If these three churches ante
date Nerezi, the church of Sedam Prestola, Bulgaria is
probably contemporaneous or built shortly after it.10
Thus, in terms of planning, Nerezis builders apparently
did not go beyond the local tradition.11

4 Columns, which were traditionally used in Constantinopolitan monuments as a means of support of the central dome, were replaced by piers in the
twelfth century. The piers are, for example, used in some of the major Middle Byzantine foundations in Constantinople, such as the Kalenderhane
Camii, Kariye Camii, and Gl Camii. For plans, discussion, and bibliography, see See R. Ousterhout, The Architecture of the Kariye Camii in Istan
bul (Washington, 1987) pp.22-2 4 , and Idem, Byzantine Church at Enez (see footnote 2), pp.271-272. F. T. Mathews, The Byzantine Churches
of Istanbul: A Photographic Survey (University Park, PA, 1976), pp. 4 0 -5 8 , 128-131, 171-175; and A. Van Millingen, Byzantine Churches in
Constantinople: Their History and Architecture (London, 1912), pp. 138-164, 164-182, 288-321.
5 A combination of piers and full walls may be seen, for example, in the church at Kale, Krupite (9th-1 0 th c.). In Kale, piers support the central dome
at the east end; to the west, the dome is supported by full walls. Although more elongated in its plan, the church at Kale also resembles Nerezi in the
segregation of its side chapels and in the design of its narthex. See B. Aleksova, Episkopija na Bregalnica (Prilep, 1989), fig. 4; and P. Miljkovi-Pepek,
Larchitecture chrtienne chez les Slaves macedoniens partir davant la motie du X Ie sicle jusqu la fin du X IIe sicle, in: The 17th International
Byzantine Congress (Washington, 1986), p. 491, pl. 2.
Closely resembling Nerezi, for example, is the church at Manolada, Palaiopanagia, in Elis, built in 1143, in which the central dome is also supported
by full walls. For the plan and bibliography on this church, see Ch. Bouras, He Palaiopanagia st Manolada, in: Epetris ts Polytechniks Schols
tou Aristoteleiou Panepistmiou Thessaloniks (Thessaloniki, 1969), Vol. 4, pp. 233-266.
6 See, for example, plan of the Gl Camii in Constantinople, in: Mathews, Byzantine Churches of Istanbul (see footnote 4), pp. 128-131.
7 The church of St. Nicholas is now destroyed. It is known to us only from drawings, photographs, and hypothetical reconstructions. See Ch. Bouras,
Symplrmatika stoicheia gia ena katestrammeno nao tes Boiotias, Deltion 4 (1964-65): 227-244; and S. uri, Architectural Significance of
Subsidiary Chapels in Middle Byzantine Churches,JSAH 36/2 (1977): 101-102. For plan, discussion and bibliography on the Varassova church, see
A. K. Orlandos, Ho Ag. Dmtrios tes Varasovas, ABME 1 (1935): 105-120.
8 The church was reconstructed and now exhibits two piers and two columns as means of support. According to this reconstruction, the walls which
separate western chapels from the naos are later additions. However, the basis for this reconstruction is unclear. There is no evidence to suggest that
either piers or columns were originally used instead of walls. For a reconstruction, see Koch, Albanien (see footnote 1), pp. 36-37.
9 For plans and discussion, see Aleksova, Episkopija na Bregalnica (see footnote 5), pp. 8 1-8 5 , figs. 4, 12; and Miljkovi-Pepek, Larchitecture
chretienne chez les Slaves macedoniens (see footnote 5), pl. 2.
10 See Miiatev, Arkhitekturata v srednovekovna Blgariia (see footnote 1), pp. 187-188. The author argues that the church belongs to the Palaiologan
period. However, his argument is based on the date of the painted program of the church. In my view, the architectural features of this church, such
as its cruciform plan, the segregation of architectural units, and its elongated design, compare much more closely to the Middle Byzantine monu
ments than to later ones.
11 However, it is interesting to note that the plan of Nerezi closely compares to the upper structure of early Middle Byzantine churches in the capital,
such as Bodrum Camii and Fenari Isa Camii. For Bodrum Camii, see C. L. Striker, The Myrelaion (Bodrum Camii) in Istanbul (Princeton, 1981);
For Fenari Isa Camii, see C. Mango and E. J. W. Hawkins, Additional Finds at Fenari Isa Camii, DOP 22 (1968): 177-185; Idem, Additional
Notes on the Monastery of Lips, DOP 18 (1964): 299-319; and A. H. S. Megaw, The Original Form of the Theotokos Church of Constantine
Lips, DOP 18 (1964): 292-296.

13

Chapter II
That this tradition had a long history in the region is
perhaps best exemplified by the church of Hosios David,
Thessaloniki, dated in the last third of the fifth century.12
The reconstruction of its initial shape indicates that Hosios
David, like Nerezi, exhibited a T-shaped naos flanked by
considerably segregated subsidiary chambers to the west;
to the east, the naos was preceded by the bema and two
apsed side rooms. Hosios David and Nerezi are also com
parable in their size, in function - both are monastic
churches, in the proportions of their interior, and in styl
istic features of their twelfth-century paintings, as will be
seen in Chapter Four.
1.2. Twelfth-Century Revival of Cruciform Churches
While the segregation of architectural components at
Nerezi compares closely to provincial monuments, its
spatial articulation is quite in line with contemporary
churches in Constantinople. The twelfth century witnessed
a revival of various types of cruciform churches, such as
cross-domed, Greek Cross, or atrophied cross. As pointed
out by scholars, this revival may have been a reaction to
the historic circumstances.13 At the time when the empire
was threatened by both the Catholic West and the Muslim
East, the reversion to older building traditions may have
represented a conscious attempt to maintain certain
forms that were thought to be truly Orthodox and Byzan
tine.14 It should also be noted, however, that the twelfth
century was a time when financial resources of the Empire
were largely exhausted and when the renovation of old
churches outnumbered new foundations. Thus, a large
number of churches of a cruciform plan may not be new
foundations, but reconstructed old monuments instead.
Important examples for such practice are provided by
some of the major twelfth-century churches in Constan
tinople, such as the Kalenderhane Camii and the core of
the Kariye Camii.15
The major distinguishing feature of cruciform churches
of the twelfth century was the enlargement of the central
bay and broadening of the side bays of the naos. This fea
ture is particularly prominent in the churches of the capi
tal. In the Kariye Camii and Gl Camii, the dome spans al

most the entire space of the naos. It measures 8.50 m in


diameter in the Gl Camii, and 7.45 m in the Kariye Camii.
At Kalenderhane Camii, in plan more closely related to
Nerezi, the central dome measures 7.99 m in diameter.16
The ratio between the width of the central bay and its
height is approximately 1: 2.55, and the ratio between the
depth of the arms of the cross to their width is 1: 1.87. En
largement of domes and broadening of bays enhanced the
unification and monumentality of the naos.
Churches in the orbit of the capital or influenced by
Constantinopolitan building tradition, such as the mon
astery church of St. Abercius at Kurunlu (Elegmi) on the
south shore of the sea of Marmara (1162), and the church
of St. Nicholas in Kursumlija in Serbia, although smaller in
size, have domes spanning almost the entire space of the
naos.17 Moreover, the sense of the wide interior is further
enhanced by the squat proportions of these monuments.
The ratio of the width of the central dome to its height
ranges between 1: 2.3 and 1: 2.6.18
1.3. Naos: Summary
Nerezi compares to Constantinopolitan monuments in
the proportions of its interior. It exhibits the same tend
ency towards widening of the central bay at the expense
of the depth of the cross arms. This tendency is evident in
the relationship between the width of the central bay
to its height in Nerezi which gives the ratio of 1: 2.5; it
is thus quite comparable to cruciform monuments of
the capital. This feature distinguishes Nerezi from other
provincial monuments which, in most instances, have
small central bays and deep cross arms, like the church of
St. Demetrios, Varassova or the church of Sedam Prestola
in Bulgaria.19
In sum, while many of the components of its planning,
such as the T-shaped naos and segregation of its architec
tural components compare closely to provincial monu
ments, the proportions of the church and the desire for a
broad interior reflect planning principles of Constanti
nople.20 Thus, as a cruciform church, Nerezi echoes main
tendencies from the capital while retaining planning prin
ciples of its own region.

12 Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), pp. 239-241; and P. Grossmann, Zur typologischen Stellung der Kirche
von Hosios David in Thessalonike, Felix Ravenna 128-130 (1984-1985): 253-260, with earlier bibliography.
13 See Mango, Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 1), p. 137; and Ousterhout, The Architecture of the Kariye Camii in Istanbul (see footnote 4),
pp. 22-24.
14 Mango, Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 1), p. 137.
15 See C. L. Striker and Y. D. Kuban, eds., Kalenderhane Camii in Istanbul The Buildings, Their History, Architecture, and Decoration (Mainz, 1997),
pp. 58-72; and Ousterhout, Kariye Camii (see footnote 4), pp. 22-24.
16 Striker and Kuban, Kalenderhane Camii (see footnote 15), p. 67.
17 For St. Abercius, see C. Mango, The Monastery of St. Abercius at Kurunlu (Elegmi) in Bithynia, DOP 22 (1968): 169-176; For St. Nicholas, see
M. anak-Medi, M. and Dj. Boskovi, Arhitektura Nemanjinog doba, Vol. 1. Crkve u Toplici i dolinama Ibra i Morave, Spomenici srpske arhitekture srednjeg veka, Korpus sakralnih gradjevina (Belgrade, 1986), pp. 55-76.
18 In Kariye Camii it is 1: 2.55, in Kalenderhane it is 1: 2.37, in St. Nicholas, Kurumlija, 1: 2.5. In the Gl Camii it is now 1: 2.55, but that is inaccurate
for there is evidence that the height of the dome was tampered with in Turkish times.
19 For the church of Sedam Prestola, see Miiatev, Arkhitekturata v srednovekovnata Blgariia (see footnote 1), p. 187, fig. 214.
20 For a more comprehensive discussion on the system of proportions used in Byzantine churches, see H. Buchwald, Sardis Church E - A Prelimi
nary Report, JOB 28 (1979): 26 1-2 96 ; and N. K. Moutsopoulos, Harmonische Bauschnitte in den Kirchen vom Typ kreuzfrmigen Innenbaus
im griechischen Kernland, BZ 55 (1962): 274-291.

Chapter II

14
2. Sanctuary: Analysis
The sanctuary is the eastern extension of the naos and con
sists of three parts: the bema, the prothesis (north chapel),
and the diakonikon (south chapel). It is on the same level
and has the same width as the naos with which it shares
lateral walls (pl. 1). The bema consists of three bays: the
semi-dome of the apse, the 1.00 m x 2.80 m bay in between
the apse and the eastern arm of the cross, and the 2.10 m x
3.80 m bay of the eastern arm of the cross. The apse is
polygonal on the outside and semi-circular in the interior
(pl. 1; fig. I). At the height of approximately 1.30 m, its wall
is pierced by a three-light window, divided by two mullions (pl. 3; fig. I).
The bema communicates with the side chapels (prothe
sis and diakonikon) by means of single openings in its
north and south walls (pl. 1, fig. 17). These openings are
2.41 m high, 0.63 m wide, and 0.96 m deep for the di
akonikon, and 2.30 m high, 0.62 m wide and 0.77 m deep
for the prothesis.
The prothesis, 1.20 m long and 1.30 m wide, features a
dome, an apse in the east wall, and a small niche and a win
dow in the north wall (pls. 1, 12; fig. XXVI). It communi
cates with the naos by means of a 2.11 m high, 0.66 m wide,
and 0.83 m deep opening pierced in its west wall. The
eastern apse, polygonal on the outside, accommodates an
altar niche, set 1.00 m above the floor and measuring
2.37 m in height, 0.85 m in width, and 0.48 m in depth. The
niche features a window, 0.70 m high, 0.23 m wide, and
0.53 m deep.
In addition to the altar niche, the prothesis exhibits a
small niche, 1.10 m high, 0.55 m wide, and 0.33 m deep,
within the thickness of the north wall at the height of
0.65 m (fig. XXVII). Above the small niche, at the height
of 2.50 m, the northern wall of the prothesis is pierced by
a small window, measuring 0.65 m in height and 0.40 m in
width. The main feature of the prothesis, however, is the
dome. Supported on pendentives and raised on a drum, it
caps the chapel.
The diakonikon appears to be a mirror image of the
prothesis; yet differences in detail are significant (pls. 1 , 14;
fig. XXIX). The altar apse, reduced to a niche in the inte
rior of the prothesis, is cut within the thickness of the wall
from the floor level and up to the height of 3.05 m. It is
0.55 m deep and features a narrow window, 0.85 m high,
0.21 m wide, and 0.47 m deep. An unusual feature of the
diakonikon are the three pilasters in its south-east, south
west, and north-east corners (fig. XXIX).21 They measure
0.15 m by 0.18 m and reach to the height of 2.70 m. Instead

of an actual pilaster, the north-west corner displays a


painted imitation of approximately the same dimensions,
which terminates with a now broken bracket (fig. XXIX).
It is painted red and white, emulating marble. Probably the
architect had in mind some kind of a baldachin structure;
yet, it is unclear exactly what effect was originally in
tended. Another anomaly is seen in the south wall. The
window in the south wall of the diakonikon is visible only
on the exterior of the chapel; from within, it is blocked
and covered with paintings (pls. 7, 14; figs. II, XXIX,).
The sanctuary is enclosed on the west side, and thus sepa
rated from the naos, by a templon (pls. 4, 8; fig. XXXIV). It
is important to note that this enclosure extends from the
north to the south wall of the church. Thus the sanctuary
proper abuts the domed bay of the naos directly and is not
separated by an additional bay commonly found in Byzan
tine architecture of this period. The templon has been re
constructed from its remaining parts. Since the templon is
distinguished for its sculptural decoration, it will be de
scribed and discussed separately in Chapter V.
The harmonious relationship between the height and
width of the naos bays is also evident in the bema. The
height of the bema decreases gradually: the apex of the bay
of the eastern arm of the cross is at 5.80 m; the apex of the
bay which links the semi-dome of the apse with the east
ern arm of the cross is at 5.40 m; and the apex of the semi
dome of the apse is at 5.20 m (pl. 3). In plan, the width of
the bema narrows: the bay of the eastern arm of the cross
is 3.80 m wide, the adjacent bay is only 3. 00 m wide, while
the bay of the apse itself is 2.40 m wide (pl. 1).
The side chapels, however, are much steeper (pls. 3 a, 4 a).
Reaching the height of 8.00 m and measuring 1.20 m x 1.30 m
in plan, they display the width-to-height ratio of 1: 6. Small
as they are, they hardly allow a visitor to concentrate on any
thing else but the image of Christ displayed in the center of
the dome - and that only with an effort. The paintings in the
upper zones of the walls are virtually inaccessible due to the
impossible angles at which they have to be viewed.
2.1. Tri-Partite Organization
The analysis of the sanctuary of Nerezi will focus on its
most distinguished features: the fusion of the bema bay
with the eastern arm of the cross, and its tri-partite organi
zation (pl. 1). The tri-partite organization of the sanctuary
is a formula commonly, although not always, employed in
Middle Byzantine churches.22 One of the major character
istics of the tri-partite sanctuary is the functional integra
tion of the eastern chapels and the bema proper. This inte-

21 These rather unusual pilasters are not shown on the plan of the church.
22 A number of churches of that period display a triple sanctuary - an arrangement in which chapels flank the bema bay, yet without the same function
al implications. While the chapels adjacent to the bema function as prothesis and diakonikon in the tri-partite sanctuary, their function in the triple
sanctuary is varied and not necessarily related to the liturgical rites performed in the sanctuary of the church. For a discussion on the Middle Byzan
tine sanctuary, see S. (uri, St. Marys of the Admiral: Architecture, in: E. Kitzinger, The Mosaics of St. Mary's of the Admiral in Palermo (Wash
ington, 1990), pp. 2 9 -3 1 ; Idem, Architectural Significance of Subsidiary Chapels (see footnote 7), pp. 99 -10 1; T. F. Mathews, The Early Churches
of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy (University Park and London, 1971), pp. 105-107; Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Archi
tecture (see footnote 2), pp. 298-299; and G. Babi, Les chapelles annexes des glises byzantines. Function liturgique et programmes iconographique
(Paris, 1969), pp.6 1-6 5 , 105-125.

15

Chapter II
gration, evident at Nerezi, is related to the development of
Eucharistic liturgy in the post-iconoclastic period.23 More
specifically, the structuring of the tri-partite sanctuary is
probably a consequence of the changes which occurred
within the rituals of the Small and the Great Entrance, that
is the transfer of the Gospel (Small Entrance) and the Eu
charistic Host (Great Entrance) from the chapels where
they were kept to the altar where the liturgy was per
formed.24
Quite unlike in Early Christian times, when the litur
gical host was carried through the church and the whole
ceremony had a rather processional and public character,
in post-iconoclastic times the liturgy was reduced from
public ritual to a series of appearances. The proximity of
the side chapels to the altar space, and their communica
tion with both the naos and the bema thus helped this
cause. The priest and deacons would appear from the
north chapel carrying the liturgical host and reciting
prayers. Subsequently they would disappear into the altar
space where the mystical rite would take place. The En
trances no longer moved from along the longitudinal axis
through the church; now they proceeded from di
akonikon and prothesis - the Lesser entrance from the for
mer, the Great Entrance from the latter - to the chancel,
moving briefly into the naos in order to exhibit the gospel
and the Eucharistic elements to the faithful.25 The tri
partite sanctuary, although known in the provinces, is ac
tually a hallmark of Constantinopolitan architecture.
2.2. Fusion of the Bema Bay With the Eastern Arm
of the Cross
Another important feature of the sanctuary of Nerezi is the
fusion of the bema bay with the eastern arm of the cross. This
feature is exhibited in cruciform churches since Early
Christian times, and is seen, for example, in the church of
Hosios David in Thessaloniki.26 While examples of such
planning exist in the Middle Byzantine buildings of the cap
ital, as evident in the Kalenderhane Camii and Atik Mustafa
Pasa Camii, it is more frequently found in the provinces.
As pointed out by R. Krautheimer, the fusion of the
bema bay and eastern arm of the cross is a rather promi
nent feature of Greek architecture from the eleventh cen
tury onwards.27 This was achieved in three variants: either
the eastern corner bays and the bays in front of them
merged into one barrel-vaulted rectangular bay as was the

case in the church of Kaiseriani Monastery, Hymettos; or


they were contracted into a square bay and covered by a
groin or barrel vault28, as exhibited at St. John the The
ologian, Hymettos. The fusion went even further at H.
Yoannis, Ligourio. There the eastward columns of the
naos were lost, and the piers or walls of the eastern corner
bays became the eastern supports of the center bay.29 The
most reduced solution, seen at Ligourio, is also apparent at
Nerezi. Thus, while it is Constantinopolitan in its tri-par
tite composition, the fusion of the spaces and immediate
proximity of the naos and sanctuary proper at Nerezi
agree more with provincial planning characteristics.

3. Narthex: Analysis
The western end of Nerezi is U-shaped in plan (pl. 1). Its main
component is the rectangular narthex extended with two
chapels at its north and south ends respectively. The main
body of the narthex measures 8.30m x 3.05 m in plan (pl. 1).
Most of its present form, however, is the result of a recon
struction carried out in the 1950s (figs. II; 3,5,8,10,11 ). In fact,
all that remains from the original building are its eastern wall
and portions of the lateral walls (figs. 10, ll). The west wall as
well as the vaulting, consisting of a cross-vaulted central bay
flanked by two barrel vaults, are products of the above men
tioned reconstruction. On the basis of his examination of the
remains of the vaulting on the north and south walls, F.
Mesesnel claimed that the original narthex was structurally
bonded with the main body of the church.30 Unfortunately,
none of the photographs illustrate these remains, and Meses
nel s suggestion has to be accepted at its face value. K. Petrov,
on the other hand, views the narthex as a separate entity, most
likely added in the course of the twelfth century. While it
would be difficult to prove, this claim should be noted.31
As it stands today, the main body of the narthex is acces
sible from the outside on three sides : through the central door
and by two lateral doors (pl. 1; figs. II, 5). Two windows, to
the south and north of the western door respectively, and a
small window on the eastern side of the north wall provide
additional light to the narthex. The south bay of the narthex is
distinguished by a narrow bench, 0.45 m high and 0.65 m
wide running along the western and southern walls
(fig. LVIII).32Along the western wall, the bench is topped by
a Roman stele whose provenance is unknown (fig. 75).33 All
of these features belong to the modern reconstruction.

23 See Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), p. 299; and Mathews, Early Churches of Constantinople (see footnote
22), pp. 105-107.
24 Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), p. 299.
25 Ibid.
26 Ibid., pp.239-240.
27 Ibid., pp. 390-393.
28 Ibid., p. 390.
29 Ibid.
30 F. Mesesnel, Vizantiski Spomenici (Skopje, 1937), p. 348.
31 K. Petrov, Kon neispitana protoistorija na lokalitetot sv. Pantelejmon vo Nerezi, Godien zbornik 7 (1981): 153-189.
32 Such benches were used for church councils. For a discussion, see uri, St. Marys of the Admiral (see footnote 22), pp. 5 1-5 2 , n. 106; and M.
uput, Arhitektura Peke priprate, ZLU 13 (1977): 66-67.
33 For a discussion about this stele, see Chapter V on sculpture.

16
To the east, the narthex opens into the naos through the
main portal, and into two small domed lateral chapels to
the north and the south respectively (pl. 1). Like the
eastern chapels, the western chapels are also small (1.40 m
by 1.50 m in plan), feature a dome, and display the same
sense of verticality. These chapels are accessible by means
of small, narrow, openings measuring 2.00 m x 0.45 m
(figs. LVIII, LXII). The two chapels share the lateral
walls with the main body of the church. It is important
to note that while the south entrance is set flush with
the south wall, the entrance to the north chapel is perfo
rated c. 0.40 m from the north-east corner of the narthex
(pl. 4a). If indeed the narthex was a later addition, the
asymmetrical entrances to the side chapels would have
looked awkward on the main facade of the church.
The floor of the north chapel is 0.40 m beneath the floor
level of the main narthex chamber and is reached by two
descending steps. It is distinguished by a partly damaged
tomb (pl. 5). The tomb consisted of two parts: the lower,
which represented an actual burial place, 1.90 m long,
0.68 m wide and 0.86 m deep; and an upper section in the
shape of an arcosolium with a diameter of 1.14 m; it is
0.86 m deep on its west side and 0.92 m on its east side. The
height of the arcosolium arch is 0.96 m. The tomb was built
within and is supported by the north foundation wall. It is
contemporaneous with the church. The cover slab of the
tomb and its front are missing. Furthermore, no archaeo
logical material, such as skeletal bones or any offerings
were found in the tomb. The north wall is pierced by a win
dow, 0.90 m high, 0.40 m wide and located at the height of
3.80 m (pl. 26).
The south-west chapel compares closely to the north
west chapel. Its floor, however, is at the same level as the
floor of the church. It has neither a tomb nor an ar
cosolium. However, it once featured a pit in the shape of
a pithos dug into its center (pl. 6). This pithos is now
covered. The pit was of an elliptical shape with diameters
of 0.75 m and 0.85 m. The upper portion of this pit was
c. 0.85 m beneath the floor level, while its bottom was at
the depth of 2.29 m.34The center of the bottom of this pit
was somewhat higher and exhibited a convex stone bulge
at the depth of 2.05 m. The window on the south wall is
blocked up and is covered with wall paintings.
3.1. Subsidiary Chapels and the Narthex at Nerezi
The compositional arrangement and furnishing of the
western chapels at Nerezi appear to have been necessi

Chapter II
tated by functional needs, because these chapels likely
provided additional space for the liturgical rites per
formed in the narthex.35 In Middle Byzantine times, and
particularly in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, many
churches had separate chapels adjacent to the narthex
in a variety of designs. For example, the chapels are either
occupying the place between the arms of the cross as at
Nerezi; or flanking the main chamber of the narthex
and expanding laterally beyond the body of the church as
in the Katholikon of the Lavra monastery on Mount
Athos; or flanking the main chamber, yet integrated
within the body of the narthex, as seen in the Cathedral
of the Assumption in the Yeletsky monastery in Cher
nigov.36
The design of Nerezi, with subsidiary chapels placed be
tween the arms of the cross and spatially integrated with
the narthex, is commonly found in cruciform churches.
A group of churches which, like Nerezi, have a T-shaped
naos segregated from the western chapels, such .as the
churches at Mordoviz, the church at Kale, Krupite,
the church of St. Demetrios, Varassova, the church of
St. Nicholas, Aulis, and the church of the Virgin in Kosine,
Epirus, all have the western end comparable to that of
Nerezi.37 Their western chapels are segregated from the
naos and communicate with the rectangular chamber of
the narthex. Thus, in terms of its design, the western
end of these churches acquires the shape of the letter U.
A similar layout also appears in octagonal churches, such
as in the twelfth-century church of the Holy Apostles,
Athens.38 The western chapels in the church of the Holy
Apostles communicate with both the naos and the
narthex; however, their western openings are much larger
and thus provide an easier access to the narthex. Thus, al
though considered by scholars as separate entities, these
chapels exhibit both spatial and functional tendencies to
integrate with the narthex proper.
The idea of connecting the narthex with subsidiary
chapels, seen at Nerezi, is also apparent in the layout of
churches with differently designed western ends, such as
in the Katholikon of the Lavra Monastery and in the
church of the Assumption, of the Yeletsky monastery. In
these churches, as in the cruciform ones, the chapels are
mostly segregated from the naos and communicate freely
only with the narthex. Moreover, although most of the fur
nishing and painted programs in these chapels are gone,
what has remained suggests that they were used either for
funerary services or for baptismal rites and the rites of the
benediction of water.

34 Whether the floor of the south-west chapel was at the same level in the original church as it is now is impossible to say.
35 See I. Sinkevi, Middle Byzantine Narthexes with Adjacent Chapels, Byzantine Studies Conference: Abstracts (Princeton, 1993), p. 12.
36 For Lavra monastery, see uri, Architectural Significance of Subsidiary Chapels (see footnote 7), pp. 97-98, fig. 5; for Yeletsky monastery, see
H. Faensen and V. Ivanov, Early Russian Architecture (London, 1975), p. 337.
Other prominent types of chapels include gallery chapels and chapels flanking the naos. While their examination goes beyond the scope of this study,
it is important to note that these types beg for further scholarly attention. For some important remarks, see S. uri, The Twin-Domed Narthex
in Paleologan Architecture, ZRVI 13 (1971): 313-323; and T. F. Mathews, Liturgy in Byzantine Architecture: Toward a Re-apprisal, CA 30
(1982): 125-138.
37 See p. 12.
38 See A. Frantz, The Church of the Holy Apostles (Princeton, 1971), fig. 8 g.

Chapter II
3.2. Liturgical Furnishings and Painted Programs
of Subsidiary Chapels
The liturgical furnishings at Nerezi also suggest that its
chapels might have been used for funerary rites and per
haps for rites connected with the benediction of water.
The arcosolium in its north-west chapel indicates that
some kind of a funerary rite was performed there. Con
sidering the small size of this chapel, the only rite which
is related to funerary services and which could have
been performed there is the pannychis, a rite performed
at the tombs of the dead, especially of the founders or the
monks of monasteries.39 Meant to honor the deceased,
the pannychis was celebrated by a church official who led
the liturgical procession and conducted the service by
chanting in the cemetery chapel.40 The same rite could
have been performed in the south-west chapel, provided
that the hole in the shape of a pithos actually was meant
for burial. However, the pithos could also have been
used for keeping sanctified water as will be discussed be
low.
Chapels which were adjacent to the narthex and con
tained arcosolia were very common in Middle Byzantine
times. We find them, for example, in the Lavra monastery
on Mount Athos, in the Gate Church of the Holy Trinity
Monastery of the Caves (north-west chapels) in Russia,
and in a number of Cappadocian churches.41 Moreover,
the south bay of the inner narthex of Kariye Camii was
conceived as a separate chapel used for funerary services.
This chapel, although a result of the campaign of Theodore
Metochites, was designed according to the Middle Byzan
tine tradition.42
Another ceremony performed in chapels adjacent to the
narthex was the benediction of water for Baptism and
other rites.43 This is testified both by literary evidence and
by preserved baptismal fonts in the chapels, such as those

17
in the cathedral of the Assumption of Yeletsky Monastery,
in the cathedral of St. Sophia, Kiev, and in the Katholikon
of Hosios Loukas.44
The Katholikon of Hosios Loukas in Phocis is the
main preserved example which testifies that both the rite
of the benediction of water and funerary rites were per
formed in the western chapels. Although these chapels
communicate with the naos, their painted program
clearly distinguishes them as separate units. Moreover,
the chapels are screened off from the main body of the
church. These chapels compare to the western chapels of
Nerezi in their relation to the narthex and, most likely, in
their function.
As at Nerezi, the north-west chapel in Hosios Loukas
contains an arcosolium, thus indicating its funerary
function. A small baptismal basin found within the
south-west chapel suggests that some kind of a cere
mony involving sanctified water was performed there.
The function of these two chapels is further made clear
by the painted program. The north-west chapel exhibits
themes associated with Death and Resurrection, such as
the Crucifixion, the Transfiguration and the Ascension
of Elijah.45
The program of the south-west chapel of Hosios
Loukas is related to Baptism. Particularly interesting is
the scene of the Meeting of Christ and St. John the Bap
tist before the Baptism, for the text inscribed within the
scene is connected with the liturgical ceremony of the
benediction of water.46 This rite, known from Early
Christian times and meant to purify, bless, and con
secrate holy water of the Baptism, gained a special promi
nence and developed during Middle Byzantine times.47 If
the pithos of Nerezi was not used for a funerary func
tion, then it is quite likely that it contained holy water;
in that event, the southwest chapel of Nerezi could have
housed the ceremony of the benediction of water, thus

39 There were three types of pannychis rites performed at the time. For a discussion, see M. Arranz, Les prires presbytrales de la Pannychis de lan
cien Euchologe byzantin et la Panikhida des dfunts, OCP 40 (1974): 119-122; 41 (1975): 119-139. For a general discussion about the pannychis
within the context of other funerary rites, see C. L. Connor, Art and Miracles in Byzantium (Princeton, 1991), pp. 83-93.
40 Babi, Les chapelles annexes (see footnote 22), pp. 162-165.
41 For the Lavra Monastery, see G. Millet, Recherches au Mont Athos, Bulletin de correspondence Hellnique 29 (1905): 7 2 -9 8 ; for the Holy Trin
ity, see Faensen and Ivanov, Early Russian Architecture (see footnote 36), p. 339; For Cappadocian examples, see N. B. Teteriatnikov, The Liturgical
Planning o f Byzantine Churches in Cappadocia (Rome, 1996); and Idem, Burial Places in Cappadocian Churches, The Greek Orthodox Theolog
ical Review 29/2 (1984): 151-153.
42 See Ousterhout, Kariye Camii (see footnote 4), pp. 98-100. For the listing of other churches with chapels containing arcosolia, see Th. ChatzidakisBacharas, Les peintures murales de Hosios Loukas: les chapelles occidentales (Athens, 1982), p. 112, n. 484.
43 According to the liturgy of the Orthodox Church, there are three ceremonies related to the blessing of water: the blessing of water to be used for the
sacrament of Baptism; the great blessing of water performed at the feast of the Epiphany; and the lesser blessing of water performed for the feast of
the procession of the Holy Cross (Aug. 1) and whenever the need for additional blessed water may arise. For a discussion on the meaning of water
in the Orthodox Church, see A. Schmemann, O f Water and the Spirit (St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1974); and A. Yavornitzky, Holy Water in
Liturgy and Life (M. A. Thesis, St. Vladimirs Seminary, 1983), pp. 19-29.
44 For a discussion about literary sources, see G. Millet, Recherches au Mont Athos, Bulletin de correspondence Hellnique 29 (1905): 72-98. For a
discussion on baptismal fonts and their placement, see uri, St. Marys of the Admiral (see footnote 22), p. 45, n. 82. For Yeletsky Monastery,
see Faensen and Ivanov, Early Russian Architecture (see footnote 36), p. 337; for St. Sophia, see N. Okunev, Un type de baptistre byzantin, Revue
biblique 31 (1922): 583-589; and A. Powstenko, The Cathedral of St. Sophia of Kiev (New York, 1954), pp. 58, 64; for Hosios Loukas, see Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les peintures murales (see footnote 42), pp. 113-118.
45 T. Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les peintures murales (see footnote 42), pp. 39-82, 111-113.
46 Ibid., pp. 8 3 -1 0 2 , 113-118.
47 See J. Goar, Euchologion sive rituale Graecorum (Graz, 1960), pp. 449, 463, 464; Millet, Recherches au Mont Athos (see footnote 44), pp. 105-123;
and Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les peintures murales (see footnote 42), pp. 114-117.

18
comparing in its function to the south-west chapel at
Hosios Loukas.48
3.3. Liturgical Furnishings and Painted Programs
of Narthexes
Funeral rites and the rites of the benediction of water, per
formed in the chapels adjacent to the narthex, were also
commonly officiated in the narthexes of Middle Byzantine
churches.49 This is suggested by surviving archaeological
evidence, literary sources, and painted programs.
Remains of burial sites in the narthexes of Middle Byzan
tine churches are found throughout the empire.50The prac
tice was particularly popular in the capital, as can be seen,
for example, in the Pantokrator Monastery. The narthex of
the South Church of the Pantokrator Monastery originally
consisted of five bays, with the outer two projecting be
yond the width of the naos. As pointed out by Megaw, the
outer bays of the narthex did not originally have portals in
their west walls, but instead contained arcosolia.51 Shortly
after its construction, the north arcosolium was destroyed
to create an entrance to the mausoleum chapel attached to
the north flank. The south arcosolium of the narthex, how
ever, remained, and was, according to Megaw, the burial site
of Empress Irene who died in 1124. The increased impor
tance of the narthexes as burial sites is also seen in later
monuments, such as in the North and the South church of
the Lips Monastery, in the parekklesion of the Pammakaristos, and in the Kariye Camii.52

Chapter II
Few narthexes of Middle Byzantine churches have pre
served liturgical furnishings related to the benediction of
water. Among them, the most important are baptismal
fonts in the church of the Holy Apostles, Athens, pro
bably from around 1000, the twelfth-century font from the
south church of the Pantokrator Monastery in Constan
tinople, and the twelfth-century font from the church of
St. M arys of the Admiral in Palermo.53
The placement of fonts and the performance of the rites
of the benediction of water in Middle Byzantine church
narthexes is attested by literary sources, such as the Typicon of Irene from 1027.54 Moreover, the same information
is found in several Typica from monastic foundations
on Cyprus, such as the Typicon of the Monastery of Makhaeras, Ritual Ordinance of St. Neophytos, and the
Typicon of the Monastery of St. John of Koutsovendis.55
Typica also maintain that the rite performed in the narthex
was the benediction of waters. Among other rites allocated
to the narthex, according to a number of Typica, were the
funerary rites of pannychis. Thus, as suggested by the
written sources, the rites performed in the narthexes
correspond to those which took place in the western
chapels of Hosios Loukas and, most likely, at Nerezi.
Painted programs of Middle Byzantine churches con
firm that the rites related to the sanctified water and funer
ary services were allocated to the narthex proper. Frescoes
of Baptism are displayed in the narthexes of Panagia ton
Chalkeon, Thessaloniki, in H. Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi,
Kastoria, and St. Peter of Kalyvia.56 The themes of death

48 Considering the small size of Nerezis chapel, it could have housed the rite of the lesser blessing of water which most commonly involved only one
celebrant. However, the water from the pit could have been used also for other rites including the Baptism, since by the twelfth century baptismal
fonts became small and portable and the rite could have been performed anywhere within the church. See Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les peintures
murales (see footnote 42), p. 116; and Millet, Recherches au Mont-Athos (see footnote 44), pp. 110-116.
It is also possible that the pit was used as some kind of storage. According to recent excavations in Serbian monasteries, the pits found at various ar
eas of churches might have been used as treasuries. It is quite possible that the pithos at Nerezi was used for that purpose at least at some points
of the turbulent history of the monastery. However, I doubt that storage was its initial use, since the regularity of the shape of the pithos at Nerezi
is not found in other monuments; also other pits are apparently of later date. I am grateful to Dr. Svetlana Popovi for bringing the results of these
excavations to my attention.
49 These rites were performed in the narthexes since Early Christian times. See Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les peintures murales (see footnote 42), p. 114, n.
492; and J. Jeli, Le narthex dans larchitecture palochrtienne sur le territoire oriental de lAdriatique, Prilozipovijesti umjetnosti u Dalmaciji
23 (1972): 23-39.
50 For the studies which link the development of the narthex with commemorative services in the Middle and Late Byzantine architecture, see A. Papageorgiou, The Narthex of the Churches of the Middle Byzantine Period in Cyprus, in: Hommage a la mmoire de Charles Delvoye (Brussels,
1992), pp.437-438; uri, Twin-Domed Narthex (see footnote 36), pp. 333-344; Teteriatnikov, Burial Places in Cappadocian Churches (see
footnote 41), pp. 143-148; Ousterhout, Kariye Camii (see footnote 4), pp. 97-100; and B. Vulovi, Ravanica: njeno mesto i njena uloga u sakralnoj
arhitekturi Pomoravlja (Belgrade, 1966), pp. 67-71.
51 See A. H. S. Megaw, Notes on Recent Work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul, DOP 17 (1963): 335-364; and Van Millingen, Byzantine
Churches (see footnote 4), pp. 219-242, figs. 79, 80.
52 For the Lips Monastery, see Th. Macridy et al., The Monastery of Lips (Fenari Isa Camii) at Istanbul, DOP 18 (1964): 265-72; for Pammakaristos, see C. Mango, H. Belting and D. Mouriki, The Mosaics and Frescoes of St. Mary Pammakaristos (Fethiye Camii) at Istanbul (Washington, D. C.,
1978), pp. 3 -3 9 ; for the Kariye Camii, see Ousterhout, Kariye Camii (see footnote 4), pp. 98-99.
53 For Holy Apostles, see Frantz, The Church of the Holy Apostles (see footnote 38), p. 17, pl. 10. For the Pantokrator Monastery, see Megaw, Notes
on Recent Work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul (see footnote 51), p. 348, fig. 4; for St. Marys, see uri, St. Marys of the Admiral (see
footnote 22), pp. 45-46.
54 See A. Dmitrievskii, Opisanie liturgicheskikh rukopisei, 3 Vols. (Kiev, 1895-1917), Vol. 2, p. 1051. The rite of the blessing of the water is discussed in
Millet, Recherches au Mont Athos (see footnote 44), p. 116.
55 For Koutsovendis Typica, see C. Mango, The Monastery of St. Chrysostomos at Koutsovendis, and its Wall Paintings. Part I: Descriptions, DOP
44 (1990): 6 3 -9 4 ; for St. Neophytos and the monastery of Makhareas Typica, see Papageorgiou, The Narthex of the Churches in Cyprus, p. 447.
Although the Typica from Cypriot monasteries date in the 13th century, they most likely refer to earlier practices too. For example, the Typicon of
the Monastery of St. John is a copy of the Typicon of St. Sabas.
56 This scene, placed in the north-east wall of the narthex is now destroyed in Panagia ton Chalkeon; see A. Tsitouridou, H Panagia tn Chalken
(Thessaloniki, 1975), pp. 4 5 -4 8 ; pls. 7,8; for H. Nikolaos, see M. Chatzidakis (ed.), Kastoria (Athens, 1985), p. 65, pl. 20; and for St. Peter, see N.
Coumbaraki-Panselinou, Saint-Pierre de Kalyvia-Kouvara et la chapelle de la Vierge de Mrenta (Thessaloniki, 1976), pp. 58-59, pl. 29.

19

Chapter II
and burial are also prominent. The Last Judgment is the
principal theme of the narthexes of St. Stephen, Kastoria,
Panagia ton Chalkeon, Hagios Stratigos, Mani, and Mavriotissa, Kastoria.57 Other themes relevant to the death and
burial of Christ, such as the Crucifixion, the Betrayal, the
Washing of Feet, are also displayed in the narthexes of
Hosios Loukas, Nea Moni, Chios, Daphni, and H. Anargyroi, Kastoria.58
3.4. Could the Western Chapels be Considered
as a Separate Entity?
The foregoing discussion has demonstrated that the narthex
and the chapels adjacent to it were related architecturally
and that they housed related functions. It is thus possible to
assume that the chapels formed an integral part of the
narthex in Middle Byzantine times. This notion becomes
even more plausible when one considers the relationship
between the narthex and its chapels in later times. Palaiologan monuments, indeed, display further structuring of
the narthex. The functional and programmatic integration
between the chapels and the main body of the narthex be
came more apparent at that time, as seen, for example, in the
thirteenth-century churches with twin-domed narthex59.
One of the best examples which illustrates this develop
ment is seen at the fourteenth-century church of Christ
the Pantokrator at Deani.60 Here, the narthex is in a shape
of a large rectangular chamber with four free-standing
columns.61The painted program, however, clearly indicates
that it consists of two separate chapels flanking the central
space.62The north portion of the narthex in Decani is dom
inated by a large scene of the Church Fathers Officiating
before the dead Christ on the east wall. Although there are
no niches in the east wall, the scene of the Bishops Officiat
ing is as a rule depicted only in the main apse, where it is
relevant to its liturgical function. Its placement elsewhere
in the church clearly alludes to the liturgical aspects of the
architectural space. If the imagery of death and burial relate
to funerary rites, the huge Nemanji Dynastic Tree and the
baptismal font displayed in the south portion of the narthex
are to be associated with the Baptism.63
Thus, a process of integration of the subsidiary chapels
with the narthex, which is fully developed in the narthex of

Decani, actually began in Middle Byzantine times. This in


tegration of the architectural units of the western end of
the church likely paralleled the development of the sanctu
ary. As has been pointed out by scholars, the pastophoria
were integrated with the sanctuary and their function was
defined at the beginning of the Middle Byzantine period.64
The integration of the pastophoria was by and large influ
enced by the development of the Eucharistic liturgy. It is
thus plausible that the architectural and functional integra
tion of the western end, seen in a number of Middle
Byzantine churches, was necessitated by the development
and increased importance of funerary rites and the rites of
the benediction of water at that time. The architectural de
sign of the western end of Nerezi represents an important
stage in that development.

4. Summary
In conclusion, a few remarks about the articulation of the
interior of Nerezi as a whole are in order. Despite the fact
that Nerezi is commonly classified as a quincunx church,65
its spatial articulation, as seen above, defies classification.
The naos of a quincunx church is distinguished by nine
bays. Commonly, the side chapels are marked off by piers
or columns which support the central dome. While distin
guishing the chapels from the central space, the dome sup
ports also allow free communication between the two. In
Nerezi, however, as discussed above, the western chapels
are completely separated from the naos, and the eastern
chapels communicate with the naos only by means of
small openings (pls. 1, 2). Thus, the segregation of archi
tectural components of the church is the most distin
guishing feature of the interior composition of Nerezi.

Restorations and the Original Form


of the Exterior
The exterior of Nerezi is distinguished by five domes
(figs. VI; 5). The central dome is elevated on an octagonal
drum and reaches the height of 11.70 m. The four subsi
diary domes are raised on cubical drums, reaching the

57 For St. Stephen and Mavriotissa, see Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 56), pp.6 -2 2 ; 66-84. For Panagia ton Chalkeon, see Tsitouridou, H
Panagia tn Chalken (see footnote 56), pp. 45-49.
58 For H. Anargyroi, see Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 56), pp. 2 2 -5 0 ; for Hosios Loukas, Nea Moni, and Daphni, see E. Diez and O. Demus,
Byzantine Mosaics in Greece: Hosios Lucas and Daphni (Cambridge, Mass., 1931), pls. 119-121.
59 See uri, The Twin-domed Narthex (see footnote 36), pp. 333-344.
60 For the most recent study on this monument and earlier bibliography, see D. Popovi, Srpski vladarski grob u srednjem veku (Belgrade, 1992),
pp. 101-113.
61 In its layout, the narthex of Deani is very close to liti. For a discussion on the liti and bibliography, see P. Mylonas, Gavits Armeniens et Litae
Byzantines, CA 38 (1990): 101-119.
62 See S. uri, Late Byzantine Loca Sancta? Some Questions Regarding the Form and Function of Epitaphioi, in The Twilight of Byzantium, ed.
by S. uri and D. Mouriki (Princeton, 1990), pp. 251 -2 61.
63 See Popovi, Srpski vladarski grob u srednjem veku (see footnote 60), pp. 101-113; Idem, Srednjovekovni nadgrobni spomenici u Deanima,
Decani i vizantijska umetnost sredinom X IV veka (Belgrade, 1989), pp. 185-192; and S. uri, The Original Baptismal Font in Graanica and Its
Iconographic Setting, Zbornik Narodnog Muzeja u Beogradu 9/10 (1979): 313-323.
64 See pp. 14-15.
65 See Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), pp. 376-377.

Chapter II

20
height of 9.00 m. The drums are perforated by single-light
windows on each of their faces (fig. VI). The lower portion
of the building is enlivened by perforations, projecting
apses and recessed blind niches. The north and south fa
cades each feature a three-light window in the lower regis
ter topped by a two light window in the upper register
(pls. 7, 7a; figs. II, III, V). The east facade is distinguished
by the three-light window of the central apse and the two
single-light windows of the side apses (pl. 7b; fig. I). The
west facade displays the main entry flanked by the two sin
gle-light windows on the north and south sides (pl. 7c;
fig. 5). The lowest portion of the church, the dado zone, is
barely distinguishable.
In its present form, Nerezi represents a twentieth-century interpretation of an original Byzantine church (figs.
1-12). The sixteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century
earthquakes took their toll on the building and neces
sitated a number of reconstructions. In consequence, the
church now incorporates considerable reconstructions
and newly added portions executed in modern materials,
all of which obscure its original shape.
The restorations of previous centuries are difficult to de
tect because there are no written records and we must de
pend solely on the physical evidence of the building and on
a few archival photographs. The photographs taken early
in this century indicate that the narthex of the original
church was almost completely destroyed, probably due to
the sixteenth- or nineteenth-century earthquakes. All that
remained are the west wall and small portions of the south
and north walls. Sometimes prior to 1900, the narthex was
rebuilt and covered with a slanted roof (figs. 2, 8).
Since 1900, the church was restored several times: in
1937/38; in 1958-59; and in 1970-1975.66 The conse
quences of these restorations will be discussed below.
Judging by the photographs from the 1937/38 restoration,
the church was in a poor state of preservation at that time
(figs. 2,6, 8). Its facades and upper structure had cracks and
holes, and the south and east facades were buried approx
imately 1 m below grade (figs. 2, 6). Moreover, many fea
tures of the building were rather different than now. The
roof was covered by tiles, and the three-light windows on
the north and south facades were very likely completely
blocked, their upper halves exhibiting blind niches and
probably some ornamental brick patterns (figs. 2-9). Also
closed were the windows of the west side chapels. Perhaps
blocking of the windows on the exterior coincided with
their enclosure in the interior of the church in 1164.
During the 1937/1938 restoration campaign, the soil cov
ering the lower portion of the south and east facades was re
moved and the areas around the church were cleaned and
paved (figs. 2, 3, 6, 8, 9). Also, the cracks and holes on the
facades and on the roof of the church were repaired and
windows were restored to what is believed to have been

their original shape: the three-light windows on the exte


rior of the north and south facades, and the single-light
windows on the exterior of the chapels (figs. 2,3,6, 8, 9).
In 1958-59, the narthex was reconstructed (figs. 10, ll).
Despite remains of the original, twelfth-century narthex,
the appearance of the facades and the form of the initial
narthex remains a mystery. Both the construction materi
als and the modified cloisonn technique used in this re
construction is a free, modern interpretation (fig. 5).
The earthquake of 1963 caused yet another restoration
campaign in the early 1970s. The major consequence of
this restoration was the replacement of the tile roof by lead
sheathing; it was set over a 0.30 m thick layer of cement
mortar applied at that time (pl. 2b; figs. I, II; 5 , 12). Conse
quently, the side domes were somewhat sunken into the
body of the roof, thus seriously affecting the composi
tional character of the upper part of the structure. More
over, the layer of cement mortar and lead sheathing of the
roof also partially obscured the once rather pronounced
undulating eaves line of the domes. This becomes particu
larly apparent when comparing the photographs of the
church before and after the reconstruction (figs. 4, 5). As a
result, the roofline is deprived of its original plasticity.
In the light of a number of alterations throughout the
history of the monument and on account of poor docu
mentation, my further analysis of the church will depend
largely on its present state.

EXTERIOR: ANALYSIS
1.

Composition and Technique

1.1. Compositional Aspects


The major distinguishing feature of the exterior of Nerezi
is the interplay of semi-circular and cubical forms; or of
rectilinear and curvilinear surfaces. Every facade exhibits a
tri-partite division, clearly suggesting the articulation of
the spaces within (pls.7-7c; figs. I, II; 5, 8). On the south
and the north facades, the arched arm of the cross is
flanked by two rectangular surfaces thus distinguishing
the cross of the naos from the side chapels (fig. II). On the
east facade, the tri-partite division suggests a contrast be
tween the bema and the pastophories by means of the three
projecting apses, the large central apse of the bema, and the
considerably smaller apses of the side chapels (fig. I). On
the west side, if the present restoration is correct, the cen
tral section - that is the western arm of the cross - is
marked by the main entrance portal which is flanked by
two rectangular side sections of the wall (fig. 5). The tri
partite division evident on the facades is present in the up-

66 The information about the restorations of 1930s and 1950s is available in the unpublished report kept at the Institute for the Protection of Monu
ments in Skopje. This report also includes the results of the archaeological excavations of the church which took place in 1967. I am grateful to my
colleagues from the Institute for bringing this report to my attention. Partial information about restorations is also available in S. Spirovski, Konz
ervatorski raboti na ivopisot vo crkvata sveti Pantelejmon, selo Nerezi-Skopsko, Kulturno nasledstvo 7 (1961): 107-113. Although mainly dedi
cated to the restoration of painted decoration, this article discussed the architectural restorations, too.

21

Chapter II
per part of the structure, too. As is customary in Middle
Byzantine five-domed churches, each elevation displays
three domes (figs. I, II).
The exterior of the church, however, exhibits many
irregularities. First of all, the dado zone is clearly distin
guishable only within the arched bay on the south facade
and on the south and north flanks of the narthex (fig. III).
On the south facade it is c. 0.35 m high and 0.11 m deep;
in the narthex, it is 0.30 m high and 0.11 m deep. As far
as the rest of the dado zone is concerned, it can be dis
cerned only sporadically by virtue of a rougher texture
and sloppier technique. However, as indicated by archival
photographs, the original lowest sections of the church
were below grade until the beginning of this century and
some damage to the base is likely to have occurred as a
result.
Another irregular feature of the exterior is the lack of
alignment of the windows. It is apparent both horizontally
and vertically. The two small windows of the side chapels
on the north and south flanks are one course above the
three-light window both in terms of its apex and in terms
of the broken chamfered capitals of the mullions (pls. 7, 7a;
figs. II, 5). Moreover, while the two-light window is cen
tered above the three-light window on the north facade, on
the south facade the two windows are not aligned (fig. III).
Furthermore, the small cubical domes are placed too close
to the central dome (pls. 2a, 7-7c; fig. VI). Thus, the com
position of the upper structure lacks spatial clarity. The
domes almost appear as an afterthought, since the win
dows of the side domes which face the central dome are
walled up and obscured (fig. VI).
1.2. Building Materials
Major building materials used in Nerezi are brick, stone and
mortar. Although damage and restorations prevent us from
producing a comprehensive account of either the building
materials or the facade decoration, some remarks can be
made on the basis of what has been preserved. The structure,
in fact, cap be divided into three different sections according
to the materials used: the foundations, the lower, cubical
portion of the building, and the upper structure. The foun
dations were built mainly of irregularly shaped limestone
and mortar. The foundation walls reach the depth of 0.62 0.64 m on the south side, and 1.32-1.44 m on the north side
(this difference is explained by the slope of the terrain).
The facades show different materials and are smoother
in execution than the foundations. The major building
materials of the facades are limestone, poros, brick and
mortar. The photographs taken during the restorations of
the church indicate that Nerezi once displayed a pattern of
horizontal stone-block courses separated vertically by two
to four horizontally layered courses of brick embedded in
thick mortar. At occasional intervals several horizontal
brick courses separated stone courses (figs. 2, 3, 4, 8).
However, this pattern was not consistently applied. For
example, portions of the south facade show blocks of ir
regularly hewn stone randomly set between the courses of

horizontally layered brick (fig. 2). The inconsistency of


building patterns, evident in these photographs, certainly
gave a somewhat clumsy and rough look to the original
facades of the church. This effect was not much improved
in the restoration of 1970s, when thick layers of mortar,
often covering several brick courses, were irregularly
applied to the facades (figs. III; 5).
The upper structure of the church is its most refined as
pect. All domes were built entirely of brick and mortar. Al
ternate brick courses are slightly recessed from the wall
plane and are covered by mortar; as a result, the joints ap
pear much thicker than they actually are (figs. VI; 4, 12).
This technique is known as the recessed-brick technique.
1.3. Facade Articulation and Decorative Aspects
As it appears today, the facade decoration of Nerezi is ra
ther sparse and unimaginative. In fact, it is reduced to a
dog-tooth frieze, brick colonnettes, and traces of brick or
nament. The dog-tooth frieze marks the roof line of both
the lower structure and the domes. Although it is likely
that it originally existed there, the present frieze is by and
large the product of the 1970 reconstruction campaign
(figs. 5, 12). Double and triple recessed arches frame the
north and south arms of the cross (double) and windows
of the domes (triple arches), and radially laid bricks encir
cle all windows of the lower section of the church (figs. III;
5). Colonnettes, made of semi-circular decorative brick,
mark the corners of the domes (fig. 4).
A preserved portion of the brick ornament is revealing
of the original decorative system. A cross made of brick
and ceramoplastic jugs and placed to the west of the win
dow of the southwest chapel is the best preserved (figs. IV;
5). As documented by photographs, that cross was re
moved during the restoration of the narthex in the 1950s
(fig. ll). Both the ceramoplastic jugs and the bricks of the
cross appear to have belonged to the original building;
they were reinserted in the fresh mortar during the 1950s
reconstruction (figs. IV; 4, ll).
Another interesting feature is a meander pattern. It is
now preserved only above the three-light window of the
north facade at the level of the springing point of the
arches on the east side of the north facade of the narthex
(pl. 7a; figs.V; 8, 9). It is quite likely that this decorative
band once ran all the way around the church, actually pro
viding a horizontal alignment for the small windows of the
side chapels and the three light windows on the north and
south facades. That would at least explain their disposition
which now looks somewhat awkward. Thus, despite its
present state, Nerezi may once have been much more in
teresting architecturally, both in terms of its spatial articu
lation, and in terms of the decoration of its facades.
1.4. Constantinopolitan and Regional Features
of the Exterior
The exterior articulation of Nerezi, like other aspects of its
architecture, exhibits both Constantinopolitan and local

22
features. If the composition of its facades, design of its
windows, and the building technique of the upper struc
ture recall the Capital, the sloppiness of the execution of
the facades is most likely indebted to a local tradition.
Concerning the composition of the facades, the tri-partite division of Nerezi, which closely corresponds to the
interior planning of the church, is a rather prominent fea
ture of Middle Byzantine architecture. The central part of
the side facades, which is arched, corresponds to the cen
tral space of the naos; the flanking, often rectangular sur
faces, relate to the side compartments of the cross-in
square or cruciform structures. Such composition of the
facades, as well as their correspondence with the interior,
characterizes most of the Middle Byzantine monuments in
the Capital, as seen, for example in the Bodrum Camii
(c. 920), Eski Imaret Camii (1081-1087), or the Kalenderhane Camii (12th c.) - although these are much larger in
size and differ from Nerezi in terms of perforations, build
ing technique, and exterior decoration.67
The exteriors of these Constantinopolitan monuments
also exhibit polygonal apses projecting from the eastern
end. Both the tri-partite facades and polygonal apses ap
pear in the monuments of Byzantine provinces as a reflec
tion of exterior design in the Capital. The presence of these
features in Nerezi attests to the influence which the center
had on the provinces at that time.
The three-light windows are another feature of the exte
rior of Nerezi which was influenced by the Capital.68 Each
light is arched separately in brick and divided by marble
mullions. According to Megaw, this type of window re
calls the window arcades of early Christian basilicas. The
use of similar windows at Skripou establishes the continu
ity of the tradition.69 The arcade type seems to be fre
quently used in Greek churches during the early years of
the eleventh century, but towards its close it tended to dis
appear.70This type of window, however, remained popular

Chapter II
throughout the Middle Byzantine period in Constantino
ple. We find it in the monuments immediately following
iconoclasm, such as the Atik Mustafa Pasa Camii, and it
seems to have been particularly popular during the twelfth
century, appearing, for example, in the major foundations
of the time, such as the Kalenderhane Camii and the Pantokrator Monastery.71 This type of window can also be
seen in Byzantine provincial churches, particularly those
which show other aspects of Constantinopolitan architec
ture. One such example is the twelfth-century church of
the Transfiguration at Chortiatis near Thessaloniki.72
A third Constantinopolitan feature on the exterior of
Nerezi is the recessed brick technique used in its super
structure.73 This building technique originated in the ca
pital and spread throughout Byzantium during Middle
Byzantine times.74Among provincial monuments, the ear
liest extant examples are found in Russia: in the Desiatinnaia church in Kiev, 996 (rebuilt in 1039 after a disastrous
fire); in St. Sophia in Kiev, 1037; and in the church of the
Transfiguration in Chernigov c. 1036.75 It also occurs in
many churches in Greece, particularly in Macedonia,
Thrace, Epirus and the Peloponnesos. We find it, for ex
ample, at Panagia ton Chalkeon, Thessaloniki; the church
of the Transfiguration, Chortiatis; and Nea Moni on
Chios.76 The only extant monument which preserves this
technique in Serbia is the church of St. Nicholas at
Kurumlija.77
The central dome of Nerezi is also built following the
Constantinopolitan tradition. Although it was likely re
stored in the sixteenth century due to an earthquake, the
hypothesis that it was completely rebuilt at that time can
not be accepted for two reasons.78 First, to my knowledge,
we do not have a single preserved monument built in the
sixteenth century which shows any resemblance to the
dome at Nerezi.79 Second, the shape and the proportions
of the Nerezi dome, as well as its brick colonnettes which

67 For the Eski Imaret Camii, see Mathews, Byzantine Churches of Istanbul (see footnote 4), pp. 5 9 -6 3 ; for the Kalenderhane Camii, see Striker and
Kuban, Kalenderhane Camii (see footnote 15), on p.7, the main church was dated in 1195-1204; for Bodrum Camii, see Striker, Bodrum Camii (see
footnote ll).
68 See Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), pp. 361-362.
69 A. H. S. Megaw, The Chronology of Some Middle-Byzantine Churches, in: Annual of the British School at Athens (London, 1931-1932),
pp. 120-122.
70 See Megaw, ibid.; and G. Millet, Lcole grecque dans Varchitecture byzantine (Paris, 1916), pp. 202-213.
71 See Mathews, Byzantine Churches of Istanbul (see footnote 4), pp. 71-73, 83-85.
72 For Chortiatis, see N. Nikonanos, H Ekklsia ts Metamorphss tou Stros sto Chortiat, Kernos (Thessaloniki, 1972), pp. 102-111.
73 For a discussion on this technique and an extensive bibliography, see P. L. Vocotopoulos, The Concealed Course Technique: Further Examples and
a Few Remarks, J B 28 (1979): 247-260, and C. Mango, The Date of the Narthex Mosaics of the Church of the Dormition at Nicea, DOP 13
(1959): 249-250.
74 Despite some theories that this technique may have originated in Russia, Anatolia, or Thessaloniki, the fact that the largest number of monuments
which exhibit it are preserved in Constantinople testifies to its Constantinopolitan origin. For the Russian and Anatolian origin, see H. Schafer, Architekturhistorische Beziehungen zwischen Byzanz und der Kiever Rus im 10. und ll. Jahrhundert, Istanbuler Mitteilungen 23/24 (1973-74):
19 8-2 10,218-220. For a view that Thessaloniki may have been as important for the development of this technique as Constantinople, see N. Niko
nanos, Byzantinoi Naoi tes Thessalias (Athens, 1979), p. 175. For a list of Byzantine monuments which exhibit this technique, see Vocotopoulos,
Concealed Course Technique (see footnote 73), p. 248, n. 14.
75 Vocotopoulos, The Concealed Course Technique (see footnote 73), p. 248.
76 Ibid., pp. 248-260.
77 anak-Medi and Bokovi, Arhitektura Nemanjinog doba (see footnote 17), pp. 55-76.
78 This idea was proposed by P. Miljkovic-Pepek, Crkvata Sveti Pantelejmon vo seloto Nerezi, in: Spomenici za srednevekovnata i ponovata istorija
na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, pp. 89-97.
79 See Ch. Bouras, The Byzantine Tradition in Church Architecture of the Balkans in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, in: The Byzantine
Tradition After the Fall of Constantinople, ed. by J. J. Yiannias (Charlottesville, 1991), pp. 107-149.

Chapter II
separate the faces of the drum, correspond closely to the
Middle Byzantine domes built in Constantinople and its
orbit of influence. Concerning Constantinople, one of the
many monuments which should be cited is the Kalenderhane Camii. As far as the provinces are concerned, the
church of Kosmosoteira at Pherrai, and the church of
St. Nicholas at Kurumlija, both built under the influence
of the Capital, closely compare to the dome of Nerezi.80
The lower portion of Nerezi, however, seems to be the
work of a local school. It is evident both in a poor quality of
its execution and in the choice of building technique. An al
teration of three to five horizontal brick courses with a
course of hewn stone blocks is commonly found in thir
teenth- and fourteenth-century churches in Macedonia,
Epirus, and Thessaly.81 Among the monuments contempo
rary to and geographically related with Nerezi, this tech
nique is found, for example, in the church of H. Nikolaos
tou Kasnitzi in Kastoria and in portions of the church of the
Transfiguration at Chortiatis, near Thessaloniki.82
Most of the church at Chortiatis, however, like the up
per structure of Nerezi, exhibits the recessed brick tech
nique. The comparison between the two churches can also
be made on the basis of their openings, particularly the
three-light windows separated by mullions. In light of this,
despite the differences in planning, the two churches may
have been built by the same workshop.
1.5 Summary
In sum, both local and Constantinopolitan features of the
exterior articulation of Nerezi were known in Macedonian
churches contemporaneous with or preceding Nerezi. A
peculiar discrepancy between a rough execution of facades
and a much more refined technique of the upper structure
is also not unprecedented. The practice of paying special
attention to the execution of vaulting while disregarding
the quality of the lower portions of edifices is frequently
found in both Macedonia and in other Byzantine
provinces. For example, in Kastorian churches, such as the
Koumbelidiki and Taxiarches, the walls are built in mixed
media, while the vaults are made solely of brick - a more
expensive and more prestigious material.83 An example in
which the exterior appearance of the dome reveals a more

23
refined technique than the walls, as at Nerezi, is seen in the
church of St. Andrew at Peristerai near Thessaloniki.
While the walls of St. Andrew are built of mortared rub
ble, re-used brick is interpolated in its domes.84 An even
greater discrepancy in the quality of execution between the
lower and upper structure of the edifice, quite comparable
to Nerezi, is evidenced in the five-domed Catholica at
Stilo. The facades of this church display brick-faced mor
tar rubble; the faces of the drums of the domes, however,
are tiled, thus acquiring a much more refined appearance.85
A discrepancy in the quality of execution between upper
and lower segments of these Middle Byzantine churches
may be explained as a consequence of both practical and
thematic considerations. For example, it is quite possible
that separate groups of builders were employed to execute
domical vaults, since they are structurally more complex
and require greater expertise. It is also very likely that
building imperfections of the walls at Nerezi and other re
lated churches were once concealed by plaster and/or
paint. Instances of plastered and painted facades are com
mon in Macedonia, as seen for example on the facades of
Kurbinovo and Veljusa.86 One should not, however, disre
gard the possibility that Byzantine builders and their pa
trons were much more concerned about the iconographic
significance of the domes than has been suggested by
scholars thus far. The accentuated beauty of the domes
might have been intended to harmonize with the message
apparent in their interior decoration, both communicating
the special significance of the cosmic realm which they
symbolize. That iconographic significance might have
been attached to the appearance of domical vaults becomes
apparent from the examination of the constellation of five
domes at Nerezi.

2. Five-Domed Structure
The most distinguishing feature of the exterior of Nerezi is
the constellation of its five domes. That feature places
Nerezi within a small distinctive group of preserved By
zantine five-domed churches.
Studies of five-domed churches generally fall into two
categories: those which attempt to survey and classify

80 For St. Nicholas, see anak-Medi and Bokovi, Arhitektura Nemanjinog doba (see footnote 17), pp. 55-76 ; for Pherrai, see S. Sinos, Die
Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira in Bera (Vira) (Munich, 1985), fig. 10
81 See P. L. Vocotopoulos, He ekklsiastik architektonik eis tn dytikn sterean Ellada kai tn Epeiron, Vol. 2 (Thessaloniki, 1975), fig. 18 b; and Nikonanos, Byzantinoi Naoi ts Thessalias (see footnote 74), pls. 18, 40, 66, 67.
82 The facades of the church of Hagios Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi, despite their customary interpolation of Greek characters made in brick, exhibit an al
teration of stone separated by horizontally layered chips of brick. This is particularly visible in the lower portions of the central apse. See N. K. Moutsopoulos, Ekklesis ts Kastorias 9os - l l os ainas (Thessaloniki, 1992), pp. 401-406.
For Chortiatis, see G. Velenis, Ermneia tou exterikou diakosmou st Byzantin Architektonik (Thessaloniki, 1984), pl. 38 b.
83 For a discussion on building techniques and bibliography, see A. Wharton Epstein, Middle Byzantine Churches in Kastoria: Dates and Implica
tions, AB 62/2 (1980): 190-207; see also J. B. Ward-Perkins, Notes on the Structure and Building Methods of Early Byzantine Architecture, in:
D. Talbot-Rice (ed.), The Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors (Edinburgh, 1958), pp. 52-70.
84 See A. K. Orlandos, To katholikon ts para tn Thessalonikn mons Peristern, ABME 7 (1951): 146-167; and A. Wharton, Art of Empire. Paint
ing and Architecture of the Byzantine Periphery. A Comparative Study of Four Provinces (University Park, PA, 1988), p. 102.
85 See Wharton, Art of the Empire (see footnote 84), pp. 140-142.
86 For a discussion on painted facades, see the first of a series of studies by S. uri, Cypriot Byzantine Architecture: the Question of Regionalism (Na
tional Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation 1997 Annual lectures, forthcoming); L. Hadermann-Misguich, Une longue tradition byzantine: La d
coration extrieure des glises, Zograf 7 (1977): 5 -1 0 ; and M. anak-Medi, Slikani ukras na crkvi Sv. Ahilija u Arilju, Zograf 9 (1978): 5-12.

24
monuments and those that attempt to explain the genesis
of this architectural type.87 Both are handicapped by the
small number of surviving monuments and by their often
insecure dating: the latter is particularly true of the Middle
Byzantine monuments. Moreover, a large majority of
studies of five-domed churches treat the surviving monu
ments as a separate phenomenon within Byzantine archi
tecture as a whole. However, as will be discussed below,
each period brought different features and problems re
lated to this architectural type. Thus, in attempting to
place Nerezi in the context of the five-domed churches, we
will focus our attention on the Middle Byzantine group in
order to find answers to several questions. What are the
major distinguishing features of Middle Byzantine fivedomed churches? What is their significance, and why were
they five-domed? Finally, how do they relate to other fivedomed Byzantine churches?
2.1. Middle Byzantine Five-Domed Churches
in Constantinople
The earliest known five-domed church from the Middle
Byzantine period is the Nea of Basil I.88 Consecrated in
881, the church is known to us only from the written
sources and a few summary drawings.89 They inform us
that the Nea was a lavishly decorated palatine church. Its
interior displayed mosaics, marble, gilded silver and pre
cious stones. On the exterior, the church was preceded by
an atrium with fountains to the west, and was flanked by
barrel-vaulted porticos to the north and the south. It is
also conjectured from the texts that the church had a fivedomed naos built either on a cross-in-square or a cruci
form plan.90 As a symbol of imperial wealth and affluence,
the church impressed travelers for many centuries.91 It is
thus by no means surprising that the church may have ex
erted much influence both on the architecture of Constan

Chapter II
tinople and on the provinces.92 One of its aspects, its
five domed scheme, apparently spread throughout the
Empire.
The church of St. George, Mangana, is another Constantinopolitan monument which is believed to have been
five-domed.93 Like the Nea, the church of St. George was
an imperial foundation. It was built in the middle of the
eleventh century (1042-1055) by the Emperor Constan
tine IX Monomachos as the Katholikon of the monastery
of Mangana. The church is known both from contempo
rary literary sources and from the remains of its substruc
ture revealed in 1921 and 1922 during the excavations car
ried out by Demangel and Mamboury.94 The architectural
type of the church has been a subject of a scholarly debate,
and the church has been reconstructed as octagon-domed,
as cross-shaped, and most recently as an ambulatory
church.95 For our purposes, however, it is important to
note that all of the reconstructions assumed that it was a
five-domed church.
A third Constantinopolitan monument which is recon
structed as having been five-domed is the Theotokos
Church (North Church) of the Monastery of Constantine
Lips.96 Preserved only in ruins, the church is of an elon
gated cross-in-square plan. It has been suggested that it
once had five domes, the subsidiary domes rising over the
four roof chapels placed at the extreme corner bays of the
church - two over the narthex and two over the pastophoria. The existence of western domes has been questioned
by scholars.97
Apart from these three churches, no other five-domed
churches are known to have existed in the Capital in Mid
dle Byzantine times. There are, however, several surviving
churches with five domes in the provinces and neighbor
ing lands. These churches are: the Spaso-Preobrazhenskii
Sabor at Chernigov and the Uspenskii Sabor at Vladimir,
in Russia; the church of the Holy Apostles at Ani in

87 Among the studies which deal with the classification of the five-domed churches, see E. Haditrifonos, Pristup tipologiji petokupolnih crkava u
vizantijskoj arhitekturi, Saoptenja 22/23 (1990-1991): 4 1-7 6 ; A. K. Orlandos, Palaiochristianika kai Byzantina mnmeia Tegeas-Nykliou,
ABME 12 (1973): 141-158; and Idem, H Pantanassa ts Monembasias, ABME 1 (1935): 141-151. For the genesis of this architectural type, see
Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 80), pp.211 -2 2 2 ; S.uri, Graanica: King Milutins church and Its Place in Late Byzan
tine Architecture (University Park, PA, 1979), pp. 85 -8 8 ; Idem, Subsidiary Chapels, pp. 101 -104; H. Buchwald, Sardis Church E. A Preliminary
Report, J B 26 (1977): 27-283; H. Hallensleben, Untersuchungen zur Genesis und Typologie des Mystratypus, JB 26 (1977): 105-118; and
S. Nenadovi, Bogorodica Ljevika: njen poloaj i njeno mesto i uloga u arhitekturi Milutinovog vremena (Belgrade, 1963), pp. 119-135.
88 See S. uri, Architectural Reconsideration of the Nea Ekklesia, in: Byzantine Studies Conference: Abstracts 6 (1980), pp. 11-12 ; and C. Mango
and I. evenko, Some Churches and Monasteries on the Southern Shore of the Sea of Marmara, DOP 27 (1973): 235-277.
89 For descriptions, see G. P. Majeska, Russian Travelers to Constantinople in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (Washington, 1984), pp. 37, 247;
C. Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453: Sources and Documents (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1972), p. 194; and Anthony of Novgorod
in S. Khitrovo, Itinraires russes en Orient (Geneva, 1889), pp. 98-102.
90 See Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), p. 356.
91 For a discussion and summary of the impact of the church on the visitors, see Majeska, Russian Travelers (see footnote 89), pp. 37, 247; and P. Magdalino, Observations on the Nea Ekklesia of Basil I, J B 37 (1987): 5 1-6 4 .
92 For a discussion about its influence, see Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), p. 356.
93 See Ch. Bouras, Typologikes paratrseis sto Katholiko ts Mons tn Mangann stn Knstantinoupol, Deltion 31 (1976): 136-153 with earlier
bibliography; Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), p. 349, n. 16; and Mango and evenko, Some Churches
and Monasteries on the Southern Shore of the Sea of Marmara (see footnote 88), pp. 253-255.
94 See R. Demangel and E. Mamboury, Le Quartier des Manganes et la premier rgion de Constantinople (Paris, 1939), pp. 19-37.
95 For discussion and earlier bibliography, see Bouras, Typologikes paratrseis sto Katholiko ts Mons tn Mangann (see footnote 93),
pp. 136-153.
96 See A. H. S. Megaw, The Original Form of the Theotokos Church of Constantine Lips, DOP 18 (1964): 292-296; Krautheimer, Early Christian
and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), pp. 358-359; and Buchwald, Sardis Church E (see footnote 87), pp. 278-280.
97 See uri, Architectural Significance of Subsidiary Chapels (see footnote 7), p. 109, n. 55.

Chapter II
Armenia; the churches of Palaea Episkopi at Tegea and
Geroumena, Monemvasia, on Peloponnesos, in Greece;
and the church of San Marco and the Catholica at Stilo
in Calabria. We will now turn our attention to those
churches.

25
earlier examples of Armenian five-domed churches, S.
uri suggested that the solution at the Holy Apostles
probably represents a continuation of an earlier Middle
Byzantine practice.101
2.2.3. G reece

2.2. Middle Byzantine Five-Domed Churches


Outside of Constantinople
2.2.1. Russia
The Spaso-Preobrazhenskii Sabor at Chernigov, dated in
1036, is one of the oldest surviving five-domed churches.98
It is a cross-domed (ambulatory) church, its inner space di
vided into three aisles by piers. The small domes are placed
between the arms of the cross: the western domes at the
westernmost corners of the naos, the eastern domes over
the eastern corners of the naos. As a result of the latter
arrangement, the pastophoria are not domed, as was cus
tomary in other spheres of Byzantine influence. All domes
are raised upon cylindrical drums. The drums of the small
domes are pierced by eight tall arched windows, while that
of the central dome displays an alternation of six windows
and six blind niches. Side domes are placed close to the
central dome and rise straight from the roof.
Another Russian Middle Byzantine church with five
domes is Uspenskii Sabor at Vladimir.99 Here, however,
the domes appear to have been an afterthought. The
church was built in 1158-1160 as a cross-in-square with a
central dome. Due to a fire, the ambulatory wings and four
subsidiary domes were built in 1185-1189. The cylindrical
shape and attenuated proportions of the dome drums com
pare to Chernigov and other Russian churches, their de
sign and proportions representing a local trend.
2.2.2. Armenia
With regard to Armenia, the only church which has been
reconstructed as having been five-domed is the church of
the Holy Apostles at Ani, dated in the first quarter of
the eleventh century.100 It displays a complex plan with a
quatrefoil naos surrounded by four symmetrically
arranged elaborate chapels; the chapels were originally
covered by domes elevated on tall drums. Since we have no

In Greece, two regions still preserve their Middle Byzan


tine five domed churches: the Peloponnesos and Thrace.
Geographically separated, the five-domed churches of
these two regions display different characteristics. The
Thracian example, the church of the Virgin Kosmosoteira
at Pherrai, is a large monument built in 1152 by Isaak
Komnenos, a son of Alexios I Komnenos.102 An impe
rial foundation, the church follows Constantinopolitan
models as far as its architecture is concerned. It is a variant
of a cross plan on piers. The central dome is supported in
an unusual way, on two masonry piers to the east and two
pairs of marble columns to the west.103 On the exterior, the
central dome is built of brick, it is twelve-sided, and its
faces are separated by brick colonnettes similar to those at
Nerezi. Such colonnettes are also used on the side domes;
yet, the side domes are considerably smaller and are eight
sided.
Compared to Pherrai, the Peloponnesian churches are
considerably smaller in size; the shape of their domes
and the design of their plans differ too. Two five-domed
churches preserved on Peloponnesos from the Middle
Byzantine period are the church at Tegea and the church of
Pantanassa near Monemvasia.104 Both exhibit a cross-in
square plan. Moreover, both have four piers supporting
the central dome characterized by a cylindrical drum. The
church at Tegea is most likely from the late tenth /early
eleventh century.105 Its present shape is, by and large, a re
sult of a reconstruction in the late nineteenth century. Yet,
it is important to note that the drums of the subsidiary
domes are elevated on cubical bases, thus giving the church
a more attenuated silhouette. Such a practice is seen,
among Middle Byzantine monuments, only in the church
of Panagia ton Chalkeon in Thessaloniki; it became more
common in Palaiologan times.106 Cubical bases supporting
drums are absent from another five-domed Peloponnesian
church, the Pantanassa near Monemvasia.107This church is
also characterized by cylindrical side domes; yet four

98 See A. I. Komech, Drevnerusskoe zodchestvo kontsa X-nachala XII v. (Moscow, 1987), pp. 135-168, and N. Brunov et al., Istoriia russkoi arkhitektury (Moscow, 1956), p. 26.
99 See A. V. Vlasov et al., Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury. Vol. 3, in: I. S. Iaralov et al ., Arkhitektura Vostochnoi Evropy (Moscow, 1966), pp. 606-607.
100 See N. M. Tokarskii, Arkhitektura Armenii IV -X IV v. (Erevan, 1961), p. 112.
101 uri, Architectural Significance of Subsidiary Chapels (see footnote 7), pp. 103-104.
102 For a discussion and bibliography, see Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 80).
103 For a discussion, see ibid., pp. 222-232.
104 For Tegea, see Orlandos, Palaiochristianika kai Byzantina mnmeia Tegeas-Nykliou (see footnote 87), pp. 141-152 ; for Monemvasia, see Idem,
H Pantanassa ts Monembasias (see footnote 87), pp. 141 -151.
105 See Orlandos, Palaiochristianika kai Byzantina mnmeia Tegeas-Nykliou (see footnote 87), pp. 141 -152; and A. H. S. Megaw, Byzantine Retic
ulate Revetments, in: Charisterion eis Anastasion K. Orlandon (Athens, 1965), p. 17, pl. III; for a dating in the 12th century, see Sinos, Die Kloster
kirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 80), pp. 211 -212.
106 For Panagia ton Chalkeon, see Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), p. 374, fig. 329; for Palaiologan examples,
see uri, Graanica (see footnote 87), pp. 114-116.
107 See Orlandos, H Pantanassa ts Monembasias (see footnote 87), pp. 141-151.

26
stone colonnettes make the otherwise small domes appear
cubical, like the domes at Nerezi. The central dome is
polygonal.
2.2.4. Italy
Scholars argued that these two Peloponnesian churches
significantly influenced the two five-domed Calabrian
churches: the church of San Marco at Rossano, and the
Catholica at Stilo.108Both churches are of a small size, both
are cross-in-square, and both exhibit cylindrical domes. It
is interesting to point out that drums of the side domes in
those two churches are equal in size to the central dome, a
characteristic not seen in any of the Byzantine monu
ments. Perhaps it is their small size - these two churches
are the smallest among the surviving five-domed monu
ments - that accounts for this anomaly. The two churches
have been dated differently, anywhere from the tenth to
twelfth centuries.109 It has been proposed by G. Capelli
that San Marco should be identified as the oratory of
the convent of St. Athanasia mentioned in the Vitae of
St. Neilos of Rossano.110The circumstances of the founda
tion of Stilo are unknown; the church, however, is dis
tinguished by refinement of execution. Four spoliate
columns, instead of the piers and brick masonry seen in
Rossano, support the central dome.111
2.3. Analysis of Middle Byzantine Five-Domed
Churches
Compared to the five domed churches discussed above,
Nerezi is a unique creation. Both its exterior and its interior
differ from other surviving five-domed Middle Byzantine
churches as can be seen in its plan, the shape of its drums,
and the means of support of its domes. However, this
uniqueness is not particular to Nerezi only. It seems that all
of the surviving Middle Byzantine five-domed churches dif
fer from each other in the composition of the plan, the
shape of the drums, and the means of support of the domes.
Concerning their planning, among the surviving monu
ments, Nerezi and Ani are the only examples of cruciform
churches. Chernigov is cross-domed, and the remaining
churches belong to different variants of the cross-in-square
type. Variation in their planning is further stressed by dif
ferent means of dome supports. For example, the central
dome is supported by full walls in Nerezi, by piers in Pantanassa, by columns in Stilo, and by an alteration of piers
and engaged columns in Pherrai. As far as the exterior shape
of their domes is concerned, Nerezi exhibits cubical side
108
109
110
111
112

Chapter II
domes; they are octagonal in Pherrai, and cylindrical in
Pantanassa, Tegea, and the Calabrian churches. Moreover,
while the majority of surviving monuments shows a great
difference in size between the central and side domes, Stilo
and Rossano display five domes of an equal size.
All these differences clearly indicate that it is impossible
to place the surviving five-domed churches into any kind
of categories as has been occasionally attempted by schol
ars.112 What can be perceived from the above analysis is
that affinities between the five-domed churches are most
ly of a regional character, as demonstrated by planning
and decoration of Peloponnesian and Calabrian examples.
If one disregards for a moment the five domes, the Pan
tanassa and Tegea display planning principles and building
materials and techniques characteristic of Peloponnesian
architecture, the two-column support of the central dome
of Pherrai finds many parallels on the Greek mainland, and
the compartmentalization of spaces at Nerezi, as mention
ed earlier, recalls earlier monuments in Macedonia.113
Thus, five-domed churches can not be viewed as a separate
phenomenon; rather, they are to be seen as a part of gen
eral development of Middle Byzantine architecture. This
becomes apparent when one examines features which
those churches have in common.
Despite many differences, the surviving Middle Byzan
tine five-domed churches all feature four domed compart
ments placed symmetrically around the cruciform core.
The addition of subsidiary chapels to the building core is a
process which took place in the Middle Byzantine period
and was an important characteristic of the architecture of
this period. These chapels exhibit a tendency to harmonize
with the principle cruciform structure and take a vital role
in the formal and structural modulation of the churches.114
The chapels also extend the liturgical space of the church,
allowing for more functions to be performed. When
domed, these chapels are further distinguished on both the
exterior and the interior of the church. In the interior, they
provide a space which, in terms of its meaning, recalls the
central portion of the church. Also, having a larger surface
than a simple vault, they provide more space for the
painted program. Concerning the exterior, four small sub
sidiary domes complement the central dome, adding vital
ity to the compositional aspects of the upper structure.
Another common feature of the Middle Byzantine fivedomed churches is a close correspondence between the in
terior and the exterior of the church. Domes distinguish
compartments of specific liturgical function both in the in
terior and the exterior of the church. The central dome
distinguishes the major space for the congregation and is,

For a discussion and bibliography, see Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 80), p. 212.
Ibid.
B. Capelli, Rossano bizantina minore, Archivo storico per la Calabria e la Lucania 24 (1955): 3 1-5 3 .
See . Bertaux, Lart dans l Italie mriodinale (Rome, 1978), Vol. 4, pp. 303-310.
For a thorough discussion about a variety of categories of five-domed churches established by scholars see Haditrifonos, Pristup tipologiji
petokupolnih crkava (see footnote 87), pp. 41 -76.
113 For Tegea and Pantanassa, see Orlandos, Palaiochristianika kai Byzantina mnmeia Tegeas-Nykliou (see footnote 87), pp. 141 -152; for Pherrai,
see Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 80), pp. 222-231.
114 uri, Architectural Significance of Subsidiary Chapels (see footnote 7), pp. 94-110.

Chapter II
except for the Calabrian churches, much larger than the
side domes. The eastern domes are commonly placed
above the pastophoria, functionally related to the Eucharistic services, while the western domes cap chapels that
were most likely used for funerary rites and the rites of
Baptism and the benediction of water.
A third aspect which is common to five-domed
churches of the Middle Byzantine period is the close prox
imity of the side domes and the central dome. Thus, as a
means of vaulting, they are related to the central space. In
the later monuments, as can be seen already at the Sardis
(Church E) and in the later Palaiologan monuments, such
as the Holy Apostles at Thessaloniki, or at Graanica,
domes cover compartments which are distant from the
central space.115 At the same time, the correspondence be
tween the interior and the exterior, which so emphatically
distinguishes Middle Byzantine monuments, is lost in later
architecture. Palaiologan churches witnessed an accretion
of spaces and their incorporation into a unified organism.
Side domes, placed at the extreme points of the church did
not, however, cover the pastophoria anymore.
Thus, instead of having a cluster of domes drawn tightly
against the central dome, as in the Middle Byzantine fivedomed churches, most of the Palaiologan monuments ex
hibit a carefully organized upper structure which lost its
correspondence with the interior, yet acquired a new com
positional quality. Compositional, rather than functional
aspects gained prominence.116This is carried to an extreme
in the later Russian monuments, such as the sixteenth-century Cathedral in Suzdal and St. Michaels in Moscow,
where domes became a decorative feature; they com
pletely lost communication with the organization of the
interior.117 A development from the dome as an architec
tural element which designated a chapel with a specific
function to a dome as a purely decorative feature is, in my
view, the major distinguishing feature of the development
of the five-domed churches.
The origin of the Middle Byzantine five-domed church
is somewhat difficult to determine. Prior to Middle By
zantine times, five-domed churches exhibited different
plans and different disposition of the side domes; they
were placed either on the arms of the cross, or along the

27
nave, as seen in the sixth-century churches of the Holy
Apostles in Constantinople, and of St. John at Ephesos.118
What brought about the shifting of the domes is difficult
to determine.119 However, the majority of scholars agree
that the ultimate model for the five-domed church in the
Middle Byzantine period was the Nea of Basil I.
That the Nea or any other five-domed Constantinopolitan church may have indeed served as a model for the
Middle Byzantine five-domed churches is possible. The
question is how and to what extent did these Constantinopolitan churches exercise their influence? On the one
hand, the Middle Byzantine five-domed churches share
several characteristic which indicate that they may have a
common source. They all exhibit four subsidiary domes
drawn tightly and somewhat clumsily to the central dome.
In addition, subsidiary domes are related to the central
space in terms of their vaulting. Moreover, domes cover
chapels of a particular liturgical function. The functional
aspect seems to be the major determining principle which
governs the organization of the domes; hence the corre
spondence between the interior and the exterior.
On the other hand, however, as seen in earlier discus
sion, surviving five domed monuments show different fea
tures concerning their planning and the shapes and sizes of
their domes. This variety makes it quite clear that those
features are not derived from the Nea or from any other
Constantinopolitan church, but from local traditions and
are thus a regional consequence. Thus, given the preserv
ed evidence, all we can assume is that it was most likely
the symbolic value of the five-domed churches - that is
their immediate association with the capital - rather than
exact structural features, that attracted provincial build
ers.
2.4. Symbolic Significance of Five-Domed Churches
A study of five-domed churches in Middle Byzantine
times provides a good test case for our understanding of
the phenomenon of the five-domed churches in Byzan
tium. Instead of seeing them as a separate entity, they
are to be considered as a generic part of the development
of Byzantine architecture. Hence, the typologies estab-

115 If Megaws hypothesis that the North Church of the Fenari Isa Camii had domes above the narthex is correct, than these later monuments would
have found a precedent in Constantinopolitan architecture. It should be noted, however, that even if Fenari Isa had domes, they were located over
the gallery chapels which, as far as the planning is concerned, differs considerably from the Palaiologan examples. For the question of galleries and
a discussion of the relationship between the domes and the vaulting of the churches, see Sinos, Die Kloserkirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 80),
pp.210-222. However, it should be noted that Sinos took cross-in-square monuments with vaulted side compartments as a part of the phenome
non of the development of the five-domed churches, a hypothesis which is difficult to accept.
116 The transition from the Middle Byzantine five-domed church to the Palaiologan is best seen in the church of Bogorodica Ljeviska. The side domes
in Bogorodica Ljeviska are placed in the corners between the arms of the cross, as was a practice in the Middle Byzantine monuments; the church,
however, is enveloped with ambulatory wings. See S. Nenadovi, Bogorodica Ljevika. Njen postanak i njeno mesto u arhitekturi Milutinovog
vremena (Belgrade, 1963), pp. 119-135.
117 For a discussion, see Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 80), p. 221.
118 See Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (see footnote 2), pp. 240-245.
119 The change of the disposition of domes is likely related to the shift of emphasis in planning, from the longitudinal to a centralized, cruciform, or
cross-in-square design in Middle Byzantine times. Thus, the genesis of the five-domed churches could be understood only if the origin and devel
opment of the cross-in-square church in Middle Byzantine times was fully explained. For some suggestions about this development, see R. P.
Bergman, Byzantine Influence and Private Patronage in a Newly Discovered Medieval Church in Amalfi: S. Michele Arcangelo in Pogerola,
JSAH 50/4 (Dec. 1991): 421-4 45 ; D. Lange, Theorien zur Entstelhung der byzantinischen Kreuzkuppelkirche, Architectura 16 (1986): 93-113
(with an extensive bibliography).

28
lished thus far fail. To put the Pantanassa, Mystra and
Nerezi in the same type just because both have domes
drawn in a tight cluster is unacceptable. Functionally,
these two churches answer different needs and compositionally imply different principles. Rather than that, we
must be aware that as far as the planning is concerned,
Justinianic, Middle Byzantine and Palaiologan fivedomed churches imply different principles, just like the
rest of the architecture from these respective periods.
Even within similar planning principles, a shift from the
dome as an iconographic element to its more decorative
application is an important development which separates
Middle Byzantine from the later five-domed churches.
Moreover, as apparent from the previous discussion, the
regionalism, so pronounced in Middle Byzantine time,
persists, and is even more prominent in Palaiologan than
in Middle Byzantine times.
One aspect of five-domed churches, however, likely re
mained throughout its history - recalling the capital even
when it was long gone. That can at least explain the per
sistence of this building type long after Byzantium dis
solved. The iconographic significance of five domes may
also explain their appearance at Nerezi. Despite many
imperfections in their structural aspects, the constellation
of five domes at Nerezi relates this small, provincially
located church to major imperial foundations of the cap
ital; in doing so, it also reveals intentions of the patron,
Alexios.

Summary
Alexios intention to relate Nerezi to major Constantinopolitan churches is also apparent - although in a more
subtle a manner - in many other architectural solutions at
Nerezi. In his study on the role of Constantinopolitan ar
chitecture, P. L. Vocotopoulos points out that the only
Constantinopolitan feature of Nerezi is its recessed-brick
technique.120The foregoing discussion, however, indicates
that Nerezi owes much more to the capital. The form of its
central dome, the composition of the facades, the decora
tive patterns, as well as the proportions of its interior, all
indicate strong impact from the capital. Moreover, al
though as has been pointed out, the segregation of the in
terior has a long tradition in Macedonia, in the case of
Nerezi it may not be solely a result of regional tendencies.
Some practical considerations, particularly a desire to ac
commodate as many paintings as possible, may account
for the erection of full walls between the naos and the wes

Chapter II
tern chapels. Considering the sloppy facades, they may
have been the work of poorly trained builders. Also, they
may reflect many restorations necessitated by earth
quakes. The use of mixed materials can also be explained as
a practical consideration, such as financial limitations,
since limestone was much more available than brick in that
region. After all, there is no way of proving that such
structures did not exist in the capital.
Thus, a close analysis of architectural principles em
ployed at Nerezi reveals a familiarity with Constantinop
olitan building practices. Whom Alexios commissioned to
execute his foundation is, however, a more complex ques
tion. Constantinopolitan impact, evident in the architec
tural features of Nerezi, is also seen in other eleventh- and
twelfth-century churches in the region. For example, the
plan and the recessed-brick technique of the church of
Panagia ton Chalkeon, Thessaloniki, the triple recessed
brick arches and two-story niches on the facades of the
church of the Virgin of Eleousa, Veljusa, and recessed
brick and broad interior of the church of the Transfigura
tion at Chortiatis, all testify to Constantinopolitan influ
ence in the region at the time. It is thus quite possible that
Alexios relied on local masters, who were familiar with, or
even trained in the workshops of the capital.
In sum, the analysis of the architecture of Nerezi indi
cates that rather than seeing the church as a poor recepta
cle for its painted program, we have to consider it as a
monument which expresses an assimilation of Constanti
nopolitan and local traditions. This assimilation is likely a
result of the political and cultural expansion of Byzantium
in that region during the eleventh and twelfth century. Al
though we do not know enough about Constantinopolitan
workshops in Macedonia and about the degree of their in
volvement, Nerezi and related monuments suggest that
highly skilled builders from the Capital worked and left
their impact in the region. Met by regional traditions and
probably financial constraints, they nonetheless trained
local artisans and produced works which unmistakably re
flect current tendencies of the Capital.
A distinct presence of Constantinopolitan features at
Nerezi also indicates that Alexios was capable of finding
masters - local and/or metropolitan - who were skilled
enough to erect an edifice which made his imperial con
nection as apparent architecturally as it was made literally,
in the wording of his dedicatory inscription. The extent to
which Alexios used his church as a statement of personal
prestige and as an expression of his loyalty to the imperial
clan is best seen in the painted decoration of Nerezi to
which we will now turn.

120 P. L. Vocotopoulos, The Role of Constantinopolitan Architecture During the Middle Byzantine and Late Byzantine Period, J B 31 (1981):
551-573.

CHAPTER III PAINTED DECORATION

INTRODUCTION
The sheer beauty, vibrancy, and elegance of the paintings at
Nerezi overwhelm the viewer (figs. VII - XIII). An expanse
of soothing blue background alters ones vision of reality,
while at the same time setting the stage for elegant, yet frag
ile and almost surreal figures, carefully orchestrated
through a linear play of white, pink, pastel green, ocher, and
purple. The elegant pictorial language transcends the do
main of aesthetic experience, enfolding the viewer in a pow
erful image of Christian identity. The participatory imme
diacy, emotional intensity, and persuasive imagery of the
Christological stories and holy images construct a space
that embraces the worshiper in a self-contained sphere of
Christian existence. It is this carefully conceived spatial
wedding of the power of ideological statement and the
power of beauty that overwhelms the viewer and worship
per alike and makes Nerezi both unique and intriguing.
The interior of Nerezi, as it appears today, is composed
of two distinct groups of paintings: the post-Byzantine cy
cle in the upper portions of the church, and the original,
twelfth-century paintings on the walls (pls. 8a, 8b). Due to
earthquakes of the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries
most of the upper areas of the church lost their original
decoration and were re-painted. Moreover, in 1884, the
preserved twelfth-century cycle, confined to the lower
portions of the church, was covered with new paintings,
apparently much inferior in their quality than the earlier
layers.1 Thus, until the late 1920s, the church was known
to us only for its post-Byzantine decoration. In 1926/27,
Nikolas Okunev, a Russian art historian who surveyed
Byzantine monuments in Macedonia, came across original
paintings by accidentally scratching the surface of the inte
rior wall.2 Subsequent restorations revealed large portions
of the twelfth-century cycle. Excited by the existence of
an early medieval layer of paintings, however, restorers
ignored the importance of the later paintings and simply
destroyed them. Thus, the post-Byzantine paintings of
Nerezi are preserved only in the upper sections of the
church. While harmonized with the original paintings in
their Christian content, the later paintings display differ
ent aesthetic values and a different ideological concept, and
will be discussed in the final chapter which examines
Nerezi after the twelfth century.
The original, twelfth-century paintings dominate the
church and are responsible for the impact of its interior. They
have been preserved, with minor losses, in all four subsidiary

chapels, and in the naos and the bema up to the level of the
springing point of the arches (pls. 8a - 27). Even the narthex
which, as mentioned in the previous chapter, was largely re
built, displays fragments of the original decoration on its
east, north and south walls (pls. 23-25; figs. LVIII-LXIV).
While too damaged for the purposes of stylistic analysis, the
decoration of the narthex is sufficiently preserved to indicate
the programmatic solutions of the cycle.
The twelfth-century frescoes are distinguished as ex
quisite examples of Komnenian art, attributed to Constan
tinopolitan masters, and mentioned as such in almost
every book on Byzantine art.3 Moreover, since no painted
cycle from the middle of the twelfth century has been pre
served in the capital, Nerezi assumes an important role in
our understanding of twelfth-century Byzantine painting
in general. On the most basic level, the painted program at
Nerezi follows the pattern of decoration traditionally used
in cross-in-square and cruciform churches of the Middle
Byzantine period (figs. VII-XII). The scenes at Nerezi ex
hibit hierarchical arrangement in zones and correspond to
architectural units. Thus, the liturgical scenes are placed in
the bema, the cycle of the life of Christ and the images of
saints are depicted in the naos, and the scenes from the life
of the patron saint occupy the narthex. Also traditional at
Nerezi is the vertical hierarchy. The image of Christ (re
painted in the sixteenth century) occupies the central
cupola; the scenes of the life of Christ are placed in the up
per zone of the walls; and the lower zone of the walls dis
plays the images of saints (figs. VII-IX).
Within these regularities, however, Nerezi displays new
iconographic and stylistic solutions evident both within
individual scenes and images and in their arrangement.
One of the most distinguished characteristics of the
painted decoration is its relationship with the architecture.
The painted cycle at Nerezi violates spatial divisions of ar
chitectural components and constructs a programmati
cally unified pictorial space. The dominance of the painted
decoration over the architectural divisions is particularly
evident in the strong programmatic relationship between
the naos and eastern chapels and the narthex and western
chapels. Although clearly separated by full walls, these ar
chitectural units at Nerezi are united in their common
iconography. The decision to impose pictorial over archi
tectural space is confirmed by the closure of the three-light
windows in the naos and the lunette above the main en
trance of the church discussed in the previous chapter.
While not uncommon in Byzantine churches, a decision to

1 See F. Mesesnel, Kako da se sauva i obnovi crkva Sv. Pantelejmona iz 12. veka kod sela Nerezi?, GSND 2 (1929): 299-304.
2 N. Okunev, La dcouverte des anciennes fresques du monastre de Nrz et leur date, Slavia (1927): 603-609.
3 Their fame is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that Nerezi is included in one of the most popular surveys on Renaissance art, F. Hartt, History
of Italian Renaissance: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, 4th ed. (New York, 1994), p. 46.

Chapter III

30
transform the architectural space of the interior is particu
larly carefully and coherently developed in Nerezi.
The thematic unity of the program is further emphasized
through the spatial relationship established between scenes
and images. Instead of giving a sequential presentation of
ideas successively developed along the walls, the painters at
Nerezi communicated their major messages in space. They
did so through a series of paired images and scenes which
echo each other across the facing walls. The impact of mes
sages communicated in space is further enhanced by a vir
tual absence of any decorative elaboration. While a wide
range of psychologically suggestive figures dominates the
space, the ornament is significantly underplayed, and by
and large reduced to several pieces of painted textile.4
Nothing obscures the impact of the juxtaposed images and
scenes. Facing each other across the naos, the scenes and
images enclose the entire space of the church and create an
environment which embraces and immerses the beholder
both spiritually and emotionally. Thus the thematically
unified program is also participatory in its character.
Both stylistic and iconographic conventions are effec
tively combined to underscore the unified messages of the
cycle, focused on traditional Christian stories while at the
same time addressing contemporary Byzantine reality.
Flat and outlined in thick and colored lines, yet wrapped
in agitated, colorful draperies, the figures vibrate before
the eyes of the beholder, familiar in their realistic, human
appearance, yet distant in their anatomical inaccuracies
and abstract, elongated proportions (figs. X -X I). Their
individual treatment and often emotionally charged ex
pressions and gestures appeal to beholders, inviting their
awe, inspiring their faith, and promising a path for their
salvation. Visually conceived dogmatic messages also pro
vide an important insight into the historical circumstances
which surrounded the execution of the church, and in the
ideological considerations of the patron who most likely
designed the program. This carefully designed parallelism
of the constant and the ephemeral - that is of dogmatic and
political - distinguishes the cycle at Nerezi and is most
overtly expressed in the program of the bema.

BEMA
1. Program: General Observations
The bema at Nerezi follows the traditional iconographic
formula established in the post-iconoclastic period. The

timeless image of the Virgin and Child occupies the


conch of the apse, the middle zone of the apse and the
walls of the bema display the Communion of the Apos
tles, while the images of bishops decorate the lowest zone
of the sanctuary (pls.8a, 8b, 9-11; fig.XIII).5 Within
these conventions, however, Nerezis painters developed
a sophisticated program, liturgical in its content, parti
cipatory in its character, and political in its message. Both
stylistic and iconographic means were used to achieve
this goal. The most distinguished and innovative features
of the program are the processional representation of
apostles that expands along the lateral walls, the inclu
sion of the Kiss of the Apostles within the scene of the
Communion, and the rendition of a liturgically potent
scene of eight bishops who officiate before the Hetoimasia (figs. XIII, XV, XIX; 17-25). All these novelties re
flect current social and ecclesiastical events and thus iden
tify the patron of Nerezi as an active participant in these
events.
The twelfth-century painted program of the bema
has suffered some losses. The scenes depicted in the
vault, five apostles from the Communion, as well as the
image of the Virgin in the conch were re-painted in
the sixteenth-century (pls. 8a, 8b). While the scenes and
images in the vault significantly depart from the twelfthcentury programmatic and stylistic norm and will be
treated in the separate chapter, the sixteenth-century
artists made a considerable effort to recreate the origi
nal, twelfth-century program of the conch and the walls
of the bema. The image of the Virgin with Christ Child,
a potent symbol of Incarnation, was regularly depicted
in the apse since iconoclasm, and it is quite certain that
it occupied the same position at Nerezi. Whether
the sixteenth-century Platytera, currently displayed in
the church, mimics the original twelfth-century icono
graphic type of the Virgin is, however, impossible to say
(figs. XV; 13).6

2. The Communion of the Apostles


The intent to preserve the original programmatic solution
is even more emphatically stated in the sixteenth-century
restoration of the apostles in the Communion scene.
The sixteenth-century apostles are distinguished not only
by the style of their execution, but also by being placed
somewhat higher than the original apostles; the frag
ments of the lower robes of the twelfth-century apostles

4 Small sections of ornamented surfaces also frame the windows and distinguish the subsidiary domes; yet they are discreet and reduced to a well es
tablished vocabulary of stylized palmettes, rinceau, and acanthus leaves. Only the stucco frame of the icon of St. Panteleimon is richly ornamented
and prominent within the church; it will be discussed separately in the chapter on sculpture.
5 For the study on the system of Middle Byzantine decoration, see O. Demus, Byzantine Mosaic Decoration (New York, 1976), especially pp. 3-4 3 .
Many of his views were, however, questioned by T. Mathews, The Sequel to Nicea II in Byzantine Church Decoration, Perkins Journal of Theol
ogy 41/3 (1988): ll -2 1 ; reprinted in Art and Architecture in Byzantium and Armenia. Liturgical and Exegetical Approach (Variorum, 1995), No. 12;
and E. Kitzinger, Reflections of the Feast Cycle in Byzantine A rt, CA 36 (1988): 51 -73.
6 If the twelfth-century Virgin was indeed the Platytera, it would have been one of the earliest known examples in surviving monumental art after the
church of Panagia Theotokos at Trikomo. For the development and significance of this type of the Virgin, see A. W. Carr, The Thirteenth-Century
Murals of Lysi, Cyprus, in: A. W. Carr and L. J. Morrocco, A Byzantine Masterpiece Recovered, the Thirteenth-Century Murals of Lysi, Cyprus
(Austin, 1991), pp. 4 3-48, fig. 15.

Chapter III
remain beneath the sixteenth-century figures (pls. 10, ll;
fig. 16)7
Wearing their traditional chitons and himations, apos
tles approach the central table of the Communion in two
processional files rendered on the north and south walls of
the bema respectively. St. Peter (north) and St. Paul (south)
lead the procession and receive Eucharistic bread and wine
from Christ, who is depicted twice as performing his
priestly duty (pl. 9; figs. XVI-XVIII; 14, 15).8 Christ is
assisted by four angel-deacons,9 two placed at his side,
and two flanking the ciborium which rises above the
central altar, covered with a richly ornamented cloth
(figs. XVI- XVIII).10 The altar displays liturgical vessels,
two patens with blessed bread and a chalice. The apostles
are inclined, stepping towards the central altar in a proces
sional motion. The processional approach of the apostles is
interrupted only by candelabra represented on the recesses
of the walls, and by the embrace and the kiss exchanged by
St. Andrew and St. Luke on the north wall (pl. 9; figs. XIII,
XV - XIX; 16).
2.1. Symbolic and Liturgical Significance of the Scene
The rendition of the Communion of the Apostles is based
on the biblical account about the Last Supper which Christ
had with his apostles.11 It symbolizes both the sacrifice of
Christ and the union with Christ achieved through faith.

31
The experiential character of the event was visualized
through ceremonial iconography which mimicked actual
liturgical actions performed by the clergy and faithful.
Since its earliest visual representations in the manuscripts
and sumptuary objects of the Early Christian period, the
scene of the Communion displayed apostles, either in
groups or in procession, as receiving the Eucharist from
Christ; hence it clearly alludes to the manner in which the
actual rite is performed in the church.12 The inclusion of
the scene in the program of the bema coincided with the
establishment of the Eucharist as the central doctrine of
the Orthodox church following the iconoclastic contro
versy.13The representation of the Communion in the bema
was a consequence of the intense effort to structure the
program of the bema as a reflection of contemporary litur
gy. The iconography and style of the bema at Nerezi made
a significant contribution to that process.
The emphasis on the liturgical character of the Commu
nion at Nerezi is evident in many iconographic novelties
and stylistic peculiarities. To begin with, the procession of
apostles expands along the entire length of the lateral walls
of the bema (pis. 9-11; fig. XIII). This unusual arrange
ment was most likely intended to harmonize the proces
sion of apostles with the file of officiating bishops ren
dered below. Thus, both thematic and formal links
between the biblical event - the Last Supper represented as
the Communion - and the actual rite which celebrates it -

7 It is, however, quite obvious that the sixteenth-century artist disregarded iconographic accuracy, since the tonsure, facial type, and incipient beard of
the sixteenth-century apostle on the north wall identify him as St. Luke, who was already present in the original, twelfth-century portion of the scene,
as exchanging the embrace with St. Andrew.
8 The remaining twelfth-century apostles are not inscribed, yet can be identified on the basis on their physiognomies which were well established at
the time. For the facial types of apostles, see O. Demus, The Mosaics of San Marco in Venice, 2 Vols. (Chicago, 1984), Vol. 2, pp. 8-10, pls. 3, la, 3 -1 1.
St. Peter, dressed in purple chiton with white clavus, and an ocher himation shaded with olive-green is followed by St. Matthew who wears a blue
chiton and white himation highlighted with pink lines, and shaded with mauve. Only the feet of the original image of the third apostle have remained.
The next two apostles on the north wall are St. Andrew, wearing a green himation and an ocher chiton streaked with gray-blue and white; and St.
Luke, dressed in a cherry-red chiton and a white himation shaded with red and blue. The last apostle on the north wall is young, resembling the fea
tures of either St. Philip or St. Thomas. He is dressed in a white chiton streaked with bluish-green lines and patches, and a red himation outlined in
white. Upper portions of his back, fragments of his forehead, and his hands are obliterated. St. Paul, who leads the procession of apostles on the south
wall, is dressed in white robes streaked with different shades of blue. He is followed by St. John, dressed in a dark-blue chiton and a white himation
shaded with murky gray; a fragment of his himation at the back is damaged. The three subsequent apostles were re-painted in the sixteenth century;
only the lower portions of their robes are remaining. The last apostle on the south wall is young, either St. Philip or St. Thomas, and he is wearing a
purple chiton and a white himation.
9 The angels standing behind the altar are shown as half figures, holding liturgical fans and wearing a dark mauve robe under a white sticharion; traces
of the orarion are still visible on their left arms. The angels assisting Christ are shown full length, their bodies mostly obscured by Sts. Peter and Paul;
they are wearing white sticharia. To the north of the altar, the facial features of the angel assisting Christ are mostly obliterated, and the crack in the
wall running across the scene as a sinuous wide line from the three-light window up to the image of the Virgin partially damaged the wings of the
angel holding the liturgical fan.
10 The altar is covered with a richly ornamented purple cloth decorated with blue medallions composed of concentric circles, displaying palmettes and
fleurs-de-lis in the wide bands, and small circles in the narrow ones. The spherical areas between the circles are also filled with stylized composite
flowers. Medallions encircling floral ornaments were frequently used as ornamental patterns on textiles during the twelfth century, as seen from their
appearance, for example, on the textiles in the churches of St. George in Kurbinovo, Sts. Anargyroi in Kastoria, and the Holy Apostles at Perachorio.
See L. Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo. Les fresques de Saint-Georges et lapeinture byzantine du XIIe sicle (Brussels, 1975), pp. 3 12-313; figs. 29,
105, 108, 112,126, and 146; S. Pelekanidis and M. Chatzidakis, Kastoria (Athens, 1985), p. 37, figs. 12, 19; and A. H. S. Megaw and E. J. W. Hawkins,
The Church of the Holy Apostles at Perachorio, Cyprus, and Its Frescoes, DOP 16 (1962), fig. 42.
11 Mt. 26, 2 0 -3 0 ; Mk. 14, 17-26; Lk. 22, 14 -3 9; and I Cor. ll, 23-26.
12 The earliest representations of the Communion are found already in sixth-century sumptuary objects and manuscripts, such as the Rossano Gospels,
fols. 2v, 3r; the Rabula Gospels, fol. llv ; and the patens from Stuma and Riha. For Rossano Gospels, see Codex Purpureus Rossanensis (Graz, 1985),
at folio number. For Rabula Gospels, see C. Cecchelli et al., The Rabula Gospels: Facsimile Edition of the Miniatures of the Syriac Manuscript Plut.
I, 56 in the Medicaean-Laurentian Library (Lausanne, 1959) at folio number. For the patens, see V. H. Elbern, Altar Implements and Liturgical Ob
jects, in: Age of Spirituality. Late Antique and Early Christian Art: Third to Seventh Century, ed. by K. Weitzmann (Princeton, 1979), pp. 611-612.
13 For the development of the Eucharistic liturgy and the inclusion of the scene of the Communion in the bema, see C. Walter, Art and Ritual of the
Byzantine Church (London, 1982), pp. 188-189; and S. Gerstel, Beholding the Sacred Mysteries: Programs of the Byzantine Sanctuary (Seattle, Wash.,
1999).

32
the Eucharistic liturgy represented through the officiating
bishops - was established.
Another motif which heightens the liturgical content of
the Communion is the multiplication of angels. In addi
tion to two angel-deacons, standing behind the altar and
holding liturgical fans, as was customary in the twelfth
century, the painter at Nerezi depicted two more angels
standing beside Christ and assisting him in his ministry
(figs. XVI-XVIII).14 The liturgical function of the dea
cons at Nerezi may also be suggested by a rather unusual
portrayal of the paten and chalice twice: once in the center
of the table, where the angels are officiating above it with
liturgical fans, and the second time as administered by
Christ with the help of the angels. The presence of angeldeacons reflects the actual ceremony, in which deacons
both keep the Eucharistic gifts and assist the priest. Also
adding to the ceremonial character of the scene is the in
clusion of candelabra. They too reflect liturgical practice,
since candelabra may be associated with the idea of divine
light and are placed on both sides of the sanctuary during
the liturgical rite.
2.2. The Kiss of the Apostles
Most strikingly adding to the liturgical character of the
scene is the Kiss of the Apostles (pi. 10; fig. XIX). Accord
ing to surviving evidence, the Kiss of the Apostles in the
scene of the Communion appears for the first time at
Nerezi. Peculiarly enough, the kiss has survived in only a
few later, thirteenth-century monuments: the church of
St. John the Theologian at Veroia, the church of St. Con
stantine in Svekani, the church of St. Nicholas at Manastir,
and probably in the church of St. John at Kaneo, Ohrid, all
of which are located in Macedonia.15

Chapter III
The Kiss of the Apostles at Nerezi most likely repre
sents the Kiss of Peace, an ancient ritual which originally
symbolized fraternal love of the participants in Christian
service.16 In the liturgy of the Orthodox Church, the Kiss
of Peace is exchanged among the clergy at the end of the
Offertory prayer when the priest turns towards the con
gregation and says Peace unto all, to which the faithful
respond And unto thy spirit. Subsequently, the deacon
proclaims, Let us love one another that with one mind we
may confess, and it is the moment when the clergy ex
changes the Kiss.17 In the twelfth century, the Trinitarian
Confession, The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Trinity consubstantial and undivided, recited by the choir
in response to the deacons words, was most likely in
cluded in the liturgy, immediately before the exchange of
the Kiss.18Thus, in addition to symbolizing fraternal love,
the Kiss also introduced the recollection of the consub
stantial and divine nature of the Holy Trinity, a notion
which carries particular significance within the program of
Nerezi, as will be discussed later.
While the representation of the Kiss of the Apostles
is new within the context of the scene of the Commu
nion, the kissing gesture has a long tradition in medieval
art and was likely familiar to the contemporary beholder.
Be it in a political context, such as the representation of
the embrace of emperors during the Tetrarchic period, or
in a religious context, such as the embrace of Joachim and
Anna or of Mary and Elizabeth, the embrace symbolizes
unity, peace, and harmony.19 Among the apostles, the
representation of the embrace is commonly associated
with Sts. Peter and Paul. Although it was first introduced
in the West, the examples of Byzantine renditions indi
cate that it was an image well known to Byzantine
artists.20

14 Two angel-deacons are seen, for example, in St. Sophia, Kiev, and regularly depicted in twelfth-century monuments, such as in the Ossuary Church
in Bakovo, in Holy Apostles in Perachorio, and in Archangel Michael in Kiev. For Kievan churches, see V. Lazarev, Old Russian Murals and Mosaics:
from the X I to the XVI Centuries (London, 1966), pp. 3 8 -4 1 , 68; for Backovo, see E. Bakalova, Bachkovskata Kostnica (Sofia, 1977), pp. 76-77; for
Perachorio, see Megaw and Hawkins, Holy Apostles at Perachorio (see footnote 10), figs. 21 -25.
15 For Veroia, see M. Mchailidis, Les peintures murales de lglise de Saint-Jean le Thologien Vria, in: XVe congrs, p. 487, figs. 19, 20, 22.
For Manastir, see P. Miljkovi-Pepek and D. Koco, Manastir (Skopje, 1958), pp.4 8 -5 1 , table XIV; for Svekani and Kaneo, see P. Miljkovi-Pepek,
Crkvata Sv. Konstantin od selo Svekani, in: Simpozium 1100. godinina od smrtata na K iril Solunski (Skopje, 1970), Vol. 1, pp. 149-162.
16 During the actual liturgical rite in the twelfth century, the clergy exchanged the Kiss twice: before the anaphora - the Kiss of peace - and at the mo
ment when the priest receives the Communion - the aspasmos. Both rituals were most likely performed at the time Nerezi was decorated. The rep
resentation of the Kiss thus comforted the beholder with another pictorial representation of the actual liturgical action, while at the same time em
phasizing the reality of the ritual performed in the church.
S. E. J. Gerstel, Apostolic Embraces in Communion Scenes of Byzantine Macedonia, CA 44 (1996): 144-146, argues that the Kiss of the Apostles
at Nerezi represents the aspasmos of the clergy, and explains it as a sign of anti-Latin sentiments. Her claim, however does not relate either to the
historical circumstances surrounding the decoration of the church, or to the meaning of the motif within the context of the iconographic message of
Nerezis decoration.
17 In earlier forms of celebration, the entire congregation would exchange the Kiss, too. However, some sources suggest that it became limited to clergy
only by the end of the eleventh century. See R. F. Taft, The Great Entrance. A History of the Transfer of Gifts and Other Pre-Anaphoral Rites of the
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Rome, 1978), pp. 395-396.
18 Ibid., pp. 374-396.
19 The representation of the embracing apostles originated in the early Christian apocryphal account of the meeting of the two apostles in Rome. See
H. L. Kessler, The Meeting of Peter and Paul in Rome. An Emblematic Narrative of Spiritual Brotherhood, DOP 41 (1987): 267.
20 For the Kiss of the Apostles in Byzantium see M. Constantoudaki-Kitromilides, Concordia Apostolorum: The Embrace of Saints Peter and Paul,
A Paleologan Icon in Bologna, in: Byzantium. Identity, Image, Influence (XIX International Congress of Byzantine Studies, Copenhagen, 1996),
No. 5213; M. Vassilaki, A Cretan Icon in the Ashmolean: The Embrace of Peter and Paul, J B 40 (1990): 405-422; and K. Kreidl-Papadopoulos,
Die Ikone mit Petrus und Paulus in Wien. Neue Aspekte zur Entwicklung dieser Rundkomposition, Deltion 10 (1980-1981): 344-356.

33

Chapter III
2.2.1. The Kiss o f Sts. P eter and Paul
The Kiss of Sts. Peter and Paul acquired different meaning
depending on the context in which it was represented.21
When detached from the narrative, the image acquired poli
tical potency, denoting the importance of the fraternal recon
ciliation and Ecumenical unity of the Christian Church.22
In Byzantium, following the Schism of 1054, the image of
the embracing apostles was seemingly understood in a broa
der context, as a symbol of brotherly love and union of the
leaders of the Eastern and Western churches.23 This mean
ing may have been implied in the image of the embracing
apostles in the twelfth-century Psalter in Athens (Athens,
National Library, Cod. 7, fol. 2r), which most likely refers
to Psalm 132 (133): How good and how pleasant it is for
brethern to dwell in unity; the same meaning has been as
signed to a number of the late fourteen- and fifteenth-cen
tury icons.24 In all these instances, the image reflects the in
tensified interest of the members of the Byzantine church
in achieving union with the Latin West.25
2.2.2. The M eaning o f the Kiss at N erezi
The pro-uniate tendencies are likely implied in the image of
the embracing apostles at Nerezi, as suggested by the histo
rical circumstances, and by the close ties which existed be
tween the emperor Manuel I and the patron of Nerezi. As
demonstrated by scholars, Manuel I had a huge political am
bition to become the new Roman Emperor, assuming power
over both Byzantium and the Latin West.26A path to his suc
cess required, as an important pre-requisite, the union of the
two churches, which he attempted at several instances and in
many negotiations with both Western emperors and popes.27
His wish to bridge the gap between the two ecclesiastical
traditions opened him considerably to Western theological

concepts. It is well known that, as of the early sixties, his ad


visor on matters of faith was a Westerner, Hugo Etherien
from Pisa.28Moreover, it was the impact of Western theolog
ical concepts, and Manuels eagerness to accept them, which
led to heated debates and culminated in the Church Council
held in his palace in Constantinople in 1166.29The patron of
Nerezi, Alexios, supported his cousin, the emperor, and was
present at that Council, as mentioned earlier.30The inclusion
of the Kiss at Nerezi might thus represent one of many as
pects of the close cooperation between the two Komnenian
cousins, evident in other aspects of the decoration of Nerezi
as will be shown later in this chapter.
Although the embracing apostles at Nerezi are St. Andrew
and St. Luke, their portrayal is strikingly similar to images of
the embrace of Sts. Peter and Paul.31 The rushing step, inter
twined arms, and the closeness of faces of Sts. Andrew and
Luke closely resemble the iconographic formula of the em
brace of apostolic princes.32 Further correspondence is seen
in the physiognomies of the apostles. Like St. Peter, St. An
drew features white hair and beard, while St. Luke assumes
the characteristics of St. Paul, by being slightly taller than the
other apostle and by having dark brown hair and beard (al
though his hairline is not receding). It is apparent that the
painters at Nerezi intentionally used the pre-existing icono
graphic formula of the embrace of Sts. Peter and Paul to suit
their own needs. Thus, the symbolic meaning of the em
brace, the notion of brotherly reconciliation and the need for
Ecumenical unity, were communicated through the familiar
iconography, despite the identity switch.
2.2.3. The C hoice o f St. Luke and St. A ndrew
The switch of the apostles at Nerezi may have been dic
tated by the iconography of the Communion which
invariably required the presence of St. Peter by the altar.33

21 In the West, the scene is commonly found in a narrative context, relating the lives of the two apostles. See Kessler, The Meeting of Peter and Paul
in Rome (see footnote 19), pp. 265-275.
22 The notion of Ecumenical unity is also emphasized in liturgical sources, in the Troparion read on the feast of the Apostles on June 29.
23 Constantoudaki-Kitromilides, Concordia Apostolorum (see footnote 20), N o.5213; Vassilaki, Cretan Icon (see footnote 20), pp.408-409,
416-420; and Kreidl-Papadopoulos, Die Ikone mit Petrus und Paulus, pp. 346-356.
24 For the image in the Psalter, see A. Cutler, The Aristocratic Psalters in Byzantium (Paris, 1984), fig. 3; for the meaning of the image, see Constantoudaki-Kitromilides, Concordia Apostolorum (see footnote 20), No. 5213.
25 See Constantoudaki-Kitromilides, Concordia Apostolorum (see footnote 20), No. 5213; and Vassilaki, Cretan Icon (see footnote 20), pp. 416-420.
26 For a comprehensive study and bibliography on Manuels political ambitions, see P. Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (Cambridge,
1993), pp. 27-109.
27 Ibid.
28 Manuels ambition to bridge the gap between Orthodox East and Latin West becomes quite apparent when one considers that one of the tasks he as
signed to Hugo was to defend the Latin position on the Filioque question by using writings of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. See M. V.
Anastasos, Some Aspects of Byzantine Influence on Latin Thought, in: Twelfth-Century Europe and the Foundations of Modern Society (Proceed
ings of a Symposium, Madison, WI, 1957), pp. 131-189; A. Dondaine, Hugues thrien et Lon Toscan, Archives dhistoire doctrinale et litteraire du
moyen ge 19 (1952): 67-134; and Idem, Hugues thrien et le concile de Constantinople de 1166, Historisches Jahrbuch 77 (1958): 473-483.
29 For a discussion on the emperors approval of Western theological concepts and his forceful implementation of these concepts, see Dondaine,
Hugues thrien et le concile de Constantinople de 1166 (see footnote 28), pp. 473-483; P. Classen, Das Konzil von Konstantinopel 1166 und die
Lateiner, BZ 48 (1955): 339-368; C. Mango, The Concilar Edict of 1166, DOP 17 (1963): 317-330.
30 See Chapter I, pp. 8 -9 .
31 That has been mentioned, although briefly, by R. Hamann-Mac Lean, Grundlegung zu einer Geschichte der mittelalterlichen Monumentalmalerei in
Serhien und Makedonien (Giessen, 1976), p. 264.
32 A close parallel is seen if one compares, for example, other twelfth-century representations of the Kiss of the Apostles, such as in Monreale (E.
Kitzinger, The Mosaics of Monreale [Palermo, 1960], pl. 80); the Capella Palatina, Palermo (O. Demus, The Mosaics of Norman Sicily [London, 1949],
fig. 43 a); and the above mentioned Psalter from the National Library in Athens (see footnote 24).
33 St. Paul was also commonly represented; yet he was sometimes replaced by St. John, as in the churches of the Panagia Phorbiotissa at Asinou and in
the Holy Apostles at Perachorio. For Asinou, see M. Sacopoulo, Asinou en 1106 et sa contribution a l'iconographie (Brussels, 1966), pl.XXd; for
Perachorio, see Megaw and Hawkins, Holy Apostles at Perachorio (see footnote 10), fig. 24.

Chapter III

34
However, the choice of St. Luke and particularly St. An
drew was not incidental.34The apostles were related to Sts.
Peter and Paul, and they held special significance both for
Byzantium and, more significantly for the region of Mace
donia. St. Andrew was the older brother of St. Peter, and
St. Luke, along with St. Linus and St. Timothy, accompa
nied St. Paul in Rome as his secretary. Moreover, both
St. Andrew and St. Luke were held in high regard in
Byzantium, because their relics were brought to the
Byzantine capital, Constantinople, and kept in the church
of the Holy Apostles. Above all, Byzantines were firm in
their belief that the apostolic see of Constantinople was
founded by St. Andrew, a fact which significantly influ
enced the growth of St. Andrews legend in Byzantium.35
Although the legend of St. Andrew lost its popularity in
Byzantium as a whole by the time of Manuel I, the cult of
the apostle held special significance and remained popular
in Macedonia. Apostle Andrew was believed to have been
a missionary in Macedonia where he spent a considerable
amount of time traveling and preaching.36 St. Andrews
activity in and associations with Macedonia figured very
prominently in the ecclesiastical politics of the region.
They provided the basis and served as a potent argument
in the attempt of the clergy of Ohrid to claim the apostolic
character and autocephalous status of their church since
the time of Tzar Samuel (976-1014).37
Once incorporated in the idea of national integrity, the
cult of St. Andrew became connected with the concept of
religious and national independence and pride. As such, it
remained popular in Macedonia throughout Byzantine
rule. The importance of the cult of St. Andrew in Macedo
nia is seen in many aspects of the cultural tradition of
the region. A church dedicated to St. Andrew was built
at Peristerai, near Thessaloniki in 870/871.38 In c. 900,
St. Naum, a brother of St. Clement, and a translator of the
Bible from Greek to Old Church Slavonic, wrote a special
Kanon dedicated to the apostle Andrew.39 Moreover, St.
Andrew was given a special prominence in art of the re
gion. For example, he is represented along with another

unidentified, dark-haired apostle, in the lunette of the west


facade of the cathedral church of St. Sophia in Ohrid prob
ably at the time of the archbishop Leo (1040-45);40 his
portrait is both unusual and distinguished in the scene of
the Ascension in the church of St. George in Kurbinovo,
where he is shown holding a cross, as a missionary;41 and
most interestingly, in the church of the Virgin Peribleptos
in Ohrid (1295), St. Andrew is shown next to St. Peter, the
founders of the two prominent apostolic sees facing the
representatives of the Ohrid autocephalous church, St.
Clement of Ohrid and archbishop St. Constantine Cabasilas.42
Thus the prominent position given to St. Andrew within
the scene of the Communion at Nerezi is by no means sur
prising and can be explained through the popularity of the
cult of the apostle and his important function in the eccle
siastical politics of the region of Macedonia. The choice of
St. Luke could also be related to local cult. In addition to
his close association with St. Paul, according to some
legends St. Luke was also believed to have been born in
Macedonia.43 He is probably the unidentified apostle fac
ing St. Andrew in the lunette of the west facade of St.
Sophia in Ohrid.44 St. Luke is also chosen as a pair to St.
Andrew in the representation of the Kiss of Apostles in the
scene of the Communion, in the church of St. John the
Theologian, in Veroia. In the broader picture, it should be
noted that Luke (Chrysoberg ) was also the name of the
current patriarch of Constantinople (1157-1170) who sup
ported the emperor in his pro-Western orientation. While
the connection between the choice of St. Luke at Nerezi
and the current Constantinopolitan patriarch is impossible
to prove, the play with the pun of the name was very pop
ular during the reign of the Komnenian rulers.
2.2.4. Political Im plications
The inclusion of the Kiss of the Apostles in the scene of the
Communion may be thus understood as a very clever po
litical maneuver. The idea of the union of Eastern and

34 The representation of the embrace of Sts. Andrew and Luke at Nerezi is the earliest surviving visual example of the idea of brotherly love expressed
through a different choice of apostles. Literary evidence, however, suggests that the practice of switching apostles to represent the same idea existed
in earlier periods, too. For example, the ninth-century Constantinopolitan patriarch, Photius, used the metaphor of the brotherly love of St. Peter,
the founder of the Roman See, and St. Andrew, the founder the Constantinopolitan See, in his attempts to emphasize the importance of union and
good understanding between Eastern and Western churches during the short period of reconciliation around 880. See F. Dvornik, The Idea of
Apostolicity in Byzantium (Cambridge, Mass., 1958), p. 233.
35 According to Byzantine sources, St. Andrew was often seen as equal to the prince of apostles, St. Peter, since Peter founded Rome, and Andrew foun
ded the apostolic see in the Byzantine capital, Constantinople. The life of St. Andrew was included in the Synaxaria since the 10th century, and the
story of his life is included in the Menologion of Basil I. For the importance of St. Andrew in Byzantium see Dvornik, The Idea of Apostolicity in
Byzantium (see footnote 34).
36 For the popularity of the cult of St. Andrew in Macedonia, see P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Najstarite svetitelski kultovi vo Makedonija, temeli za
samostojnata Samoilova crkva i avtokefalnost na Ohridskata arhiepiskopija, Zbornik. Muzej na Makedonija 1 (1993): 11-35.
37 Ibid., p. 28.
38 See A. K. Orlandos, To katholikon ts para tn Thessalonikn mons Peristern, ABME 7 (1951): 146-167; and C. Mauropoulou-Tsiume and
A. Kuntura, Ho naos tou hagiou Andrea stn Peristera, Klronomia 13 (1981): 487-507.
39 Miljkovi-Pepek, Najstarite svetitelski kultovi (see footnote 36), p. 28.
40 Ibid., pp. 28-29.
41 Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (see footnote 10), p. 167; fig. 82.
42 P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Deloto na zografite Mihailo i Eutihij (Skopje, 1966), pp. 2 8-30.
43 Dvornik, The Idea of Apostolicity in Byzantium (see footnote 34), p. 215.
44 It is at least suggested by the description of the apostle and a drawing in Miljkovi-Pepek, Najstarite svetitelski kultovi (see footnote 36), p. 28,
fig. 10, pl. 9.

Chapter III
Western churches, as seen by Manuel I, was based on
tolerance, particularly related to the frequently disputed
difference in Eucharistic rituals. By including the Embrace
of the Apostles, the symbol of Ecumenical unity, in the
rendition of one of the most debated rituals, the patron
of Nerezi clearly suggested the possibility of harmonious
existence of the two churches despite the ideological
differences in their respective liturgical practices.
The Kiss of the Apostles at Nerezi, however, also re
flects the ability of Byzantine patrons to manipulate the
popularity of local cults in order to promulgate the ideol
ogy of the capital. The Kiss of the Apostles within the
scene of the Communion is an extremely potent image,
participatory in its character and polyvalent in its meaning.
On one level, it represents the actual liturgical action,
familiar to the beholder from contemporary practice. The
gestures, postures, and physical appearances of the
apostles, however, recall the features of the renditions
of the embrace of Sts. Peter and Paul, the symbol of
brotherly reconciliation and Ecumenical unity reiterated
in the liturgical readings, and most likely also familiar
to the beholder. The choice of Sts. Andrew and Luke, the
apostles dear and popular to the local audience was likely
intended to make the idea of ecclesiastical unity more
agreeable. While pro-uniate tendencies were popular in
the imperial circles, they were much less agreeable to the
general populace frightened by Crusader missions.
The Kiss of the Apostles within the scene of the Com
munion survives in only four churches, all of which are lo
cated in close proximity to one another in the region of
Macedonia. The church at Veroia, decorated only half a
century after Nerezi, reflects its direct influence. Although
the two later monuments, the church of St. Constantine in
the village of Svekani, and the church of St. Nicholas at
Manastir exhibit a different choice of apostles who are em
bracing,45 the appearance of this scene in Macedonia seem
ingly relates to the importance of Nerezi and the ability of
Byzantine patrons to capitalize on the popularity of local
cults. The change of the apostles in later monuments likely
reflects the degree of influence which Nerezi had on the

35
later monuments in Macedonia. While the iconography
remained the same, the meaning was modified due to
changed political circumstances. The preservation of form
with changed content occurred frequently in Byzantium.
The iconographic innovations in the scene of the Com
munion at Nerezi reflect the current tendencies of the Byzan
tine court. Alexios Angelos Komnenos supported his cousin
emperor by creating visual propaganda for imperial political
ideas in a region of the utmost importance for the Empire.
In doing so, he chose popular local cults and touched upon
the local situation in order to make his images communi
cate with a broader audience and with greater efficiency.

3. The Officiating Bishops


Political overtones and liturgical character are also evident in
the scene of the officiating bishops. Eight bishops, four on
each wall of the bema, are depicted holding inscribed liturgi
cal scrolls with both hands, while walking and inclined to
wards the central image of the scene, the Hetoimasia (pls. 9 11,13,15; figs. XIII-XV, XX; 17-26). The bishops are well
preserved, identified by inscriptions, and dressed in ceremo
nial costumes consisting of sticharion, phelonion or polystavrion, omophorion, epitrachelion, epimanikia, and encherion.46
3.1. The Hetoimasia
The Hetoimasia, or the prepared throne, represents the
focal point of the procession of bishops (pl. 9; fig. XX). It
is located beneath the three-light window in the apse and
flanked by two angel-deacons inclined towards the throne.
Lavishly ornamented with gold and precious stones, the
throne is topped by a purple pillow and covered by two
cloths - blue and white.47 It displays the Gospels, a dove, a
double cross with a crown of thorns hung on it, and two
spears, the instruments of Christs Passion.
The Hetoimasia, an image of the prepared throne,
acquires a variety of meanings depending on its icono
graphic features and on the context in which it is repre-

45 St. Simon and St. Bartholomew are represented at Manastir; see Miljkovi-Pepek and Koco, Manastir (see footnote 15), pp. 49-50. The apostles in
Svekani have not been identified; see Miljkovi-Pepek, Crkvata Sv. Konstantin (see footnote 15), pp. 149-162.
46 The bishops on the south wall are (from east to west): St. Basil, inscribed as ; St. Athanasios, inscribed as ; St.
Gregory of Nyssa, inscribed as () (); and St. Nicholas of Myra, inscribed as . The bishops on the north
wall are: St. John Chrysostom, inscribed as () (); St. John the Theologian, inscribed as ( )
; St. Epiphanios of Cyprus, inscribed as ; and St. Gregory Thaumaturge, inscribed as ()
. Five bishops, St. Basil, St. Athanasios, St. John Chrysostom, St. John the Theologian, and St. Epiphanios are shown with the poly
stavrion, while others wear the phelonion. The polystavrion of St. John Chrysostom, St. Athanasios and St. Epiphanios is decorated with the cross
inscribed in a square - the gammatia pattern. For episcopal costume, see C. Walter, Art and Ritual of the Byzantine Church (London, 1982), pp. 9 -2 6 .
(The author, on p. 15, wrongly attributes the polystavrion to St. Gregory of Nyssa; at Nerezi, he is wearing a phelonion); P. Johnstone, The Byzan
tine Tradition in Church Embroidery (Chicago, 1967), pp. 12-19; P. Bernadakis, Les ornaments liturgiques chez les Grecs, EO 5 (1902): 129-139;
T. Papas, Geschichte der Messgewnder (Munich, 1965); and N. Thierry, Les costumes piscopal byzantin du 9e au 13e sicle daprs les peintures
dates, REB 24 (1966): 308-331.
47 The white textile resembles an altar-cloth. The blue cloth, however, is trapezoid in its shape, and may be associated with Christs garment, such as
the one represented in the dome of Elasson, yet this interpretation must remain tentative. See E. C. Constantinides, The Wall Paintings of the Panagia Olympiotissa at Elasson in Northern Thessaly (Athens, 1992), p. 97, pl. 11. A blue cloth covering the altar similar to that at Nerezi is found in the
dome of the church at Lysi. See Carr, The Thirteenth-Century Murals of Lysi (see footnote 6), figs. 2 0 -2 1 .
48 For the meaning of the Hetoimasia, see A. L. Townsley, Eucharistie Doctrine and the Liturgy in Late Byzantine Painting, OC 58 (1974): 138-153;
T. von Bogyay, Zur Geschichte der Hetoimasie, in: Akten des XL intemationalen Byzantinistenkongresses (Munich, 1958), pp. 5 8 -6 1 ; P. Franke,
Marginalien zum Problem der Hetoimasie, BZ 65/2 (1972): 375-378; Carr, The Thirteenth-Century Murals of Lysi (see footnote 6), pp. 52-54.
The appearance of the blue cloth in the renditions of the Hetoimasia requires further scholarly attention.

36
sented.48 When the attributes of Christ, such as the Gospel
Book, the cross, and the crown of thorns appear alone, the
Hetoimasia symbolizes the throne which belongs to Christ
only. By the Middle Byzantine period, such representations
of the Hetoimasia were understood as the throne prepared
for the second coming of Christ. It was popularly used both
within the context of Last Judgment scenes, and as a sepa
rate icon. However, when the dove, the symbol of the Holy
Spirit, is added to the attributes of Christ, as is the case at
Nerezi, the Hetoimasia symbolizes the Holy Trinity.49
3.2. Liturgical Character of the Scene
The Hetoimasia at Nerezi also acquires very strong litur
gical connotations. It is the focus and an integral part of the
scene of officiating bishops, shown as inclined towards the
Hetoimasia and thus offering their prayers simultaneously
to all members of the Holy Trinity, indivisible and divine.
The scene of the bishops officiating before the Hetoimasia
appeared for the first time at the end of the eleventh cen
tury. Prior to Nerezi, this scene is depicted in only two
preserved monuments: the Church of St. John Chry
sostom in Koutsovendis, Cyprus (1110-1118), and the
Church of the Virgin Eleousa at Veljusa, Macedonia
(c. 1080).50 In both renditions we see two bishops holding
an opened liturgical roll before the Hetoimasia: St. Basil
and St. Gregory at Koutsovendis, and St. Basil and St. John
Chrysostom, flanked by two other bishops carrying
books and shown frontally, at Veljusa. Thus, compared to
Nerezi, the rendition of bishops in the two earlier monu
ments lacks the immediacy of action and the emphasis on
ritual. For the first time at Nerezi, the number of bishops
is multiplied to eight and they are all shown inclined, in
motion, as if performing the actual liturgical rite.51

Chapter III
The transformation of bishops from a static series to a
dynamic procession at Nerezi is due as much to the new
iconography as to new stylistic characteristics. The in
clined position of all eight bishops creates a rhythm of cur
vatures which adhere to the architectural form of the bema
and create a rhythmical succession of parallel shapes
(figs. XIII; 17-25). The same rhythm of parallel shapes
is developed through the corresponding forms, sizes and
position of their rolls. Elongated, flat and abstract in their
appearance, the bishops are also lacking the facial anima
tion and psychological characterization evident in other
figures at Nerezi. The somewhat monotonous appearance
of the bishops has been blamed on the lesser skills of the
artist who worked in the sanctuary.52 It is also possible,
however, that the uniformity of form, gestures, and facial
types of the bishops may have been intentional. After all,
if the faces in the bema were as distinct as those elsewhere
in the church, the visual appearance of each individual par
ticipant would distract from the attention given to the
group as a whole. No visual variation, except the crosses
on the polystavria, was allowed to disturb the processional
movement of the bishops.
The bishops at Nerezi are shown as enacting the liturgy.
They incline towards the prepared throne in the same
manner in which the actual priest bows before the real altar
in the sanctuary, thus assuming the position of concele
brants in the actual liturgy (fig. XIV).53 Moreover, the type
of scrolls which they carry resemble those used during the
liturgical celebration,54 and the inscriptions on the bish
ops scrolls display the secret prayers recited by the priest
before the Great Entrance (figs. 17-25).55 However, while
the priest offers his prayers to the liturgical host, the bish
ops offer it to the symbols of His sacrifice - the cross, the
crown of thorns, the lances - and to the agent of mystical

49 Ibid.
50 For Koutsovendis, see C. Mango, The Monastery of St. John Chrysostomos at Koutsovendis and Its Wall Paintings, DOP 44 (1990): 77, pls. la, b;
and A. Stylianou and J. A. Stylianou, The Painted Churches of Cyprus (London, 1985), pp. 4 61-462; for Veljusa, see P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Veljusa:
Manastir Sv. Bogorodica Milostiva vo selo Veljusa kraj Strumica (Skopje, 1981), p. 156.
51 The bishops are also shown as a little inclined and carrying liturgical scrolls in the church of the Virgin Kosmosoteira at Pherrai; yet the focal point
of their liturgical action, the Hetoimasia, is missing. See S. Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira in Bera (Vira) (Munich, 1985), pls. 1 3 , 111-115.
52 The faces of St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa, as well as those of St. John the Theologian and St. Athanasios are virtually identical.
53 For the arrangement of the priest and concelebrants in the actual liturgy, see R. Taft, Great Entrance (see footnote 17), p. 388.
54 For the resemblance between scrolls carried by bishops and actual liturgical scrolls, see S. Gerstel, Liturgical Scrolls in the Byzantine Sanctuary,
Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 35/2 (1995): 195-204.
55 St. Gregory of Thaumaturges scroll exhibits text from the Prayer of the Catechumens recited by the priest before the Anaphora according to the
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom: , ,
(F. . Brightman, ed. Liturgies Eastern and Western, 2 Vols. [Oxford, 1965], Vol. 1, p. 315,12-14).
St. Epiphanios text exhibits the beginning of the Prayer of the Trisagion from the Liturgy of St. Basil: ,
(Ibid., p. 313, 4 - 5 ).
St. John the Theologians scroll exhibits the text from the Prayer of the Proskomidie from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, recited quietly by the
priest after he has placed the gifts on the altar: (Ibid., p. 319, lines 6-8).
St. John Chrysostoms scroll exhibits texts from the Prayer of the Prothesis from the Liturgy of St. Basil: ,
(Ibid., p. 309, lines 8-11).
St. Basils inscription is from the secret prayer which the priest recites during the chanting of the Cherubicon hymn:
() () ( ) (Ibid., p. 318, lines 4 -5 ).
St. Athanasios inscription displays the Prayer of the Little Entrance from the Liturgy of St. Basil:
( ) (Ibid., p. 312, lines 15-18).
St. Gregory of Nyssas inscription is from the Prayer of the first antiphon of the Liturgy of St. Basil: , (),
, (Ibid., p. 310, lines 16-19).
St. Nicholas inscription is from the Prayer of the second antiphon: (Ibid., p. 311, lines 5-6).
For inscriptions on bishops scrolls in the sanctuary, see G. Babi and C. Walter, The Inscriptions upon Liturgical Rolls in Byzantine Apse Deco
ration, REB 34 (1976): 270-273.

37

Chapter III
transformation of the liturgical host - the Holy Spirit
(pl. 9; figs. XV, XX). The images of the Holy Spirit, the
Cross and the Throne itself also symbolize the Holy Trin
ity, implying that Christ, who offered His sacrifice as
human is nonetheless a consubstantial member of the
Holy Trinity. Consequently, the Eucharistic sacrifice,
which re-enacts His salvific mission, is offered to the en
tire Holy Trinity, consubstantial and divine.56
3.3. The Church Councils
The association of the Hetoimasia at Nerezi with the Holy
Trinity, has been interpreted by scholars as a consequence
of theological debates carried out during many sessions of
Church Councils in the late eleventh and throughout the
twelfth century.57 I believe, however, that the dogmatic
disputes and political overtones of the Church Councils
made a much stronger impact on the program of Nerezi
than has been established thus far. In fact, the emphasis on
the realism of liturgical action, evident in the ritualistic
gestures of the apostles in the Communion, in the proces
sional appearance of the bishops, and in the Eucharistie as
pects of the Hetoimasia, is most likely a consequence of
the theological debates formulated in the Church Councils
of the second half of the twelfth century.
3.3.1. The M ajor Sessions
The major sessions of the Constantinopolitan Councils
took place in 1156, 1157, and 1166.58 The core of the argu
ments formulated at these three Councils, and discussed
intensely during the entire decade when Nerezi was under
construction, was the dual nature of Christ and His status
as a member of the Holy Trinity in the Eucharist. In its
popularity, the debate transcended church spheres and in
volved both the Emperor and his clan. While the Council
of 1156 was convened by a church dignitary, the newly ap

pointed Kievan Patriarch Constantine, its extension, the


Council session of 1157, was organized by the emperor
Manuel himself and held in the Blachernai palace. More
over, as the issues became more political and Manuel lost
the support of the majority of clergy, he not only organized
the Council of 1166 in his palace, but actually presided
over it and took the liberty to personally anathematize
his opponents.59 Disregarding the opposition, Manuel
brought in the entire Komnenian clan for the specific pur
pose of supporting his ideas at the Council.60The presence
of the patron of Nerezi at this Council is by no means
surprising, since his involvement in current theological
debates becomes apparent in the decoration of his church.
The ideas discussed at the two sessions of the first
Council, the first of which started on January 26,1156, and
the second organized on May 12-13,1157, made a particu
larly strong impact on the painted decoration of Nerezi.61
The debates of this Council were mainly focused on ques
tions related to the Eucharist. Unlike the theological de
bates of the eleventh century, however, which were mainly
concerned with the substance and nature of the Eucharistic host, such as for example the Azyme Controversy of
1054,62 the disputes of the second half of the twelfth cen
tury were more philosophical and challenged the very
essence of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Thus, the Council of
1156/57 found it necessary to reestablish the Orthodox
position on the actual nature, substance, as well as the
meaning and veracity of the sacrifice of Christ and of its
perpetual re-enactment in the Eucharistic liturgy.
3.3.2. H eretical Attacks
The need to reestablish the traditional Orthodox view on
the essential nature of the Eucharistic celebration was ne
cessitated by various heretical attacks, which spread in the
eleventh century, and became particularly intense in the
twelfth. For example, the heretical movement of the Bo-

56 The liturgical action of the bishops is made even more realistic by the inclusion of angels who flank the Hetoimasia, hold liturgical fans, and assume
the function of deacons in their dress, attributes, and action.
57 See Townsley, Eucharistic Doctrine (see footnote 48), pp. 138-155; G. Babi, Les discussions christologiques et le dcor des glises byzantines au
XII sicle, Frhmittelalterliche Studien 2 (1968): 368-386; Walter, Art and Ritual (see footnote 46), pp. 198-199; and N. Gkioles, O byzantinos
troullos kai to eikonographiko tou programma (Athens, 1990), pp. 24-27.
58 For the sources on the Council of 1156/57, see PG 140, cols. 148-201; Patmiake Bibliothekey ed. by I. Sakkellion (Athens, 1890), pp. 316-328; and
J. Gouillard, Le Synodikon de lorthodoxie: dition et commentaire, TM 2 (1967): 72-74; 210-215. For a discussion on the Council, see P. Cheremuchin, Konstantinopolskii Sobor 1157 g. i Nikolai, episkop Mefonski, Bogoslovskie Trudy 1 (1960): 87-109; and F. Chalandon, Jean II Comnne et Manuel I Comnne, 2 Vols. (Paris, 1912), Vol. 1, pp. 640-643. For the Council of 1166, see PG 140, cols. 202-282; Gouillard, Synodikon
(see above), pp.7 6 -8 0 ; 216-226; and S. N. Sakkos, H en Konstantinoupolei synodos tou 1170, in: Theologikon Symposion in Honor of P.
Chrestou (Thessaloniki, 1967), pp. 313-352; for a discussion, see P. Classen, Das Konzil von Konstantinopel 1166 und die Lateiner, BZ 48 (1955):
339-368; G. Thetford, The Christological Councils of 1166 and 1170 in Constantinople, St. Vladimirs Theological Quarterly 31 (1987): 143-161;
Dondoine, Hugues Ethrien et le concile (see footnote 28), pp. 473-483; C. Mango, The Concilar Edict of 1166, DOP 17 (1963): 317-330; and
Chalandon, Jean II Comnne et Manuel I Comnne (see above), pp. 646-652. For contemporary sources, see N. Choniates, O City of Byzantium.
Annals of Niketas Choniates, tr. by H. J. Magoulias (Detroit, 1984), pp. 119-121; and J. Kinnamos, Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus, tr. by
C. M. Brand (New York, 1976), pp. 135-136. For general discussion about both Councils, see M. Angold, Church and Society in Byzantium Under
the Comneni 1081-1261 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 8 2 -86; Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see footnote 26), pp. 366-382; A. P. Kazh
dan, Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Berkeley, 1985), pp. 158-162; J. M. Hussey, The Orthodox Church in the
Byzantine Empire (Oxford, 1986), pp. 151 -154; and Idem, Church and Learning in the Byzantine Empire 867-1185 (Oxford, 1937), pp. 89-181.
59 See Gouillard, Synodikon (see footnote 58), pp.216-226.
60 For the list of church dignitaries present at the Council, see PG 140, cols. 257-262, 279-292.
61 For the dates of the sessions and the scholarly dispute surrounding them, see Cheremuchin, Konstantinopolskii Sobor 1157 (see footnote 58),
pp. 88-89.
62 For the Azyme Controversy, see M. H. Smith, And Taking Bread... Cerularius and the Azyme Controversy of 1054 (Paris, 1977).

Chapter III

38
gomils became widespread throughout the empire at this
time.63 In addition to proclaiming dualism, the Bogomils
also challenged the celebration of the Eucharist; they de
nied the need to celebrate the liturgy and claimed that it had
nothing to do with individual salvation. Their ideas were
condemned at the special Council held in 1143.64 Another
attack on the validity of Eucharistic celebration came from
the circles of intellectuals in the capital. The class of intellec
tuals which flourished around the Patriarchal school of Con
stantinople already in the eleventh century, expressed a
great interest in ancient literature, philosophy, and science.65
While their academic activities planted the seeds and were
important factors in the formation of what is now known as
the twelfth-century renaissance, their rational thinking and
skepticism questioned traditional church doctrines and had
both theological and political implications.
3.3.3. The Church C ouncil o f 1156/57
The debates of the Church Council of 1156/57 were initi
ated by distinguished members of the Constantinopolitan
school of rationalists, Nikephoros Basilakes, Michael the
Rhetor, and Soterichos Panteugenes.66 They questioned
the meaning of the concluding verses of the Cherubicon
prayer recited silently by the priest during the singing of
the Cherubicon hymn: For thou art both he that offereth
and he that is offered. Thou dost receive and art given, O
Christ our God, and unto thee we ascribe glory together
with thine eternal Father, and by thy most holy, gracious
and life-giving spirit; now and forever.67
The rationalists, and particularly Panteugenes, attacked
the essential meaning of these verses and thus the validity
of the Eucharistic sacrifice in general. They claimed that it
is impossible for Christ to be simultaneously rendered as
victim, priest - that is officiant - and as a receiver. In their
view, the Father and Son were differentiated, not only in
form but also in substance. Thus the Eucharistic sacrifice
could be offered only to the Father, and perhaps to the
Holy Spirit. If Eucharistic sacrifice was to be offered to the
Son, than this very action would divide Christ in two
hypostases and, in doing so, conform with Nestorian
heresy. In another words, Panteugenes denied Christs in
separable, dual nature and his consubstantiality with other
members of the Holy Trinity.68
By negating the notion that Eucharistic sacrifice is of
fered to Christ, Panteugenes also denied the correlation
63
64
65
66
67
68

69
70
71

between the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacrifice of


Christ. For him, the Eucharist is not a sacrifice at all, but
only a commemoration of the event from the past, the par
taking of the host being simply a historical memento of the
Last Supper. Consequently, the words he who offers and
is offered became irrelevant. Thus, in addition to attack
ing the dual nature of Christ, one of the central concepts of
Christian dogma, Panteugenes also challenged the essence
of the Eucharist by completely disregarding its central
event, the transubstantiation.
That Panteugenes acquired a large number of supporters
and that his views were quite threatening for the church be
comes apparent when one considers the force with which
the emperor and the members of the church anathematized
both him and his supporters during the second session of
the Council in 1157. In defending traditional, Orthodox
views, the Church used texts of famous Church fathers,
such as St. John of Damascus, St. John Chrysostom, St. An
drew of Crete, and St. Maximus the Confessor. The selected
texts were focused on doctrinal aspects of the Eucharist and
testifying to the notion that Christs priestly sacrifice was
offered to all members of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial
and divine.69 The excerpts from the texts explicitly state
that Eucharistic sacrifice is not performed in memory, but
as a true re-enactment of Christs sacrifice which happens
every time the liturgy is performed.
3.3.4. The Texts o f Church Fathers in the Acts
o f the C ouncil
The passages quoted in the Acts of the Council are both
poetical and persuasive. For example, the text of Cyril of
Alexandria instructs the faithful to drink His holy blood
for the purification of our sins and for participation in His
Resurrection, and to believe that he alone is the priest and
the sacrificed, the one who is offered and who offers and
who receives and distributes, not dividing in two hypo
stasis, divine, and divinely indivisible.70 The quote from
St. Cyril of Jerusalem says "When he became a man, he
acted as a priest, offering his priestly sacrifice not only
to God, but to Himself and to the Father.71 And the
Orthodox position on the validity of the Eucharist is
summarized in the quote from the Fourth Book of De
Fide O rthodoxa by John of Damascus:
"The bread and wine are not a figure of the body and
blood of Christ - God forbid! - but the actual deified body

For Bogomils, see M. Loos, Dualist Heresy in the Middle Ages (Prague, 1974); and D. Obolensky, The Bogomils (Cambridge, 1948).
Les regestes des actes du Patriarchat de Constantinople, ed. by V. Laurent and J. Darrouzes (Paris, 1932-1979), Part 3, nos. 1011, 1012, 1014.
See R. Browning, The Patriarchal School at Constantinople in the Twelfth Century, Byzantion 32 (1962): 167-202; 33 (1963): 11-40.
Soterichos Panteugenes, who was a deacon of St. Sophia and about to become the patriarch-elect of Antioch, joined the debate later, but became its
main proponent.
Brightman, Liturgies (see footnote 58), p. 378, 5-13.
The text composed by Panteugenes is unfortunately lost, and known to us only through the writings of his opponents, particularly bishop Nicholas
of Methone. For a discussion, see Cheremuchin, Konstantinopolskii Sobor 1157 (see footnote 58), pp. 98-109; and A. Angelou, Nicholas of
Methone: The Life and Works of a Twelfth-Century Bishop, in: Byzantium and the Classical Tradition, ed. by M. Mullet and R. Scott (Birming
ham, 1981), pp. 143-148.
For the texts of the church fathers, see PG 140, cols. 155-178.
PG 140, col. 166, 3.
PG 140, col. 166, 4.

39

Chapter III
of the Lord, because the Lord Himself said: This is my
body; not a figure of my body but my body, and not a
figure of my blood but cmy blood. Even before this He
had said to the Jews: except you eat of the flesh of the Son
of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you
(John 6, 54-56). For my flesh is meat indeed: and my
blood is drink indeed. And again: He that eateth me, shall
live ... [It was with bread and wine that Melchisedech, the
priest of the most high God, received Abraham, when he
was returning from the slaughter of the alien tribes. That
altar prefigured this mystical altar, even as that priest was a
type and figure of the true Archpriest who is Christ. For
thou, He says art a priest forever according to the order
of Melchisedech. This bread was figured by the loaves of
proposition.] This is quite plainly the pure and unbloody
sacrifice which the Lord, through the mouth of the
Prophet, said was to be offered to Him ... Moreover, al
though some may have called the bread and the wine anti
types of the body and blood of the Lord, as did the inspired
Basil (in the epiclesis), they did not say this as referring to
after the consecration, but to before the consecration, and
it was thus that they called the offertory bread itself.72
3.3.5. The Anathemas
The position of the Orthodox Church was formulated in
four anathemas included in the Synodikon of Ortho
doxy.73 The anathemas clearly and explicitly state that the
Eucharistic sacrifice is offered to the Holy Trinity, indivis
ible and divine; that the sacrifice performed during the Eu
charist is not a memory of a historical event, but a true re
enactment of Christs sacrifice on the cross. In addition,
the decisions of the Council also explain redemption as
achieved through the economy of salvation, and primarily
through the Passion of Christ, who became a priest for hu
manity. Thus God incarnate is both one who offers and
who is offered; he offers under the aspect of His Incar
nation, is offered as the flesh, and received as deity.
3.3.6. The Church Councils and the Painted Program
o f the Bema
The decisions of the Council were very likely echoed
in the stylistic and iconographic novelties of the bema at
Nerezi. The newly introduced processional character of
both bishops and apostles, as well the insistence on liturgi
cal realism for the first time so expressly conveyed at
Nerezi, conform with the Orthodox position on the truth
fulness and verism of Eucharistic action. Moreover, the
Eucharistie and Trinitarian symbolism introduced to the

image of the Hetoimasia clearly states that Christ is consubstantial with other members of the Trinity, and that the
Eucharistic sacrifice is offered to the entire Holy Trinity,
indivisible and divine. The Trinitarian concept is alluded to
once again, with the inclusion of the Kiss of the Apostles
in the scene of the Communion, a liturgical action which
coincides with the proclamation of the Trinitarian Confes
sion. The notion about the dual nature of Christ who of
fers in human form as priest and is offered as divine and
consubstantial with other members of the Trinity is un
derlined in the images along the vertical axis of the bema.
The Incarnation of Christ is symbolized through the im
age of the Virgin with Christ Child; His human sacrifice,
and His offering as priest are suggested through the cere
monially represented scene of the Communion; the pro
cession of bishops, enacting liturgy before the Eucharistically charged image of the Holy Trinity, allude to Christs
divinity as a state through which he is received during the
Eucharistic rite.
The impact of church debates and the official position of
the Orthodox church is also formulated in the program of
other areas of the church; it initiated many iconographic
and stylistic novelties, as is evident from the decoration of
the domical vaults to which we will now turn.

CUPOLAS
The twelfth-century decoration of the central cupola at
Nerezi was completely destroyed and subsequently re
painted in the sixteenth century, due to earthquake damage
(figs. VIII, IX, XII; 84 - 87). The loss of the original decoration
in the central cupola presents a serious obstacle in understand
ing both the program of the church and, on a more general
level, the development of iconographic programs of twelfthcentury cupolas. Some elements of its decoration, however,
can be deduced from the well preserved decoration of the four
subsidiary cupolas topping the side chapels. The subsidiary
cupolas are programatically unified, and it is quite plausible
that they were related to the iconography of the central dome.
Each of the subsidiary cupolas displays a medallion with
the bust of Christ in the dome and a choir of angels carry
ing censers and liturgical gifts in the drum (pls. 12,14, 26,
27; figs. XXI-XXV). While the angels show correspond
ing features in all four chapels, Christ is represented in dif
ferent forms: Emmanuel (north-east dome); Ancient of
Days (south-east dome); Mature Christ resembling the
Pantokrator (north-west dome); and Priest (south-west
dome).74 The program of the subsidiary cupolas at Nerezi

72 PG 140, col. 158, 2; translated in St. John of Damascus. Writings, tr. by F. H. Chase, Jr. (New York, 1958), pp. 359-361.
73 Gouillard, Synodikon (see footnote 58), pp. 72-74.
74 Each image of Christ is encircled with a medallion displaying stylized red acanthus leaves set against the blue background. The medallion of Em
manuel is largely damaged; he is identified by the lower half of his golden robe and by the fact that he is blessing with both hands. See Constantinides, Olympiotissa (see footnote 47), p. 183. The medallion seemingly deteriorated since its discovery, because it was identified as Emmanuel in early
reports, such as F. Mesesnel, Najstariji sloj fresaka u Nerezima, GSND 7/8 (1929/30): 119-132. The Ancient-of-Days is well preserved and shown
as blessing with his right hand, while holding a closed book in his left. Although portions of the ornamental foliage encircling the image of the ma
ture Christ, as well as most of his robes are damaged, the facial features clearly distinguish him as a mature man, with straight brown hair and beard.
The image of Christ-Priest is well preserved; only small portions of the ornament are somewhat damaged. He is dressed in purple robes, and shown
as holding a scroll in his right hand while blessing with the left.

Chapter III

40
is both novel and unique. Particularly innovative is the
portrayal of angels with liturgical utensils, and the repre
sentation of Christ as Priest (pls. 12, 14, 26, 27; fig. XXV).
Both angels and the image of Christ-Priest are liturgical in
their origin, meant to stress the realism of the actual ritual
performed in the church.

content evident in the attire, attributes, and the proces


sional motion of the angels at Nerezi is unprecedented in
monuments antedating Nerezi; it became a popular fea
ture in the later, Palaiologan iconography of Byzantine
domes.77

2. Images of Christ
1. The Procession of Angels
Each drum at Nerezi displays four angels in a procession.
While the angels in the east cupolas split in pairs of two on
the east side and meet on the west, the angels in the west
ern domes split on the west side and meet on the east
(pls. 12, 14, 26, 27; fig. XXIV). Thus, the procession of an
gels in all four domes is oriented towards the central dome.
The angels are dressed in deacons vestments, the white
sticharion, which provides a strong contrast to their wings,
streaked in red and outlined in black. They carry censers in
their right hands, while holding a pyxis with the Eucharistic host in the left.75 Each angel also carries two cloths: the
white cloth veils the hand, while the red covers the pyxis.
The two cloths are also likely related to liturgy. The white
cloth may refer to the veil which covers the Eucharistic
gifts - the aer - and was traditionally carried by the dea
cons, while the red cloth was spread around the deacons
arm to protect the host at the moment shortly preceding
the Communion, when the priest displays the host.76
Representations of the angels who surround Christ are
commonly found in the central domes of the post-iconoclastic period. Their popularity is particularly noticeable,
and their function distinctly diverse, in the churches of
the twelfth century. However, the pronounced liturgical

The four images of Christ represented in medallions of the


subsidiary domes also relate to the liturgy. The representa
tions of Emmanuel, Ancient of Days, and Pantokrator
have a long history in Byzantine art, appearing in manu
scripts and icons since the pre-iconoclastic period, and be
coming particularly prominent during the twelfth century.
Emmanuel, an image of the youthful Christ, is a type
known to us from both literary and visual sources
(fig. XXI).78 According to Isaiah 7, 14 and Matthew 1,
20-23, Emmanuel means God-with-us, and he is particu
larly associated with Christ in the context of Incarnation
and Salvation. Thus, Emmanuel stresses the dual nature of
Christ and the Incarnation as the crucial step in the econ
omy of Salvation. Moreover, literary sources also maintain
that Emmanuel is the son of God and the second person of
the Holy Trinity; this concept is repeatedly mentioned in
the liturgical readings.79
Like the Emmanuel, the Ancient of Days is also a divine
manifestation of God. Following the text of Daniel 7, 9, the
Ancient of Days is represented as an old man with longish
white hair and beard (fig. XXII). The image became popu
lar in the post-iconoclastic period, and it appears both
individually and in a variety of scenes, such as the Last
Judgment, the Hetoimasia, the Annunciation and the

75 For the liturgical use of the pyxis, see A. Saint-Clair, The Visit to the Tomb: Narrative and Liturgy on three Early Christian Pyxides, Gesta 18
(1979): 127-135.
76 For a discussion on the usage of the red cloth, see A. Grabar, Un rouleau liturgique constantinopolitain et ses peintures, DOP 8 (1954): 163-199.
77 The earliest representations of angels in the dome mainly displayed the angels raising their hands in adoration and often relating to the theme of the
Ascension. The angels in the twelfth-century domes, however, display a considerable variety of postures, gestures, and costumes - from deacons
vestments to imperial attire. In addition, the angels in twelfth-century domes are shown either alone and surrounding the image of Christ Pantokra
tor, or in the company of other holy personages, such as the Virgin, St. John, as well as apostles and prophets. Moreover, in many instances, the
Hetoimasia or the Prepared Throne is also included. Apart from the image of Christ Pantokrator (enthroned or in medallion), who is most frequently
rendered in the center of the dome, the twelfth-century domes do not exhibit a single dominant iconographic type, a feature which clearly indicates
that the period under consideration is characterized by a great experimentation and re-structuring of the iconography of domical vaults.
For the iconography of post-iconoclastic domes, see Gkioles, O byzantinos troullos (see footnote 57); S. Dufrenne, Les programmes iconographique
des coupoles dans les glises du monde byzantin et postbyzantin, Linformation de l histoire de l art 10-12 (1965-67): 185-199; O. Demus, Prob
lme byzantinischer Kuppel-Darstellungen, CA 25 (1976): 101-108; T. Velmans, Quelque programmes iconographiques de coupoles chypriotes
du X IIe au XVe sicle, CA 32 (1984): 137-159. For the programmes of twelfth-century domes, see Carr, The Thirteenth-Century Murals of Lysi
(see footnote 6), pp. 4 8 -5 4 ; H. Grigoriadu, Affinits iconographiques de dcors peints en Chypre et en Grce au X IIe sicle, Praktika 1972, Vol. 2,
pp.3 7 -4 1; pls. 6 -1 1 ; and L. Hadermann-Misguich, Fresques de Chypre et de Macdoine dans la seconde moiti du X IIe sicle, Praktika 1972,
Vol.2, pp.4 3 -4 9 ; pls. 12-13.
78 The title Emmanuel has been inscribed on a variety of images since early Christian times, such as on the scene of the Adoration of Magi on several
ampoulae from Monza, on the Coptic icon from the Benaki Museum in Athens, where the title accompanies the portrait of a young man, or on an
icon from Mount Sinai which displays Christ with white hair and beard. For ampoulae, see A. Grabar, Ampoules de Terre Sainte (Paris, 1958), pls. 2,
8,10; for the Coptic icon, see M. Chatzidakis, An Encaustic Icon of Christ at Sinai, AB 49 (1967): 197-208, fig. 19; for the Sinai icon, see K. Weitzmann, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai: The Icons, I. From the Sixth to the Tenth Century (Princeton, 1976), pp. 41 -4 3 ; pl. XVIII,
B. 16. Portraits of a youthful Christ labeled Emmanuel, which are visually close to the medallion at Nerezi are, however, a post-iconoclastic inven
tion. See C. H. W. Wendt, Das Christus-Immanuel Bild der Osterkirche, Zeitschrift f r Kunstwissenschaft 4 (1950): 284-287. This type of Christ
became particularly popular in the twelfth century appearing, for example, at Monreale, at H. Anargyroi in Kastoria, as well as on the coinage of
Manuel I. See O. Demus, The Mosaics of Norman Sicily (London, 1949), p. 244; M. Chatzidakis, ed., Kastoria (Athens, 1985), p. 34, fig. 13; and
M. F. Hendy, Coinage and Money in the Byzantine Empire 1081-1261 (Washington, 1969), p. 126, pis. 2 -13 .
79 For the meaning of the Emmanuel and for texts related to the image, see G. Millet, La dalmatique du Vatican (Paris, 1945), pp. 6 1 -8 1 . For bibliog
raphy and a list of representations of this type, see Emmanuel in LCI, Vol. 1, pp. 390-392; and Emmanuel in RBK, Vol. 1, cols. 1008-1010.

Chapter III
Adoration of the Magi.80 Depending on the context, the
image assumes a variety of meanings. It is most commonly
used to emphasize the theophanic character, dual nature,
and the eternity of God.81 The Ancient of Days also em
phasizes the notion of Christ as the savior of the faithful,
particularly so when he appears within scenes of the Last
Judgment and the Deesis.
The image of the mature Christ with dark hair and
beard, which resembles the type of Christ Pantokrator in
the north-west chapel at Nerezi, complements the images
of youthful Christ - Emmanuel - and old Christ - the
Ancient of Days, by representing yet another life stage of
Christ (figs. XXIII, XXIV).82 The representations of three
stages of the life of Christ became popular in Byzantium
since the eleventh century.83 According to patristic writ
ings and the liturgy, the three different appearances of
Christ were symbolic of the Incarnation (Emmanuel), the
terrestrial life of Christ which embodies his sufferings
(Pantokrator), and His victory over death (Ancient of
Days). For example, during the ceremony of the Creed,
when the priest lifts the large veil, raising it up and down
over the Holy gifts, both the priest and the faithful say to
themselves:
I believe in one God ... of one essence with the Father
...; who for us men and for our salvation came down from
Heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Vir
gin Mary, and became man. And he was crucified for us
under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And on
the third day he rose again ... and ascended into heaven,
and sits at the right hand of the Father.84
The triple images of Christ symbolize the major events
from the terrestrial life of Christ. In addition, they also
emphasize that Christ is polymorphous, distinguished by
His dual nature, and consubstantial with other members of
the Holy Trinity. The portrayal of different images of
Christ thus relate to the major points of the current theo

41
logical disputes which, as discussed earlier, dealt exten
sively with the nature and status of Christ both in the
Eucharist and in relation to other members of the Holy
Trinity.
2.1. Christ Priest
The impact of the contemporary church Councils is par
ticularly evident in the inclusion of the image of ChristPriest in the south-west dome (fig. XXV). The ChristPriest at Nerezi, shown with short, thick, dark hair and a
short, thin beard and tonsure, represents the earliest sur
viving image of this type of Christ in the dome.85 The im
age of Christ-Priest is based on an Early Christian apoc
ryphal text which explains the election of Christ, by a
general vote, to the Council of twenty-two priests of the
temple of Jerusalem.86The choice was made on the basis of
the miraculous conception and on the notion that Christ,
although appearing as human, is divine: a manifestation of
God. The text most likely originated in the pre-Justinianic
period, but became popular after iconoclasm, to fall out of
use because of serious suspicions regarding its orthodoxy
during the thirteenth century.87
Prior to Nerezi, the Christ-Priest in a medallion is
found only on the eastern transverse arch of the eleventh
century church of St. Sophia in Kiev.88 In the twelfth cen
tury, besides Nerezi, this type of Christ is found only in
the apse of the church of Nereditsa (1199).89 If the repre
sentations of Christ-Priest with tonsure and in a medallion
appear relatively rarely in Byzantium, the concept of His
priesthood gained in popularity after the iconoclastic con
troversy. This is particularly evident in the renditions of
the scenes of the Communion of the Apostles. For exam
ple, in the ninth-century Chludov Psalter (fol. 115), rather
than illustrating Psalm 33, 8, Taste and see that the Lord
is good, as was customary, the portrayal of the Commu-

80 The earliest preserved renditions of the Ancient of Days identified with an inscription is found in ninth-century manuscripts, such as the Sacra Parallela (Paris, Bibliothque Nationale, gr. 923, fol. 40r); see K. Weitzmann, The Miniatures of the Sacra Parallela, Parisinus Graecus 923 (Princeton,
1979), p. 190, fig. 490. Ancient of Days appears in the Deesis in the church of Hagios Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi, Kastoria; in the Annunciation in Hagioi
Anargyroi, Kastoria; in the story of the Three Magi, in Taphou 14 (Jerusalem, Greek Patriarchal Library, fol. 106v). For Kastoria, see Pelekanides
and Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 10), p. 64, fig. 17; and S. Pelekanides, Kastoria (Thessaloniki, 1953), pl. 14a. For Taphou 14, see T. Avner, The
Impact of the Liturgy on Style and Content, JOB 32/5 (1982), fig. 1.
81 For the meanings of the image, see Millet, La dalmatique (see footnote 79), pp. 4 2 -4 4 ; J. Radovanovi, Ikonografija fresaka protezisa crkve svetih
Apostola u Pei, ZLU 4 (1968): 2 8 -6 3 ; and A. Grabar, La reprsentation de lintelligible dans lart byzantin du Moyen ge, in: Actes du Ve con
grs international des tudes byzantines, II (Paris, 1948), pp. 52-57.
82 A distinction between the Christ Pantokrator and the image of the mature Christ which appears in the subsidiary dome of Nerezi, is drawn because
the Pantokrator in the central dome had a different impact on the viewer than the same image within the subsidiary domes. See D. Pani and G. Babi,
Bogorodica Ljevika (Belgrade, 1975), pp. 4 1-4 3 .
83 For a discussion and bibliography, see Avner, The Impact of the Liturgy on Style and Content (see footnote 80), pp. 459-467; S. Tsuji, The Head
piece Miniatures and Genealogy Pictures in Paris gr. 74, DOP 29 (1975): 165-205; and R. Hamann-MacLean, Grundlegung (see footnote 31),
pp. 47-53.
84 Brightman, Liturgies (see footnote 58), p. 383; cited in Avner, The Impact of the Liturgy on Style (see footnote 80), p. 463; translated in The
Orthodox Liturgy (Oxford, 1982), pp. 69-70.
85 For other representations of this type of Christ, see V. Lazarev, Old Russian Murals and Mosaics: From the X I to the XVI Centuries (London, 1966),
p. 225.
86 The text of the apocrypha was published by A. Vasiliev, Anecdota graeco-bizantina (Moscow, 1893), pp. 58-72. The appearance of this image in art
was first interpreted by D. V. Ainalov, Novy ikonograficheski obraz Khrista, Seminarium Kondakovianum 2 (1928), pp. 19-23.
87 For a discussion about the text, see Ainalov, Novy ikonograficheski obraz Khrista (see footnote 86), and A. M. Lidov, Khristos-sviashennik v
ikonograficheskih programmakh X I-X II vekov, VizVrem 55 (1994): 187-193.
88 See Lazarev, Old Russian Murals and Mosaics (see footnote 85), p. 225; and Idem, Mozaiki SofiKievskoi (Moscow, 1960), pp. 31-32 .
89 Ibid. Lazarev also claims that Christ-Priest was once depicted in the refectory of the monastery at Bertubani (1213-1222), yet that notion has been
disputed.

Chapter III

42
nion accompanies Psalm 109, 4, Thou art a priest forever,
after the order of Melchisedek.90 Moreover, in the late
eleventh/early twelfth-century liturgical scroll from
Jerusalem, Staurou 109, Christ is rendered as priest, cele
brating the Eucharist and assisted by angel-deacons.91 He
is flanked by two angel-deacons holding liturgical fans and
two additional angel-deacons who are carrying the liturgi
cal utensils: a censer and a paten. The angel-deacons in the
manuscript are comparable to the angel-deacons who sur
round the image of Christ at Nerezi, and may be con
sidered as among their prototypes.
In addition, following iconoclasm, a priestly attribute is
also found in the representations of the Christ-Child. For
example, the Child held by the enthroned Virgin in the
eleventh-century image in the conch of the apse of the
Cathedral church of St. Sophia in Ohrid wears a version of
a stole wrapped around his shoulders, an attribute inter
preted as a symbol of Christs priesthood.92 The same at
tribute, designating the priestly function of Christ, is seen
in the images of Christ surrounded by apostles in the
church of anli Kilise in Cappadocia, in the image of
Christ-Child held by the Virgin in the niche above the
main entrance to the church of Monreale, and in the scene
of the Annunciation at Lagoudera on Cyprus.93 Thus,
while the image of Christ-Priest at Nerezi is rare in its
form, it nonetheless represents a popular choice in terms of
its meaning.
The popularity of the concept of Christs priesthood in
the post-iconoclastic period has been explained through
historical circumstances. V. Lazarev claims that the repre
sentation of Christ as priest may have been occasioned by
the local struggle of the church against the early eleventhcentury heretical tendency to deny the ecclesiastical hier
archy.94 A. Lidov takes the issue further and explains the
importance which the true priesthood of Christ had within
the context of the polemics about the leavened and unleav
ened bread, one of the major controversial issues during
the Schism of 1054.95 Not withstanding the validity of both
arguments for the appearance of Christ-Priest in the
eleventh-century monuments, the inclusion of ChristPriest in the twelfth century has to be studied contextually,
considering both the placement of the image within the
church and general historical and social trends.

2.2. The Significance of the Images of Christ


in the Domes
At Nerezi, the image of Christ-Priest is related to the rep
resentations of Christ in the other domes. The image of
Christ-Priest, as suggested by the apocryphal text from
which it originated, stresses the dual nature of Christ, the
notion implied in the Emmanuel - Ancient of Days - Pantokrator triad discussed above. Moreover, as a priest,
Christ is both the one who offers and who is offered. He is
the one who established the sacrament of the Eucharist,
who officiates as a heavenly Priest, and whose actions are
mimicked in the terrestrial rite. Like other appearances of
Christ, Christ as Priest is mentioned in the Eucharistic
liturgy. In fact, in the secret prayer recited by the priest
during the choirs singing of the Cherubicon, the priestly
function of Christ is recollected along with other major
events of His terrestrial life. The prayer reads:
... Nevertheless through Thine unspeakable and bound
less love for mankind, Thou didst become man, yet without
change or alteration, and as Ruler of All didst become our
High Priest, and didst commit to us the ministry of this
liturgical and bloodless sacrifice. For Thou alone, O Lord
our God, rulest over those in Heaven and on earth; who art
borne on the throne of the Cherubim ... 96
The prayer recollects the terrestrial life of Christ refer
ring to the main stages of His life discussed earlier, while at
the same time including the importance of Christs func
tion as a priest in the economy of human salvation. It is
also important to note that this prayer represents the only
instance in the liturgical readings which recollects the four
appearances of Christ represented in the domes at Nerezi.
It is thus possible that the program of the subsidiary
domes at Nerezi may be intended as the illustration of this
prayer. This contention becomes even more plausible
when one considers that it is the same prayer which con
tains the verses: Thou art both he that offereth and he that
is offered. Thou dost receive and art given.97 These were
the verses, as mentioned earlier, which stirred up contro
versy and resulted in the Church Council of 1156.
The decision to represent the four images of Christ, re
counted in the secret prayer of the Cherubicon, may have
been intended as a response to current theological dis-

90 For illustration of the Communion scene in the Chludov Psalter (Moscow, Historical Museum, cod. 129), see M. V. Shchepkina, Miniatury Khludovsko Psaltyri (Moscow, 1977), fol. 115. For a discussion, see Walters, Art and Ritual (see footnote 46), p. 191.
91 Staurou 109 contains two images of the Communion. While one represents Christ twice, flanking the text and distributing wine and bread to apos
tles, the other occupies the full width of the text and displays the image of Christ as priest behind the altar blessing with his right hand and holding
the roll in his left. The scene illustrates Christ in his priestly function celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy in Heaven, and accompanied by angeldeacons. For the scroll, see Grabar, Un rouleau liturgique (see footnote 76), pp. 163-199.
92 See Walter, Art and Ritual (see footnote 46), p. 194; and A. Lidov, Obraz Khrista-arkhiereia v ikonografichesko programme Sofii okhridsko,
Zograf 17 (1987): 5 -2 0 . For a different opinion, see A. Epstein, The Political Content of the Paintings of Saint Sophia at Ohrid, JOB 29 (1980):
319.
93 For these examples and for a comprehensive analysis of images of Christ-Priest in Byzantium, see Lidov, Hristos-sviashennik (see footnote 87),
pp. 187-193; Idem, Obraz Khrista-arkhiereia (see footnote 92), pp. 5 -2 0 ; Idem, Skhizma i vizantiskaia hramovaia dekoraciia, in: A. M. Lidov,
ed., Vostochnokhristianski kbram. Liturgiia i iskusstvo (St. Petersburg, 1994), pp. 17-27; and Idem, LImage du Christ-prlat dans le programme
iconographique de Sainte Sophie dOhride, Arte Cristiana 79 (1991): 245-250.
94 Lazarev, Old Russian Murals and Mosaics (see footnote 85), p. 225.
95 See footnote 93.
96 Brightman, Liturgies (see footnote 58), p. 377,15-25; translated in: The Orthodox Liturgy, pp. 107-108.
97 Brightman, Liturgies (see footnote 58), p. 378, 5 -1 3 ; translated in The Orthodox Liturgy, p. 108.

43

Chapter III
putes. The notion that Christ is polymorphous, divine
even in his human appearance, and consubstantial with
other members of the Holy Trinity, clearly communicated
through the four medallions which crown the subsidiary
domes at Nerezi, certainly underscores the major deci
sions of the Council as declared in the Synodikon.98 More
over, by representing angels as actually enacting liturgy led
by Christ, the designer of the program at Nerezi stressed
the notion of liturgical realism - the sacrifice which hap
pens here and now - a point so fervently argued by the ma
jority of clergy and the Emperor at the Council of 1156/57.

3. The Origin of the Iconography of the Domes


The origin of the program of the subsidiary domes at Nerezi
is difficult to establish. Among the five-domed churches,
only the twelfth-century church of the Virgin Kosmosoteira
(c. 1152) at Pherrai antedates Nerezi and has preserved most
of its decoration in the subsidiary domes.99 However, the
images of archangels rendered in the medallions of its eas
tern domes, and the Virgin and Christ in the western lack the
liturgical realism represented at Nerezi.100 Moreover, the
considerable losses of the programmatic units in this church
prevent the contextual analysis of these images.101 If one
considers, on the other hand, surviving examples of the dif
ferent images of Christ represented in the domical vaults
prior to Nerezi, such as those at Veljusa, or in Hagios Ste
phanos in Kastoria, they too lack the liturgical realism of the
iconography at Nerezi.102 In addition, none of the above
mentioned examples includes the image of Christ-Priest.
Rather than in the domical vaults, the iconography of
the subsidiary domes at Nerezi may have originated in the
sanctuaries of eleventh-century churches. The liturgical
content of the sanctuaries was one of the major develop
ments of the church decoration in the post-iconoclastic pe
riod, as has been mentioned earlier. Particularly close to
Nerezi are the programs of the bema in the churches of
St. Sophia in Kiev and in Ohrid. The bema at Ohrid, like
the domes at Nerezi, represent Christ as polymorphous.103
He is represented as Emmanuel in the conch, as a mature
man in the Communion, as eternal cosmic ruler and sup
reme divine being in the Ascension in the vault, and as
Pantokrator on the piers flanking the entrance to the sanc
tuary. In addition, His priesthood is implied in the stole
wrapped around Emmanuels chest, and in his performing
the Communion. The concept of Christ who is perform
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106

ing the Celestial Liturgy is further emphasized through a


portrayal of the procession of angels in the upper zone of
the walls of the bema.104
In the bema in the church of St. Sophia in Kiev, the litur
gical connotations are stressed by the inclusion of angeldeacons who are shown holding liturgical fans and assis
ting Christ. In addition, as mentioned earlier, Christ is also
rendered as priest in the medallion on the transverse arch
between the bema and the dome. Thus, Christ-Priest in
Kiev serves as a linking point between the programs of the
bema and the dome.105
The bema at Nerezi is also highly liturgical in its content.
However, unlike these earlier monuments, the two spheres
of liturgical action, the terrestrial and the celestial, are clear
ly separated at Nerezi. While the program of the bema at
Nerezi emphasizes the terrestrial rite, particularly evident
in the inclusion of the procession of officiating bishops, the
domes are dedicated solely to the liturgy performed in the
celestial sphere. A clear distinction between the two realms
in which liturgical action happens, apparent at Nerezi, be
came a standard feature of later, Palaiologan art, thus estab
lishing the impact of Nerezis innovative iconography.

4. A Possible Reconstruction of the Program


of the Central Dome
The liturgically charged and unified iconography of
the subsidiary cupolas at Nerezi suggests that the central
cupola, too, was liturgical in its content. This is further
confirmed by the composition of the angels, since they are
all oriented towards the central cupola. Although its exact
iconography is impossible to reconstruct, some elements
of the decoration of the central cupola can be deduced
from the program of the subsidiary domes and from the
iconography of the surviving twelfth-century domes in
Byzantium. In the majority of the twelfth-century Byzan
tine domes, the central medallion displays either the Pan
tokrator, or the image of the enthroned Christ. Judging
solely on the basis of the available space at Nerezi, the
choice of the Pantokrator, similar to the one re-painted in
the sixteenth century, seems more plausible (pls. 8a, 8b;
figs. VIII, IX). The angels, too, were a common choice at
the time. Shown in a variety of attires - from white robes
which recall deacons sticharia, to imperial garbs - the an
gels are shown in a variety of postures, alone or aided by
the presence of the Virgin and St. John.106The Hetoimasia,

Gouillard, Synodikon (see footnote 58), pp. 72-74.


See Sinos, Die Klosterkirche (see footnote 51), pl. 13; figs. 141-145.
See Sinos, Die Klosterkirche (see footnote 51), pl. 13; figs. 141-145.
The appearance of the archangels and the image of the Virgin Orans may suggest Last Judgment or Deesis connotations as was popular at the time;
yet it is tentative.
For Veljusa, see Miljkovi-Pepek, Veljusa (see footnote 50), pp. 192-196, 204-206. For H. Stephanos, see Pelekanides and Chatzidakis, Kastoria
(see footnote 10), p. 8, figs. 9, 18, 19.
For a discussion and earlier bibliography, see Lidov, LImage du Christ-prlat (see footnote 93), pp. 245-250.
See ibid. For the relationship between twelfth-century domical vaults and the bema programs, see also Hadermann-Misguich, Fresques de
Chypre (see footnote 77), pp. 43-49.
Lidov, LImage du Christ-prlat (see footnote 93), pp. 245-250.
For bibliography, see footnote 77.

Chapter III

44
or the prepared Throne, is also frequently a part of the
twelfth-century domical decoration. On the basis of indi
vidual iconographic features, the programs of the domes
have been interpreted either as referring to the Last Judg
ment or, when the prepared Throne is included, as sym
bolizing the prayer of the anamnesis.107 Explicit liturgical
action, and clear references to the Divine Liturgy are,
however, conspicuously absent in the surviving twelfthcentury monuments.
It is quite possible that liturgy was actually represented
in the central cupola at Nerezi. The processional motion
and liturgical attributes of the angels in the subsidiary
domes, suggest that angels enacting liturgy were also rep
resented in the central dome. Moreover, since the proces
sions of the angels in the side domes are oriented towards
the central dome, the central cupola at Nerezi most likely
once defined the focus of the angels action and the mo
ment of the liturgy which they were celebrating. After all,
if the subsidiary domes at Nerezi rendered the highest de
gree of liturgical realism known thus far to Byzantium, the
central dome must have done it too. Thus, the central
dome at Nerezi may have represented the unique example
and a significant stage in the development of the scene of
the Divine Liturgy, unseen in any of the surviving twelfthcentury domes, yet popular in later, Palaiologan monu
ments.
The bema and the domes at Nerezi functioned in tan
dem, an illustration of the Byzantine belief that the ter
restrial liturgy represents a mirror image of the sacred cos
mic rite, presided over by Christ himself. The program of
the subsidiary domes at Nerezi is also intimately related to
the images represented on the walls of their respective
chapels to which we will now turn.

arches which emulate marble, and occupying the entire


width of their respective walls (pls. 12, 14; fig. XXX). The
attire of bishops in the side chapels compares to that of the
bishops in the bema; however, they are carrying closed
books, and are shown frontally, still and iconic in their
appearance.108
The prominence given to bishops in the eastern chapels
provides a link with the program of the bema. Placed both
in the chapels, and in the passages linking the bema with
subsidiary chapels, the bishops in the side chapels expand
the procession of the bema (Pls. 13, 15; figs. XXVIII; 17,
28-30). For example, the medallion of the bust of the
frontally shown St. Spyridon, located on the west wall of
the passage from the bema into the prothesis, faces the
standing figure of St. Epiphanios of Cyprus who is offici
ating in the procession (pl. 13; figs. 19, XXVIII).109
A decision to use the passageways to extend the proces
sion of officiating bishops while at the same time intro
ducing the still, iconic images in the side chapels is intrigu
ing. On the one hand, the iconic images of bishops in the
passageways indicate that the liturgical procession of bish
ops in the bema is brought to a halt in the side chapels. If
the bema is the place of action, the postures and gestures of
the bishops in the side chapels suggest the place for con
templation. On the other hand, however, the prominence
given to holy bishops in the side chapels suggests that they
may have been used to further the ideological statement
clearly communicated in the bema. The doctrinal challenge
imposed by heretics during the Church Councils was,
after all, defended and formulated by the church fathers.
One is thus tempted to speculate that numerous bishops
portrayed in the sanctuary, selected from various sees, and
led by the two supremely honored authors of the liturgy,
St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, were intended to per
suade the viewer of the eternal strength and unity of the
Byzantine church.

EASTERN CHAPELS
The eastern chapels form the prothesis (north-east) and diakonikon (south-east) of the sanctuary, and are spatially
and programmatically connected with each other and with
the bema. The chapels exhibit similar iconography (pls. 12,
14; figs. XXVI-XXXI; 27-35). Unified through the litur
gical themes of their cupolas, both chapels also exhibit a
large number of bishops and focus the viewers attention
on the images represented in the eastern niches: the Virgin
in the pro thesis and St. John the Baptist in the diakonikon
(figs. XXVI; 27, 31). The arrangement of the bishops in the
uppermost zone of the chapels is identical. They are shown
as larger than life-size figures, standing beneath painted

1. The Prothesis
The presence of the bishops is made particularly promi
nent in the prothesis (pl. 12; figs. XXVI-XXVIII; 28-30).
With the exception of the dome and the eastern niche, all
of the images in the prothesis display holy bishops. While
the standing bishops in the uppermost zone have been
considerably damaged, the remaining seven bishops are
well preserved, portrayed as busts, and carefully framed.
St. Modestos is represented in a separate niche on the
north wall (fig. XXVII), and St. Spyridon (fig. XXVIII),
St. Antipas of Pergamos (fig. 30), St. Eleutherios, St. Par-

107 Ibid.
108 None of the bishops in the prothesis is fully preserved. The bishop on the west wall is completely obliterated, and only portions of the garments of
the other bishops have been preserved. In the diakonikon, the bishops on the north and south walls are fully preserved, the head of the bishop on
the east wall is missing, and only the bottom of the phelonion and epitrachellion of the bishop on the west wall is preserved. The preserved bish
ops are shown as blessing with the right hand, while holding a closed book in the left. The arches framing their heads are decorated with heartshaped stylized palmettes.
109 St. Spyridon, inscribed as , is shown against an ocher medallion, dressed in a bishops attire, holding a closed book, and wearing
his distinctive attribute, a mat-rush shepherds cap.

Chapter III
thenios, and two unidentified bishops are represented in
medallions (pls. 12, 13; fig. 28, ).110 Most notably, the busts
of St. Polycarpos of Smyrna and of an unidentified bishop
are enclosed in small, rectangular frames with a painted
hook at the top resembling actual hanging icons (pl. 12;
fig. 29).111
A distinctive framing of bishops with arcades (upper
most zone), medallions, and small rectangular frames, cer
tainly distinguishes their importance. Although all three
methods of framing originated in ancient and Hellenistic
art and were adopted in the decoration of Byzantine
churches, frequent occurrence of painted rectangular icons
is a characteristic of the post-iconoclastic period. These
painted icons imitate the portable panel paintings, such as
actual icons of the holy bishops, which were attached to
the walls of the sanctuary. Exhibiting holy bishops, or
other important holy dignitaries, painted icons were fre
quently displayed in the bema.112Aware of the original lo
cation of these icons, the patron of Nerezi seemingly de
cided to display the hanging portraits of the bishops in the
prothesis in order to establish yet another link between the
two architectural sections of the church, the bema and the
side chapels.
Another link between the bema and the prothesis is es
tablished through the portrayal of the Virgin. Distin
guished by the placement in the niche on the east wall, the
Virgin is depicted as a youthful, half-length figure, dressed
traditionally in a blue robe and purple maphorion; her
arms are raised in prayer, resembling the type of the Virgin
Orans (figs. XXVI; 27). It is Emmanuel, God-with-us, de
picted in the summit of the chapel, who accepts the prayers
of the Virgin and, consequently, of the entire choir of bish
ops (fig. XXI). The hopes for salvation expressed in secret
prayers portrayed on the scrolls of the officiating bishops
in the bema, are to be fulfilled through the intercessory
powers of the Virgin.
The link between Emmanuel and the Virgin is further
stressed through the portrayal of deacons who, like the
angel-deacons above, carry censers in their right hands,
and a pyxis with the liturgical host in the left (pl. 12). In
earlier programs, prior to the introduction of the proces
sion of officiating bishops, deacons commonly accom
panied the standing bishops in the bema. Thus, their rendi

45
tion in the side chapels further emphasizes the link be
tween the two architectural units. Notably distinguishing
the program of the bema and the domes from that of the
side chapels, however, is the dynamics of action. While the
frontal and still images of the Virgin, deacons, and the
bishops in the side chapels only symbolize the liturgical
rite, the angels in the drums, and the apostles and the bish
ops in the bema are enacting it. The static character of im
ages in the prothesis is intentional. The timeless image of
the Virgin works as intercessor between the realm of hu
man and divine, and her still, frontal, and iconic appearance
emphasizes the notion of prayer and contemplation as an
avenue to salvation.

2. The Diakonikon
The same message and the same distinction between sym
bolic and ritualistic is seen in the iconography of the di
akonikon. The diakonikon appears to be a mirror image of
the prothesis. However, the medallion of the dome ex
hibits the image of the Ancient of Days, the eastern niche
displays St. John the Baptist, and the representations of
bishops are combined with the images of holy physicians
(pls. 14,15; figs. XXIX-XXXIII; 31-35). All these iconographic differences further emphasize the theme of inter
cession.
The focus of the decoration of the lower section of the
diakonikon, the image of St. John the Baptist in the eastern
niche, provides a parallel to the Virgin in the prothesis
(pl. 14; fig. 31). Representing the last prophet of the Old
Testament, and the first saint of the New Testament,
St. John is assigned a high position within the celestial hi
erarchy. He is the one who announced Christ and who
baptized him. Moreover, according to the teachings of
the Orthodox Church, it is St. John who, along with the
Virgin, intercedes before Christ on behalf of mankind on
the day of the Last Judgment. Consequently, St. John the
Baptist is commonly represented several times within
church programs, his images included in scenes such as the
Deesis, the Last Judgment, and the Baptism, and promi
nently displayed as separate icons in liturgically important
sections of the church, such as the sanctuary chapels.113

110 St. Modestos, inscribed as () , is set against a blue background and distinguished by ornament. St. Antipas (green medallion), in
scribed as , and St. Eleutherios (ocher medallion), inscribed as , are depicted as facing each other on the north
and south walls of the passageways which link the prothesis with the naos. Of the three medallions within the chapel, only bishop Parthenios of
Lampsacos (ocher medallion) is identified by an inscription; it reads ()(). The two anonymous bishops, shown as old men against
ocher and green backgrounds on the east and south walls, respectively, are well preserved.
111 The image of the unidentified bishop is considerably damaged; remaining are only a small portion of his face, his attire, and three letters of his name
in the inscription: (.)(...); St. Polycarpos of Smyrna is fully preserved and set against a deep red background. His inscription reads
() .
112 Examples are found in St. Sophia, Ohrid, Monastery of St. Cyril, Kiev, Bakovo, Djurdjevi Stubovi, Studenica, as well as in the churches of Geor
gia and Mistra. For a discussion and examples of painted icons, see E. C. Schwartz, Painted Pictures of Pictures: The Imitation of Icons in Fresco,
in: Fourth Annual Byzantine Studies Conference. Abstracts (Ann Arbor, MI, 1978), pp. 3 3 -3 4 ; I. Akrabova, Za okachenite portreti v zhivopista
na edna crkva ot XII vek, Razkopki i prouchvanii 4 (1949): 1 -1 6 ; I. Djordjevi, O fresko ikonama kod Srba u srednjem veku, ZLU 14 (1978):
77-99; A. Grabar, Lapeinture religieuse en Bulgarie (Paris, 1928), p.59; and T. Velmans, Rayonnement de icone au X IIe et au dbut du X IIIe
sicle, in: XVe congrs, pp.200-204.
113 Among the churches antedating Nerezi which show St. John in the sanctuary chapels are St. Sophia in Ohrid where he is depicted in the diakonikon,
and Daphni, which exhibits his image in the prothesis. For a discussion on the cult of St. John, see M. Tati-Djuri, Ikona Jovana Krilatog iz
Deana, Zbornik Narodnog muzeja 7 (1973): 3 9 -5 1.

46
At Nerezi, St. John is represented as a hermit, with long
brown hair, dark beard, and a camel-hair costume (fig. 31).
He is flanked by two deacons (figs. 31, 32), older in their
appearance, yet having the same function, holding the
same liturgical objects and vested comparably to the
deacons who surround the Virgin in the prothesis.
The inscription on St. Johns roll is from Mt. 3, 2; it
reads: Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at
hand.114 The inscription on St. Johns roll appears,
among the extant monuments, for the first time at
Nerezi; it has became standard in later art, however.115
The choice of the text from St. Matthews Gospel on
St. Johns roll becomes more meaningful when viewed
within its context. While the placement of St. John in the
vicinity of the sanctuary and below the image of Christ in
the dome emphasizes his role as the one who announced
the first coming of Christ, the verses on his scroll remind
us of the Second Coming and the Last Judgment. Know
ing the high ranking of St. John in the celestial hierarchy,
the inclusion of the text which recalls his divine powers,
amplifies the notion of the intercessory role of the saint.
The intercessory powers of St. John, communicated in the
diakonikon at Nerezi, relate to the role of the Virgin Orans in
the prothesis. United in their supplicatory prayers before
Christ, the two images transcend the architectural barriers of
the sanctuary, forming the iconography of the Deesis.116
2.1. The Holy Physicians
The theme of intercession is further emphasized in the di
akonikon through the inclusion of the holy physicians.

Chapter III
Apart from the bishops in the upper zone and a full length
standing figure of an unidentified saint on the south wall
(fig. XXXI),117the remaining saints are all known for their
healing skills (figs. XXXII, XXXIII; 33-35). All of the
physicians are rendered in medallions. The medallions of
St. Kyros and St. John are located above the passages on
the north and west walls respectively (pl. 14; figs. 33, 34);
the medallions of St. Kosmas and St. Damianos are shown
as facing each other on the walls of the passages between
the diakonikon and the naos (pl. 15; figs. XXXII, XXXIII);
and the medallion of St. Sampson is placed on the west wall
of the passageway between the diakonikon and the bema
(pl. 15; fig. 35).118 While Sts. Kosmas, Damianos, Kyros
and John were well known for their miraculous cures,
St. Sampson was supposedly a priest, the founder of a
Constantinopolitan hospital in the sixth century, and the
patron of physicians in Byzantium.119The holy physicians
are located in close proximity to the patron saint of the
church, St. Panteleimon, also renowned for his miraculous
cures and represented on the proskynetarion flanking the
south side of the iconostasis (figs. XXXIV, XLIX; 83).
The placement of physician saints in sanctuaries is un
usual in Byzantine art. Prior to Nerezi, holy physicians are
found only in the bema of Panagia ton Chalkeon, Thessa
loniki, and in the diakonikon of the church of St. Sophia,
Ohrid.120The prominent placement of the holy physicians
in Macedonian churches suggests their popularity in the
region. Holy physicians were particularly venerated by
St. Clement of Ohrid, an important Macedonian writer
and clergyman, who built churches in their honor and had
their portraits painted in his foundations.121 Thus, as with

114 ; ( ).
115 The text from the Gospel of St. John 1 , 2 was much more prominent in earlier art; it has been frequently inscribed on the scroll of St. John since the
tenth century. See Tati-Djuri, Ikona Jovana Krilatog (see footnote 113), pp. 3 9 -5 1.
116 The image of the Deesis acquired a number of meanings in Byzantium. Within the context of the decoration of Nerezi, its intercessory connota
tions are apparent. For the intercessory and other meanings of the Deesis, see A. Cutler, Under the Sign of the Deesis: On the Question of Rep
resentativeness in Medieval Art and Literature, DOP 41 (1987): 145-154; C. Walter, Two Notes on the Deesis, REB 26 (1968): 3 11-336; Idem,
Further Notes on the Deesis, REB 28 (1970): 161 -187; and A. W. Carr, Gospel Frontispieces from the Comnenian Period, Gesta 21/1 (1982):
6-7.
117 The unknown saint is shown as a full length, standing figure, occupying the width of the entire south wall. He is portrayed as a mature man with
brownish-gray hair and a short oval beard, dressed in priestly robes consisting of a sticharion, a light brown phelonion, epitrachelion and epimanikia. He carries a gold-ornamented book in his left hand, while blessing with the right.
118 St. Kyros, inscribed as , is dressed in a grayish-white tunic and a green cloak decorated - unusually so - with fur at the borders; he
holds a white jar in his left hand, and his medallion is ocher. St. John, inscribed as O A IOO, that is () (), is dressed in martyrs at
tire, consisting of a white tunic with ornamented cuffs, another, looser, light-blue tunic, richly ornamented with golden embroidery around the neck
and shoulders, and a red chlamys tied on his arm with a brooch. He is holding a cross in his right hand and a medical box in the left; his medallion
is green. His identifying inscription displays two Greek letters Omicron (OO) instead of Omega (). The two Omicrons are joined together, re
sembling the form of the Omega as written in miniscule bookhands. For the bibliography on the saints, see ODB, Vol. 1, p. 1164. St. Damianos, iden
tified by inscription as , is represented against a brick-colored background, holding a scroll with both hands. His attire ressembles the priestly robes of the unidentified saint on the south wall and of St. Sampson. He wears a red tunic with golden ornamented cuffs, an
epitrachellion; a white robe with wide sleeves over the tunic; and a grayish-green mantle. St. Kosmas, identified as , exhibits simi
lar facial features and the attire as St. Damianos, except that both his tunic and his mantle are brownish-purple and he is set against a green back
ground; the lower parts of his medallion, however, are destroyed. There were three pairs of Sts. Kosmas and Damianos: from Asia (Nov. 1); from
Arabia (October 17); and from Rome (July 1). The iconographic features of the saints at Nerezi distinguish them as the brothers from Asia. For a
discussion and bibliography, see ODB, Vol. 2, p. 1151; A. Xyngopoulos, To Anaglyphon tn Hagin Anargyrn eis ton Hagion Markon ts Venetias, Deltion 20 (1965): 8 4 -9 5 ; and Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (see footnote 10), pp.240-243. For the attire worn by physician saints, see
D. Mouriki, The Mosaics of Nea Moni on Chios, 2 Vols. (Athens, 1985), Vol. 1, pp. 151-152.
119 St. Sampson, identified as , is dressed in a yellow sticharion, ornamented epitrachelion, and a brown mantle; he is placed against a
green background.
120 For St. Sophia, see Miljkovi-Pepek, Najstarite svetitelski kultovi vo Makedonija (see footnote 36), p. 22. In Panagia ton Chalkeon, the holy
physicians are placed above the bishops; see K. Kreidl-Papadopoulos, Die Wandmalereien des l l. Jahrhunderts in derKirche Panagia ton Chalkeon
in Thessaloniki (Graz, 1966), pp. 3 4 -3 5 ; fig. 19; and A. Tsitouridou, He Panagia tn Chalken (Thessaloniki, 1975), fig. 33.
121 See Miljkovi-Pepek, Najstarite svetitelski kultovi vo Makedonija (see footnote 36), pp. 11-35.

Chapter III
the choice of embracing apostles in the scene of the Com
munion, the patron of Nerezi, Alexios, appealed yet one
more time to the sentiments of the local audience.

3. Thematic Concerns
The prominence given to physicians also reveals the pri
vate nature of the quest for intercession. While St. John the
Baptist and the Virgin traditionally intercede on behalf of
all mankind on the day of the Last Judgment, the holy
physicians suited both the regional taste and the individual
hope for salvation of the patron. By placing holy physi
cians in close proximity to St. Panteleimon, Alexios clearly
honored not only his holy protector, but also the profes
sion to which he belongs. In return, Alexios most likely
expected the forgiveness of sins and eternal happiness in
the afterlife, a concept common to Byzantine aristocratic
patrons at the time.
The theme of intercession, communicated through the
iconography of the side chapels, emphasizes the experien
tial character of the program of the sanctuary and invites
the viewer to participate in the acts portrayed. Reflecting
the program of the bema, the bishops in the prothesis
address the Emmanuel, wGod with us, in the flesh,
channeling their prayers through the Virgin Orans. Also
responding to the notion of the bema that the flesh of
the Eucharist, the Emmanuel, is the flesh which was
born, died, resurrected and ascended into heaven, is the
image of the Ancient of Days, prefiguring the Second
Coming of Christ in the diakonikon. He is addressed on
behalf of humankind by St. John the Baptist, and by four
holy physicians, whose importance is distinguished by
their grouping within the chapel and by their proximity
to the patron saint of the church.
Both the prominence given to the intercessory powers
of the Virgin, Christ, and holy physicians, and the em
phasis on the salvific mission of Christ, reflect the per
sonal desires and aspirations of the patron. On the one
hand, the program reflects Alexios as a private individual,
a typical member of Komnenian aristocracy who placed
his eternal destiny into the hands of the protector saint of
his foundation as was customary at the time. On the
other hand, the concept that Christ is both human Godwith-us, in the Eucharist, and divine member of the
Holy Trinity in the Heaven, emphasized through the in
clusion of the two hypostasis of Christ - Emmanuel and
Ancient of Days - reflects the most recent theological de
bates and distinguishes both Alexios intellectual pre
occupations and his close link with his cousin, emperor
Manuel I.
The consequences of the close association between the
emperor and his cousin are also reflected in the program of
the naos.

47
NAOS: SCENES
The preserved Christological cycle of the naos at Nerezi is
composed of nine monumental scenes, displayed above
the zone of the saints and reaching up to the springing
point of the arches (pl . 8a, 8b; figs.VII, VIII, XXXVXLII, XLIV-XLVI, XLVIII). Most of the surviving
scenes at Nerezi occupy the entire width of their respec
tive walls.122 Carefully coordinated with each other and in
tegrated with the architecture, the preserved scenes make
the upper zone of the naos complete. They are confined to
their respective walls and appear like monumental icons,
almost overwhelming the modest dimensions of the inte
rior. The imposing size and prominent position of these
scenes within the church suggests that they were the carri
ers of the iconographic message of the naos. Thus, despite
the loss of the program in the uppermost areas of the
church, the preserved scenes provide a significant insight
into interpreting the message of the cycle.
The distribution of scenes follows the chronological
order, starting with the events from Christs childhood on
the south wall and progressing clockwise, as was custom
ary at the time. The selection and composition of the
scenes, however, are governed by programmatic concerns,
more precisely by the intention to unify the space around
the theme of the human sacrifice of Christ announced in
the sanctuary. The unified message of the program of the
naos is achieved through a powerful compositional device:
the juxtaposition of scenes across the facing walls. The
pairs of monumental scenes echo one another across the
naos, creating a spiritual environment, Christological in its
content and participatory in its nature. Thus, instead of ex
amining the scenes in a successive manner, as has tradi
tionally been done in scholarship, I will follow the intent
of the designer of the program and examine the painted cy
cle in the naos as it develops in space.

1. The Annunciation
The Christological cycle opens, as was customary at the
time, with the scene of the Annunciation (figs. XXXIVXXXVI). Its main protagonists, the Virgin and the arch
angel Gabriel, are rendered at the outermost fringes of the
east wall. Thus, the Annunciation, a potent image of the
Incarnation of Christ, almost serves as a m ise-en-scne for
the central icon of Christs humanity, the timeless image of
the Virgin and Christ represented in the center of the
bema. The Virgin and the archangel are shown wide apart
from each other, separated by the iconostasis and the
proskynetaria icons (fig. XXXIV). The physical distance
between the two is, however, bridged by their motions and
gestures. The preserved fragments of the archangel re
veal fluttering drapery and motion towards the Virgin

122 Only the Birth and the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple share the space of the west wall; yet they are no smaller than the majority of other
scenes. All scenes are framed with a red border.

Chapter III

48
(fig. XXXV).123 Although represented frontally and erect,
the Virgin, standing before a throne and in front of a
building, is placed slightly off-center to the south side of
the designated field, her head leaning towards Gabriel
(fig. XXXVI).124The gesturing of Mary and Gabriel is jux
taposed to the still symmetry of the en fa ce proskynetaria
icons, emphasizing the communication between the
figures and, despite the spatial gap, giving unity to the
scene.
In its basic iconography, the scene of the Annunciation
corresponds to other contemporary renditions of the
scene. The spatial unity established between the figures be
came a familiar device by the twelfth century. Also com
mon at the time is the Virgins submission to the divine
calling and the intimacy of the scene.125 The Virgins
submissive attitude is evident from the inscription (Lk. 1,
38), Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be unto me ac
cording to thy word.126 It is also visually accented by her
gesture, the Virgins right hand resting on her chest with
open palm, while she passively holds the distaff in the left.
The formality of the standing Virgin, characteristic of
post-iconoclastic renditions, is softened by the inclusion
of a genre element, a small woven basket filled with a
distaff and purple wool and placed near the Virgins foot
stool. Incidentally, a very similar basket is represented in
the scenes of the Deposition and the Threnos, the latter re
vealing, however, the instruments of Christs Passion
(fig. 48). One wonders whether this iconographie detail
was intentionally represented to emphasize the redemp
tive significance of the Incarnation by associating Christs
Incarnation with His sacrifice.
The major iconographic novelty of the Annunciation at
Nerezi is the representation of a garden, shown as two
stylized trees enclosed in a white fence. Based on the Song
of Solomon (4,12) and representing a metaphor of beauty,
the closed garden was related to Mary of the Annuncia
tion as a symbol of her Virginity.127The motif of the closed
garden appears for the first time in the surviving monu

mental art of Byzantium at Nerezi.128 The depiction of the


closed garden epitomizes the poetic mood introduced in
twelfth-century art in general and sets the tone of the pro
gram of the naos at Nerezi as will be shown below.

2. The Presentation and the Threnos


While the Annunciation appears to be confined to mar
ginal points of the church, the scenes of the Presentation
and the Threnos cover the most extensive wall surfaces, the
entire upper zone of the south and north walls of the arms
of the cross respectively (pls. 8 a, 8 b, 16, 22; VIII, X, XI).
Corresponding in their shape, size, and theological mes
sage, these two scenes dominate and unify the space of the
naos. In their message, the scenes develop important no
tions about the inseparable, dual natures of Christ, who
offers and is offered in the Eucharist, and whose sacrifice
is re-enacted throughout the liturgy. These were the con
cepts fervently argued in contemporary theological dis
putes.
2.1. The Presentation: Origin, Meaning,
and Visual Representations
The Presentation, as narrated by St. Luke, concerns the
meeting in the Temple between the Holy Family and the
priest Symeon. Symeon was inspired by the Holy Ghost to
recognize the Child as the Savior sent by God, and his
song of praise was followed by the witness of the aged
prophetess Anna.129St. Lukes story relates to the Old Tes
tament. In conformity with the Jewish tradition by which
the first-born belongs to Yahweh and his consecration is to
be accompanied with the offerings of animals, Jesus was
presented to the Lord, and sacrificial pigeons offered to re
lease him from service in the Temple.130Moreover, St. Luke
also combines the presentation of the child with the pu
rification of the mother, a rite which according to the Law

123 Only three fragments have been preserved from the figure of the archangel: 1) his right hand and arm and a small segment of the torso with the
upper part of his right leg veiled in drapery; 2) a small segment of his agitated drapery surrounded with blue background; 3) and his right foot par
tially covered with his robes and set against the green background. The stretches of the red border which once designated the rectangular field oc
cupied by the angel are also discernible. The preserved fragments indicate that the archangel was rendered in profile, the agitation of his drapery,
the positioning of his foot, as well as the gesture of his right hand revealing that he was once shown as moving towards the Virgin.
124 The upper portions of the scene, as well as most of the head of the Virgin is missing. Damage was also inflicted on the lower portions of her robe
and surrounding architecture. The Virgin, standing on the footrest of the throne, is dressed in a blue robe and a purple maphorion. Behind her are
the richly ornamented backless throne, topped with a purple pillow and covered with a white cloth which hides a large portion of the throne.
Behind and to the south of the Virgin is the facade of a building, now discernible through its ornamented reddish base, the purple curtain tied at
the south side of the entrance, a portion of the architrave decorated with a pyramidal ornament, and a small section of a green tympanum; the upper
portions of the building are defaced. To the north of the Virgin is a wall topped with a white fence made of crossed bars which encloses two
stylized trees.
125 For the general development of the iconography of the Annunciation and other Christological scenes at Nerezi, see appropriate entries in ODB,
RBK, Millet, Recherches sur iconographie de levangelie aux XIVe, XVe et XVIe sicles (Paris, 1960), and G. Schiller, Iconography of Christian Art,
2 Vols. (Greenwich, CT, 1971-1972). For the major characteristics of the representations of the Annunciation in the twelfth century, see Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (see footnote 10), pp. 96-103; and H. Maguire, Art and Eloquence in Byzantium (Princeton, 1981), pp. 44-52.
126 The inscription, once located in the upper-left corner of the composition is almost entirely lost. The remaining letters, MOI KA(T)ATO P(HMA)
(), indicate a verse from St. Luke 1, 38, .
127 For the impact of the Song of Solomon on the portrayal of the closed garden see S. Radoji, Odjek Pesme nad pesmama u srpskoj umetnosti
XIII veka, in: Odabrani lanci i studije 1933-1978 (Belgrade, 1982), pp. 230-232.
128 For the appearance of this motif in art, see Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 48-52.
129 Lk. 2, 29-39.
130 Ex. 13 ,2 ,12 -1 4 ; Nm. 18, 15.

Chapter III
of Moses was to be performed on the fortieth day after the
birth of the child.131
The multiplicity of ideas contained in this important
event provided rich soil for a variety of visual representa
tions. During the Middle Byzantine period, the composi
tion commonly included only the main protagonists, that
is Joseph with sacrificial pigeons, the Virgin holding the
Christ Child, the priest Symeon, and the prophetess Anna.
Moreover, as of the eleventh century, the altar gained cen
tral position within the scene, separating Christs parents
from the priest and the prophetess, and giving a sense of
strict symmetry to the composition.132 The most innova
tive characteristic of the twelfth century, however, is the
transfer of the Christ Child into the hands of Symeon
accompanied by the sorrowful gesture of the Virgin
which foreshadows her grief at her sons death.133The cen
tralized position of the altar, the representation of Christ
in Symeons arms, as well as the sorrowful gesture of
the Virgin have a common goal: they emphasize the drama
of the event by relating the revelation of the divinity of
Christ to his sacrifice.
The visual connection between the presentation of
Christ and his sacrificial death is based on homiletic liter
ature often included in the liturgy. For example, in the
Kanon read on the feast of the Presentation, the text of
Kosmas the Hymnographer reads: Symeon announced
to the Mother of God, And a sword will pass through
your heart, Immaculate one, when you see your son on the
cross.134 The twelfth-century taste for expressing senti
ments and humanizing religious experience, emerging first
in the homiletic literature and liturgical readings, was thus
reflected in art, too.
While the emotive content plays the major role in the
program of Nerezi, the sentimentally potent image of ten
der embrace between Christ Child and old Symeon is con
spicuously absent. In fact, in its basic outline, the Presen
tation at Nerezi appears archaic. Inheriting the major
characteristics of the eleventh-century representations, the

49
scene displays four major protagonists, symmetrically dis
tributed around the altar, with the Christ Child held firmly
by the Virgin (pl. 16; figs.XXXVII-XXXIX; 36-39).135
Thus, it compares closely to the monuments of the previ
ous century, where the emphasis lies on the ritualistic sac
rifice by the parents which accompanies the birth of the
first-born, as seen, for example in the rendition of the
scene in Nea Moni.136 The archaism of the scene at Nerezi
is, however, deceptive, as suggested by the placement of
the scene and by its iconographic and stylistic subtleties.
2.2. The Presentation: Iconographic Innovations
and Their Significance
Compared to similar renditions of the scene, the Presenta
tion at Nerezi displays several unique and novel features.
First of all, it is distinguished for its solemn, processional
character. The elegant, elongated figures create a rhythm of
pronounced verticals.137 Moreover, the scene at Nerezi
represents a unique example of gender symmetry: the
women are shown on the east side of the altar and men on
the west (figs. XXXVII, XXXVIII). Thus, prophetess
Anna stands behind the Virgin, as opposed to her common
position behind Symeon. In addition, for the first time in
Byzantine monumental art, judging by surviving monu
ments, Anna is represented with her scroll opened and ex
hibiting the text of her prophecy (fig. XXXVIII; 36), This
infant consolidated heaven and earth.138 Above all, the
most distinctly innovative feature of the Presentation at
Nerezi is seen in the robes of the Christ Child. Although
considerably damaged, His attire reveals traces of a stole, a
piece of Christs clothing associated, as discussed above,
with Christs function as a priest (fig. 37).139
All these iconographic innovations at Nerezi are meant
to stress one important aspect of the Presentation: the dra
matic and emotional moment when both Christs divinity
and his future sufferings were recognized. The drama of
the event is communicated by both style and iconography.

131 Lv. 12.


132 For the iconographic development of the scene see note 125 and D. C. Shorr, The Iconographic Development of the Presentation in the Temple,
AB 28 (1946): 17-32. For the renditions of the scene in the Middle Byzantine period, see Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 87-90;
Idem, The Iconography of Symeon with Christ Child in Byzantine A rt, DOP 3 4 -3 5 (1980-81): 2 6 1-2 7 1; Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo
(see footnote 10), Vol. 1, pp. 118-122; and S. Boyd, The Church of the Panagia Amasgou, Monagri, Cyprus, and Its Wall Paintings, DOP 28
(1974): 294-296.
133 See Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 87-90; Idem, The Iconography of Symeon with Christ Child (see footnote 132),
pp.261-271.
134 In addition, the text of the sermon on the Presentation attributed to George of Nikomedeia reads: Mary presses Symeon to explain the meaning
of the prophecy that he makes to her in St. Lukes Gospel (2, 35) and a sword will pierce your own soul also... Symeon gives Mary a full summary
of the events of Christs forthcoming Passion, concluding with the lament for the death of her son. See Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote
125), pp. 87-90; Idem, The Iconography of Symeon with Christ Child (see footnote 132), pp. 261 -2 7 1.
135 Damage inflicted likely from humidity obliterated the upper portions of the scene above and to the west of the figures of Symeon and Joseph, small
segments of the ciborium and Symeons hands, and the lower parts of the bodies of the Virgin and Christ.
136 See Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), pp. 120-121; pls. 15, 143.
137 The architecture in the scene is reduced to a low parapet wall painted in imitation of marble, the ciborium marking the center of the composition,
and the two buildings flanking the composition; the building behind Joseph is almost entirely destroyed.
138 The text reads: . It is also found in twelfth-century manuscripts, such as the Psalter of Queen
Melisende, and in churches post-dating Nerezi, such as Hagioi Anargyroi and Hagios Stephanos in Kastoria, and at Monreale. See H. Buchthal,
Miniature Painting in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (Oxford, 1957), p. 4, pl. 3a; Pelekanides, Kastoria (see footnote 80), pls. 16 b, 92 b; and
O. Demus, The Mosaics of Norman Sicily (London, 1949), fig. 62 b.
139 The stole, as it appears today, is wrapped around Christs waist and tied in a knot with triple ending. For a discussion, see Lidov, LImage du Christprlat (see footnote 93), pp. 245-250.

Chapter III

50
Despite their processional and solemn character, the partic
ipants of the Presentation are invigorated through a careful
psychological characterization. The submissive, intro
spective expression of Joseph (fig. 39), projecting through
his melancholic, watery eyes, and his peaceful stance,
contrasts with the tremor in the appearance of Anna
and Symeon (figs. 36, 38), the wrinkles on their faces
expressing both age and tension.140 The face of the Virgin,
on the other hand, while rendered in perfectly smooth
planes reflecting her young age, lacks the calm and confi
dence exhibited in her portrait in the prothesis (figs. 27, 37).
The tightened lips, concerned look, and slightly slanted
eyebrows reveal her concern, while the unnaturally twisted
head of the Child who tightly grabs his mothers neck,
anticipates the climax of the drama (fig. XXXVIII).141
The drama of the event is defined in Annas scroll which
emphatically proclaims Christs divinity. Her placement
within the composition is significant, too. As opposed to
her regular location behind Symeon, Anna is brought close
to Christ. Thus, Christ is placed between Anna and Sy
meon, the people who recognized His divinity as a Child.
Standing behind Symeon, Joseph appears to be included
mostly for the accuracy of the story and the balance of the
composition. The custom of bringing sacrificial animals to
the church for the first-born child is as peripheral for the
message communicated in the Presentation at Nerezi, as is
Josephs actual position within the scene.

Another issue debated at the Councils and represented


in the scene of the Presentation at Nerezi, can be discerned
from the traces of the stole, which recalls the priestly func
tion of Christ. While appearing within the rendition of the
Presentation for the first time at Nerezi, the notion of the
priesthood of the Child who is presented in the temple is
also found in later twelfth-century art, such as at Lagoudera.143 As discussed earlier, the notion of Christ Priest im
plies that He is the one who sacrifices and is sacrificed, a
concept fervently argued at the Council of Constantinople
in 1156/57. Thus the scene at Nerezi, like the literary
sources on which it was based, unites the themes of
Christs divine revelation with his sacrificial death. This
theme is further stressed through the juxtaposition of the
Presentation with the scene of the Threnos represented on
the facing wall.
The connection established between the scenes of the
Presentation and the Threnos at Nerezi is derived from the
same sources and has the same meaning as the new iconog
raphy of Christ held by Symeon. Both are based on the
vast homiletic literature which relates to Symeons
prophecy (Lk. 2, 35) and the sword will pierce your own
soul also, and both explore the depth of human sorrow
by comparing the mothers joy with the newborn son,
with her grief at the time of His death. The power with
which these sentiments are visualized at Nerezi is un
precedented in Byzantium.

2.3. The Presentation and the Church Councils

2.4. The Threnos: Origin, Meaning,


and Visual Representations

The composition of the figures at Nerezi and the text


inscribed on Annas scroll are both intended to empha
size the notion that Christ, in his human appearance, is a
divine manifestation of God - a concept argued during
the Church Councils in Constantinople. While the em
phasis on Christs divinity appears so powerfully within
the scene of the Presentation for the first time at Nerezi,
it becomes prominent in later art, as evident from the
renditions of the scene in the thirteenth- and fourteenthcentury churches of Panagia Olympiotissa at Elasson,
Protaton on Mount Athos, and the Kings church in
Studenica.142

The Threnos at Nerezi represents one of the most emo


tional renditions of human pain in Byzantium (pl. 22;
figs.XLVI, XLVIII; 47-49). Nowhere else in Byzantine
art are the depth of the Mothers grief and her closeness
to her son conveyed in artistically so articulate and per
suasive a manner as at Nerezi. Saturated with beauty and
sentiments, it reverberates both in later Byzantine monu
ments and in the art of the West all the way to the Re
naissance, as has been often pointed out by scholars.144
Iconographic parallels for this scene are found in both
earlier and later art. However, the powerful, dramatic im-

140 Anna is dressed in a yellow robe and a green mantle and shown as descending the steps, her drapery flowing, while pointing towards Christ with
her raised right hand; she holds the roll in her left hand. Joseph is also shown descending steps, yet not in as energetic a manner as Anna. He is
dressed in a blue chiton and a white himation, and carrying two sacrificial doves in a cage. Symeon, his hair messy, as if blown by a wind, is dressed
in a grayish-green chiton and a white himation enlivened with purple and blue.
141 The Virgin is dressed, as elsewhere in the church, in a purple maphorion and a now mostly destroyed blue robe.
142 In order to emphasize the moment of the recognition of Christs divinity, the artists in these later churches also adjusted the composition and
switched the order of figures. Thus, the composition became asymmetrical, with Anna, placed either before the Virgin (Olympiotissa), or behind
her (Studenica) on one side of the altar, and Symeon, alone, on the other. In all these instances, Joseph is at the periphery of the composition. See
Constantinides, Olympiotissa (see footnote 47), pp. 115-117; figs. 36a; 236; G. Babi, Kraljeva crkva u Studenici (Belgrade, 1987), pp. 143-146;
figs. 97-98; and G. Millet, Monuments de lAthos (Paris, 1927), pl. 10, 3.
143 For Lagoudera, see Stylianou and Stylianou, Painted Churches of Cyprus (see footnote 50), p. 160; fig. 160; for a discussion, see Lidov, Limage du
Christ-prlat (see footnote 93), pp. 245-250. The association between the event of the Presentation and Christs priesthood has been drawn in the
liturgical scroll from the Patriarchal Library in Jerusalem, Staurou 109, where the image of the Presentation illustrates the verses You yourself are the
sacrificing priest and the sacrificial gift; you yourself accept the sacrifice, and are the same time the sacrificial food, Christ our God ... For the image,
see Grabar, Un rouleau liturgique (see footnote 76), fig. 8; for a discussion, see H. J. Schulz, The Byzantine Liturgy (New York, 1986), p. 84.
144 The impact of the Threnos at Nerezi has been traced all the way to Giottos Lamentation in the Arena Chapel in Padua. See F. Hartt, History of
Italian renaissance: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture 4th ed. (New York, 1994), p. 46. For Byzantine influence on the western images of Passion see
A. Derbes, Picturing the Passion in Late Medieval Italy: Narrative Painting, Franciscan Ideologies, and the Levant (Cambridge, 1996).

Chapter III
pact of Nerezis scene is unprecedented. It was the genius
of Nerezis master who created a refined rhythm of
curvilinear forms and subtle coloristic effects which en
hanced the emotional content of the scene. All available
formal modes of expression in this scene were put in
function of its meaning.
The Threnos is the scene which belongs to the cycle
of the Passion of Christ, referring to the lament of the
Virgin over the death of her Son.145 Occurring after the
Deposition and before the burial of Christ, the Threnos
is not, however, mentioned in the synoptic writings. In
stead, its textual bases may be found in the apocryphal
Gospels of Nicodemus and in the vast homiletic lite
rature.146 The iconography of this scene closely corre
sponds to the sermon of George of Nikomedeia on the
burial and death of Christ, included in the liturgy and
read on the eve of Good Friday.147 The sermon gives a
vivid description of the Virgins grief, stating that the
Virgin actually fell upon the body of Christ and bathed
it with warmest tears, and emphasizes her suffering by
recalling the Virgins role during her sons infancy in say
ing I am now holding him without breath whom lately
I took in my arms.148 Imbued with feeling and concen
trating on the image of the Virgin lamenting over the
dead body of her son, the Threnos imposed upon the
viewer further proof of the physical humanity of Christ
(fig.47).
The basic iconography of the Threnos at Nerezi corre
sponds very closely to earlier depictions of the scene seen,
for example, in the late eleventh-century Gospel Lectionary, Vatican gr. 1156 (folio 194 v), and in the cemetery
chapel of the Saviour of the monastery of St. John
Chrysostom, at Koutsovendis (1110-1118).149 The scene is
anchored by the prominent image of the mother embrac
ing and lamenting over her dead son, who is displayed as
lying on a burial shroud decorated with diamond-shaped
pattern (pl. 22; fig. XLVI).150 Other participants include St.
John who is holding Christs hand (fig. 49), Joseph and
Nicodemus who are holding his feet, mourning women
(only one has been preserved), and half-length figures of
four angels.151 The action takes place in a barren landscape,
as suggested by homiletic texts.152

51
2.5. The Threnos: An Icon of Sorrow
While the rendition of the Threnos at Nerezi adheres to es
tablished iconography, the emphasis upon the mothers
grief and a comparison between her holding the dead
Christ with the same passion with which she held him as a
child is more fully explored than in earlier art. The most
notable iconographic novelties at Nerezi are the inclusion
of the instruments of Christs Passion, the multiplication
of angels, and the relocation of the Holy Women. All these
innovations were meant to emphasize the human drama.
The inclusion of two lances placed horizontally besides the
body of Christ and resembling those of the Hetoimasia,
the pitcher with ointment, and a woven basket, reminis
cent of that of the Annunciation, yet displaying pliers,
hammer, and nails of the Crucifixion, are all meant to re
call the sacrificial deeds and salvific mission of Christ
(fig. 48). The multiplication of angels, shown with slanted
eyebrows and deeply shaded under-eye areas shaped as
teardrops, emphasize the ritual aspect of the scene;153 compositionally, they also direct viewers eyes to the central
image - the mother holding her dead son (figs. XLVIII; 47).
The changed location of the mourning women, from
the compositions right as they appear in the earlier mon
uments, to the compositions left, as at Nerezi, also appears
to be a powerful formal device. By flanking the compo
sition to the left, the holy woman at Nerezi are not only
onlookers; they are active participants, facing the tragic
moment and contributing to the unity of the scene.
The viewers attention is also directed towards the cen
tral image through another powerful and innovative com
positional device: a complex rhythm of curvilinear forms
which define action and unite all of the participants. The
descending outline of the hill represented to the west of the
composition echoes the inclined posture of a holy woman,
and the bent, kneeling bodies of Nicodemus and Joseph.
Moreover, the bowing figure of St. John acquires the form
of an elegant arch, his himation descending towards the
neck in the form of an arrow (fig. 49); the curvature is
further extended by the hand of Christ, directing
eyes towards the emotional center of the composition the overlapping faces of the Virgin and her dead son

145 For the meaning of the Threnos, see H. Belting, The Image and Its Public in the Middle Ages. Form and Function of Early Paintings of the Passion
(New Rochelle, NY, 1990), pp. 9 1-12 9; and Idem, An Image and Its Function in the Liturgy: The Man of Sorrows in Byzantium, DOP 34/35
(1980-81): 1-17.
146 See Belting, The Image and Its Public (see footnote 145), pp. 99-103; and Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 96-101.
147 Ibid.
148 Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), p. 98.
149 For the iconographic development of the scene of the Threnos, see K. Weitzmann, The Origin of the Threnos, in: Essays in Honor of Erwin
Panofsky, 2 Vols., ed. by M. Meiss (New York, 1961), Vol. 1, pp.476-491. For Vatican gr. 1156, see ibid., Vol.2, p. 166, fig. 16; for the chapel, see
Stylianou and Stylianou, Painted Churches on Cyprus (see footnote 50), p. 464, figs. 277-278.
150 Despite damage in the upper-west and easternmost sections, the scene is relatively well preserved with all major iconographic constituencies intact.
Missing are only the uppermost portions of the hill with a cave, small segments of Nicodemus and Joseph, the fourth angel discernible only through
a small segment of robes, and portions of two mourning women. The Virgin is dressed in a blue robe and a purple maphorion; Christ wears only a
loin cloth which reaches to his knees.
151 St. John is dressed in grey, blue, and white robes. Nicodemus is wearing a blue garment; Joseph is dressed in a yellow chiton and a blue himation.
The most seriously damaged are the two figures of the mourning women, only a fragment of the reddish robe surviving from the left figure.
152 For symbolism of the barren landscape, see Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 96-101.
153 Only two angels are shown in the earlier renditions of the scene.

52
(figs. XLVI, XLVIII; 47). The whole group is arranged in
a dynamic pattern, with all figures firmly interlocked.
For the first time in surviving renditions of the scene,
the participants of the Threnos at Nerezi are unified
in their gesture, posture, and tragedy.
The portrayal of the mourning mother represents the
emotional pinnacle of the scene. Her pain is visualized
with such persuasiveness that it transcends the realm of the
psychological and acquires a physical dimension, too. The
grief of the Virgin is accentuated through the juxtaposition
of her dramatic appearance - her eyebrows slanted, her
face wrinkled in pain, and the shadows underneath the
eyes forming teardrops - with the peaceful, relaxed, and
emotionally detached appearance of Christ (fig. 47). The
peacefulness of death and the horror of mourning are fur
ther juxtaposed through the body language (fig. XLVI,
XLVIII). Crawling strenuously, in a physically impossible
posture, with her legs wrapped around the body of Christ
while she embraces him tenderly, the Virgin supports the
weight of Christs languid, elongated and relaxed body
only by the tips of her feet and knee. The powerful image
of mothers grief depicted at Nerezi would have appealed
to contemporary audiences, as it was - and still is - a part
of actual funerals in the Balkans.154 In that part of the
world, the Laments are not only written, spoken, and read
as a part of the ritual. Rather, they are acted out, painfully
loud and intensely emotional - just as is the image at
Nerezi.
2.6. The Juxtaposition of the Threnos
and the Presentation
The tender embrace of the mother and her dead Son in the
Threnos is directly related to the image of the mother
holding her young infant in the scene of the Presentation.
It is almost certain that the somewhat archaic iconography
of Christ being held by Mary in the Presentation was in
tended to emphasize the dramatic connection between the
two major events of the life of Christ, liturgical in their ori
gin, yet deeply human, engaging, and dramatic in their
content. The parallel between the two events is broadened
by the re-location of the holy woman at Threnos at
Nerezi. Flanking the left side of the composition, the holy
woman in the Threnos correspond to the unusual arrange
ment of Anna and the Virgin across the nave in the scene
of the Presentation (figs. VII, VIII, X, XI).
The contrast between the mothers joy with the new
born and her sorrow at His death is further deepened by
pictorial means, particularly by a meaningful use of colors.
The Presentation at Nerezi is one of the most intensively
colored scenes (fig. XXXVII). From the blue background
pop up huge blotches of bright colors of the figures and
furnishings. In the center, a large surface of red of the altar

Chapter III
table is contrasted with a green baldachino and dark red
steps; to the compositions right, the yellow robe of
St. Anna is juxtaposed with the purple of the Virgins robe;
to the left, Josephs cobalt blue chiton contrasts with his
green, ocher, and white garb. Moreover, green ornamented
accessories, pink buildings, black, white and green marble,
all create a lively coloristic scheme, adding dynamics to
this rather solemn composition. The tension between the
joy of bringing the firstborn into the temple, and the sor
row foreshadowed in the event, is made manifest through
the contrast of a solemn composition and a vivid coloristic
treatment.
While coloristic contrasts characterize the majority of
the scenes at Nerezi, the Threnos as well as the Deposition
are executed by means of tonal gradations (figs.XLV,
XLVI). The palette in these two scenes is much more sub
dued and monochromatic than in the rest of the program.
Ocher, gray-blue, and pastel-blue are dominant colors, oc
casionally so little saturated that they give a water-color
effect, underlining the somber mood of the event. The sor
row is not creating tension any more as in the Presenta
tion; it is made manifest, in action and in color, contri
buting to the dramatic impact of the event. A peculiar
instance of coloristic contrast in the rendition of the
Threnos is provided by the red shoes of the Virgin.
While commonly covering the feet of the Virgin, the
shoes in the Threnos at Nerezi acquire special significance.
Heavily saturated, and strikingly red, they are the only
coloristic element which considerably disturbs the tonal
harmony and an almost water-color appearance of the
scene. The color of the Virgins shoes in Byzantium com
monly varies from purple to cherry-red retaining, how
ever, the same iconographic significance. Thus, the Nerezi
artist was free to chose any shade and any value of purple
or red for the shoes and easily incorporate them in the
coloristic treatment of the scene. However, he decided to
accentuate them - by simply using the heavily saturated,
bright, red which jumps straight at viewers eyes.155
The accentuated red of the shoes becomes an icono
graphic element in the Threnos at Nerezi, borrowed from
real life and adding to the meaning of the scene. According
to literary sources, a new custom was likely introduced in
the courtly rituals during the time of Manuel I. The birth
of the imperial son was proclaimed, among other things,
by displaying purple shoes in the windows of the babys
room, to inform the members of the community of this
important event.156 It is thus quite plausible that the un
usual emphasis on the shoes of the Virgin actually related
to the newly established court-ceremony, using yet an
other visual convention to connect the birth of the new
born with His death. Whether provincial audience knew
about this custom is impossible to say; the ritual was, how
ever, certainly well known to the patron and his associates.

154 See M. Alexiou, The Lament of the Virgin in Byzantine Literature and Modern Greek Folk-Song, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 1 (1975):
111-140.
155 The effect of this accent of red is difficult to perceive in the photographs.
156 The display of the infants shoes is first attested for the birth of Manuel I himself (1118); see Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos (see
footnote 26), p. 244.

Chapter III
2.7. Summary
The Threnos at Nerezi terminates the narrative cycle of
the church, bringing the Christological cycle to its emo
tional peak, with human emotion overshadowing dogma.
And the spectator is left to wonder what the artist, or more
likely, the patron of the church, had in mind. Was the
Threnos meant only to educate and persuade the viewer by
projecting the idea of redemption achieved through the
sacrificial death of Christ? Or was it also intended to make
the viewer pause, to give the viewer an opportunity for
contemplative absorption, for meditations on the Passion
which grew out of an intensified piety, and for identifica
tion with the spiritual demeanor of the persons depicted,
as did the successor of the Threnos, the Western image of
the Piet, so beautifully described by G. Schiller.157
The Threnos and the Presentation at Nerezi function both
as static icons, and as active agents transferring the message
through the space of the beholder. Hovering over the central
area of the naos, the two scenes create a visual environment
which humanizes dogmatic teachings by bringing them close
to the sentiments of the beholders. At the same time, the close
bond between the two scenes summarizes the economy of
salvation, by expressly showing that Christ, who offered
sacrifice, was also sacrificed as human for our sake, a notion
repeatedly mentioned in the liturgy and firmly established in
the Synodikon of the Church Councils at Constantinople.
The persuasiveness of the drama, human, emotional, and
liturgical, appealed to human senses. It persuaded worshipers
in the realism of liturgical re-enactment, while at the same
time visually manifesting the interpretation of the liturgy as
prescribed by the church fathers in Constantinople.
3. The Transfiguration and the Deposition
The unified message of the central area of the church has
been re-enforced by the parallelism established between
the scenes of the Transfiguration and the Deposition on
the west walls of the south and north arms of the cross re
spectively (pls. 8 a, 8 b, 17, 21; fig. VIII).
3.1. The Deposition: Another Emotionally
Charged Icon at Nerezi
The Deposition is another emotionally charged icon at
Nerezi (pl. 21; figs.XLV; 45). Its inclusion in the limited

53
number of monumental scenes in the upper zone of the
walls of the naos is significant, suggesting that the Deposi
tion was given a priority over the canonical scenes belong
ing to the cycle of the Twelve Festivals, such as the Crucifix
ion.158 The reason for such a choice is apparent. The
building of emotional tension, evident in the narrative cycle
at Nerezi, required a scene which harmonized in its inti
macy with the climaxing image of the program, the lamen
ting Virgin of the Threnos. By choosing to give prominence
to the Deposition, the artist relieved himself from the limi
tations imposed by canonical writings, and used all available
visual means to emphasize the drama of Christs sacrifice.
The Deposition carried important significance within the
context of the program at Nerezi. Briefly mentioned in the
synoptic writings, and included in liturgical texts only as a
sermon read during the Liturgy on Good Friday, the Depo
sition was not introduced in Byzantine art until the second
half of the ninth century.159The appearance of the scene co
incided with the restoration of Orthodoxy; it was used
against the iconoclastic opposition to fi gural representa
tions of Christ. The church fathers who defended icons at
tached special significance to the humanity of Christ, using
his sacrificial death as their chief argument.160The emotion
ally saturated image of Christs Passion, the Deposition,
served as a persuasive vehicle in communicating their teach
ings. The humanity of Christ was attacked again, though
differently, in the twelfth-century church disputes. Again,
as evident at Nerezi, the image of the Deposition, experien
tial and painfully real, provided a powerful visual proof of
the truthfulness and immediacy of Christs human sacrifice.
While the iconography of the Deposition at Nerezi ad
heres to earlier representations, the scene is distinguished
from its predecessors by its intensely emotional impact.
Retaining the major participants of the Crucifixion, as was
customary, the scene at Nerezi displays a limited number
of participants (pl. 21; fig.XLV).161 Joseph of Arimathea
and the Virgin are holding the body of the dead Christ
(figs. XLV; 45), while the nails from his feet are detached by
Nicodemus, and his hand is held by St. John.162The details
in the scene include the woven basket which will be filled
with nails in the Threnos, and Josephs sandals. The angels
and Holy Women, evident in many contemporary repre
sentations of the scene, such as in Kurbinovo, St. Neophytos, and Monreale are, however, absent at Nerezi;163 the
narrative content of the event is thus suppressed.

157 Schiller, Iconography (see footnote 125), Vol. 2, p. 174.


158 The Crucifixion was most likely included in the program; yet, judging by the available space, it was given a secondary position.
159 The Deposition of Christ is mentioned in Mt. 27, 59; Mk. 15, 46; Lk. 25, 53; Jn. 19, 38-40. For its inclusion in the liturgy, see Belting, An Image
and Its Function in the Liturgy (see footnote 145), pp. 4 - 6 ; and Weitzmann, The Origin of the Threnos (see footnote 149), p. 480.
160 See J. R. Martin, The Dead Christ on the Cross in Byzantine A rt, in: Late Classical and Medieval Studies in Honor of Albert Mathias Friend, J r.,
ed. by K. Weitzmann (Princeton, 1955), pp. 189-196; and H. Maguire, The Depiction of Sorrow in Middle Byzantine A rt, DOP 31 (1977): 162.
161 The scene is well preserved. The cracks in the wall obliterated only a portion of the Virgins face, small segments of Christs chest and right leg,
St. Johns left eye, and Josephs face. The scene was once inscribed in the upper right corner as ; only three letters, , remain.
Christs monogram, IC XC, still remains above the right arm of the cross.
162 Christ is wearing only a grayish-white loin-cloth as in the Threnos; his armpits reveal traces of hair. The Virgin is wearing her traditional blue robe
and a purple maphorion. St. John is dressed in white robes; Joseph wears a blue chiton and an ocher himation streaked in brown and white; Nicodemus is dressed in an olive-green robe with his left arm and leg exposed.
163 For Kurbinovo, see Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (see footnote 10), fig. 72; for St. Neophytos, see R. Cormack, Writing in Gold: Byzantine
Society and Its Icons (New York, 1985), fig. 98; for Monreale, see Demus, Mosaics of Norman Sicily (see footnote 138), pl. 71B.

Chapter III

54
The emotional impact of the Deposition at Nerezi is en
hanced through pictorial devices and through the body
language of the participants. The Virgin in the Deposition
at Nerezi is not only holding Christs torso, as was cus
tomary in earlier art. She is actually embracing Christ,
while pressing her cheek against Christs as if she were
kissing her dead son (fig. 45).164 The tender embrace be
tween mother and her child recalls the powerful image of
the Threnos, and incorporates the iconic appearance of the
Virgin Eleousa - the Virgin of Sorrow - exhibited for ex
ample, in the famous icon of the Our Lady of Vladimir in
the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.165 The lyrical mood of
the composition is also evident in a subtle gesture of
St. John, his cheek pressing against Christs hand, while his
hands hold it with palpable tenderness, made manifest
through the transparent drapery (fig.XLV). The elegant
and elongated body of St. John also creates the curvature
of the arch which in a refined manner, comparable to that
of the Threnos, unifies the composition; it also directs
viewers eyes towards the emotional center of the scene,
the interlocked heads of the mother and her dead son.
The coloristic treatment of the scene further accentuates
the somber mood of the event (fig.XLV). The tonal
arrangement of deep blue, mauve, brown, and olive-green
is accented only by the beige tone of the body, yellow
haloes, and grayish-white of the draperies. Thus, like the
Threnos on the neighboring wall, the Deposition enabled
the artist to display the image of the dead body of Christ,
a visualization of His mortality imposing upon the viewer
a persuasive image of His human existence. The divine na
ture of Christ, however, is emphasized through the pairing
of the Deposition with the Transfiguration, the theophanic
icon par excellence (fig. VIII).
3.2. The Transfiguration
The story of the Transfiguration, as narrated in the synop
tic Gospels, relates Christs divine revelation to his future
sufferings, as particularly evident in Mt. 17, 22-23. The
Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And
they shall kill him ...166 Fulfilling the Old Testament
prophecy by revealing His divinity, Christ in the Transfig
uration also looks forward to His suffering, the idea visu
alized at Nerezi through the spatial parallelism established
with the scene of the Deposition.
The Transfiguration at Nerezi displays traditional
iconography (pl. 17; figs. XL; 40, 41).167 Symmetrically
composed, the scene is anchored by the central image of
164
165
166
167

Christ in a mandorla, shown standing on the summit of the


central hill and flanked by the prophets Moses and Elijah.168
At the foot of the hills, Christs theophany is witnessed by
three apostles, St. Peter to the compositions right, St. John
in the center, and St. James to the left (figs. 40,41 ).169Desig
nated as a source of light through the sparkling white of his
robes and the outer circle of the mandorla, Christ emanates
rays of light and bestows them upon all participants. The
dramatic impact of the event is manifested in the excited fa
cial expressions and swift movements of the three apostles,
their heads turned towards Christ, and their bodies unbal
anced by the sudden motion. Unlike the barren landscape
of the Deposition, the joyous spirit of the Transfiguration is
visualized through sparse, yet lively vegetation. In addi
tion, the subdued tonality of the Deposition is abandoned
in favor of bright red, yellow, and green accented by lumi
nous white. Thus the contrast between Christs majestic
revelation and his suffering death is made as strong visually
as it is emphasized dogmatically.
3.3. The Juxtaposition of the Transfiguration
and the Deposition
The scenes of the Transfiguration and the Deposition face
the archangel and the Virgin of the Annunciation (pls. 8 a,
8b; figs.VII, VIII), the pairing of the scenes reiterating
major ideas communicated in the central area of the church.
The visual connection established with the Virgin of the
Annunciation emphasizes the notion of the divinity of
Christ in his human appearance. In addition, the juxtaposi
tion of the Deposition with the angel of the Annunciation
and the proskynetarion icon of the Virgin and Christ Child
in the north arm of the cross, illustrate the notion that
Christ was Incarnated and he suffered for our sake. Above
all, this juxtaposition also enhances the emotionally
charged contrast between Virgins role during her sons in
fancy and her grief at her sons death, a powerful dramatic
concept which dominates the central area of the church.

4. The Juxtaposition of the Resurrection


of Lazarus and the Entry into Jerusalem
The ideas communicated through the juxtaposition of
scenes surrounding the domical vault are echoed in other
areas of the naos. The western arm of the cross is domi
nated by the facing scenes of the Resurrection of Lazarus
(south wall) and the Entry into Jerusalem (north wall).170

For the iconographic sources of this gesture, see Maguire, The Depiction of Sorrow (see footnote 160), pp. 162-164.
For a discussion, see Idem, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), p. 102, figs. 95, 97.
The story is narrated in Mt. 17, 1 - 12; Mk. 9, 2 -1 3 ; Lk. 9, 2 8 -4 1.
The entire upper-south section of the scene is defaced, damaging the upper portion of the figure of Elijah and the head and portions of the chest of
Christ.
168 Christ is dressed in luminous white garments streaked in pink. A portion of his monogram, XC, still remains besides a preserved fragment of his
halo. Elijah, represented to the right of Christ is seen only through a remaining portion of his ocher-gray garments. Moses, flanking Christ to the
left is shown as a young, beardless man, dressed in a white chiton streaked in green and a red himation shaded with white.
169 St. Peter is wearing yellow and blue robes; St. Johns garments are white and brown; and St. James is dressed in blue robes, heavily highlighted with white.
170 Both scenes are considerably damaged in their western sections. In the Entry into Jerusalem, Christs disciples, as well as the upper body and face
of Christ are destroyed. In the Resurrection, almost the entire figures of Christ and his disciples and most of the hill are obliterated.

Chapter III
Both scenes are traditional in appearance (pls. 8 a, 8 b, 18,
20; figs. XLI, XLIV; 42, 44). Clearly, the artist was focused
on establishing the parallelism between the two events,
rather than attracting the viewer with their individual
iconographic peculiarities. Unlike the majority of scenes at
Nerezi which display a limited number of participants, the
Resurrection of Lazarus exhibits a narrative character
(pl. 18; figs. XLI; 42). In addition to Lazarus, Martha,
Mary and Christ, the scene also displays three servants, a
group of Jews, and the disciples of Christ.171 Although
customary at the time, the multiplication of figures in the
portrayal of the Resurrection of Lazarus at Nerezi has a
special significance, as it resonates with the crowd which
met Christ and his disciples at the gates of Jerusalem de
picted across the naos.172
A number of compositional devices were employed in
the Resurrection of Lazarus and Entry into Jerusalem to
strengthen the parallelism between the two scenes. For ex
ample, in the Resurrection, Lazarus is placed to the right
side of the composition and approached by Christ from
the left (fig. XLI). More frequently, Christ is depicted on
the opposite side, as seen in other twelfth-century monu
ments, such as in H. Anargyroi in Kastoria, at Kurbinovo,
or at Backovo.173The placement of Christ on the right side
was seemingly intended to provide a closer link between
the Resurrection of Lazarus and the facing icon of the En
try into Jerusalem. As a result of the switched locations,
the images of Christ once faced each other across the naos
(pls. 18, 20; figs. VII, XLI, XLIV). Also facing each other
are the groups of Jews who watch Christs miracle and
those who witness his triumphal entry. The visual parallel
recalls St. Johns Gospel, which maintains that the same
people who saw Christ raising Lazarus welcomed him to
Jerusalem.174
The parallelism between the two scenes is evident in
many other details: the prostrated posture of the Lazarus
sisters is echoed across the nave in the children who are
spreading the carpet to greet Christ; Christ in both scenes
was once accompanied by apostles; and even the hills in
the two scenes compare in their form, size, and color.
Moreover, the drama of both events is accentuated by a
dominating diagonal line created by the outlines of the
corresponding hills, and separating the world of the divine

55
from mortals. The parallelism between the two events was
thus undoubtedly intentional.
The reason for the pairing of the Resurrection of
Lazarus and the Entry into Jerusalem becomes apparent
when viewed within the context of the program of
the church as a whole. The story of the Resurrection of
Lazarus is found only in the Gospel of St. John, where
St.John reports that Christ accepted the invitation of
Mary and Martha to come to Bethany, revealed himself as
the resurrection of life to Martha, and raised Lazarus from
the grave.175 Celebrating the power of Christ over death,
prefiguring the Resurrection of Christ and the resurrec
tion of the dead at the time of the Last Judgment, and em
bodying the peoples hopes of the resurrection and eternal
life, the Raising of Lazarus is considered one of the most
significant miracles performed by Christ.176Within the se
lected number of scenes displayed in the upper zone of the
walls at Nerezi, this event epitomizes all of Christs mirac
ulous deeds.
The Entry into Jerusalem, on the other hand, is an
nounced by the prophet Zechariah (Zec 9, 9), alluded to in
Psalm 118, 25, and mentioned in all four Gospels.177
According to the evangelists, six days prior to his death,
Christ, in the company of His disciples, entered Jerusalem
on an ass, and was welcomed by the citizens of the town,
who greeted Him and spread their garments on His path.
The Gospels also associate Christs triumphal entry with
His passion by maintaining that at the time of His entry,
Christ was inspired with the consciousness of His Mes
sianic mission and the awareness of His approaching
death. The association between the two scenes at Nerezi is
thus extremely potent in its meaning. As elsewhere in the
church, this parallel is intended to emphasize the sacrificial
aspect of Christs life, designating the Raising of Lazarus
not only as an example of the supernatural power of
Christ, but also as an event which stands as the harbinger
of the future sufferings of Christ, inaugurated by the Sa
viors triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On a more subtle
note, the established parallel is also meant to involve the
viewer personally in the projected message. The hopes of
Resurrection, implied through Christs raising of Lazarus,
are made possible through Christs sacrifice. The paral
lelism of the two scenes thus reaffirms the ideas repeatedly

171 A segment of Christs lower robes reveals that he was dressed in a purple chiton and a blue himation; his disciples wore ocher, green and pink gar
ments. Mary and Martha, prostrated before Christ, were once dressed in green and purple robes, although the color of their clothing is mostly oblit
erated. The right portion of the composition is dominated by the figure of Lazarus, wrapped in burial bandages, and wearing a garment with a hood,
decorated with a red-dotted pattern of circles. Lazarus is assisted by a gray-haired and bearded man, dressed in a short green robe, dark gray pan
taloons bound near the bottom with bandages, and white shoes. Two more servants surround Lazarus: one is shown as kneeling, dressed in a short
white tunic, and removing the marble cover of the grave; the other is unfolding Lazarus bandages while holding a cloth to his nose. All that has re
mained from the group of Jews who were standing to the west of Lazarus are portions of their garments.
A garment which covers the head and upper body of Lazarus is characteristic of the twelfth-century renditions. See Sacopoulo, Asinou (see foot
note 33), pp. 25-26.
172 For the iconographic development of the scene, see note 4; and E. Mle, La rsurrection de Lazare dans lart, La revue des arts 1 (1951): 44-46.
173 For Bakovo, see Bakalova, Bachkovskata Kostnica (see footnote 14), p. 179; fig. 147; for Kurbinovo, see Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (see
footnote 10), fig. 57; for H. Anargyroi, see Pelekanidis and Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 80), p. 33, fig. ll.
174 Jn. 12,17.
175 Jn. 12, 1-4 5 .
176 For the liturgical celebration of the feast, see R. P. F. Mercenier, La prire des glises de rite Byzantin, 3 vols. (Chevetogne, Belgium, 1940-53),
Vol. 2/2, p. 39.
177 Mt. 21, 1-16 ; Mk. ll, 1 -1 1 ; Lk. 19, 2 9 -4 0 ; and Jn. 12, 12-19.

Chapter III

56
stressed throughout the program of the church: the dual
nature of Christ and the reality of His sacrifice continu
ously re-enacted through the Eucharist.

the two scenes across the church, like the pairing of the
Presentation and the Threnos, encompassed the terrestrial
life of Christ, didactic in their message and striking in their
intimate appeal and realistic appearance.

5. The Marian Cycle


The narrative cycle of the upper zone of the naos at Nerezi
is completed by the display of the scenes from the Marian
cycle on the west wall (pl. 19; figs. XLII, 43). The Nativity
of the Virgin and the almost completely destroyed Pre
sentation in the Temple were most likely topped by the
Koimesis, as was customary in Byzantium.178The Nativity
of the Virgin at Nerezi very closely resembles major
iconographic features of the period.179 In the twelfth cen
tury, the traditional portrayal of the reclining Anna, the
procession of women, and the two maids bathing the in
fant Virgin was enriched by other attendants, the effect of
the scene ranging from a private ceremony to a public
spectacle. The scene at Nerezi remains an image of a
private event, reduced only to the main protagonists
and recalling the earlier, eleventh-century renditions of
the event. Only the girl holding Annas arm, obscure in
origin, enriches the group of the traditional attendants.180
The prominence given to the Marian cycle at Nerezi re
flects the Virgins popularity in the region.181 The location
of the Nativity of the Virgin within the church, however,
resonates the major messages of the program, while span
ning the space of the naos along its east-west axis. Placed
in the second tier of the west wall, the Nativity at Nerezi
faces the scene of the Communion of the Apostles, dis
played in the corresponding tier of the apse (figs.VII,
VIII). While the Birth of the Virgin prefigured the Incar
nation of Christ, it was the Communion of the Apostles
which announced His sacrificial death. Thus, the pairing of

6. Spatial Relations of the Scenes:


Meaning and Significance
The cycle at Nerezi is intended to evoke a participatory re
sponse, engaging the viewer emotionally in the acts and
events depicted in the scenes. Governing the selection,
disposition, and emotionally heightened motives in
individual scenes is the use of juxtapositions and spatial
relations of the scenes, especially in pairs, to amplify the
emotive content of the cycle and emphasize its unified
message. The logic of the pairing seems apparent when one
considers that the scenes of the Incarnation, Theophany,
and miracles of Christ, such as the Annunciation, the
Presentation, the Resurrection of Lazarus, and the
Nativity of the Virgin, are spatially related to scenes which
either anticipate or actually portray Christs sacrificial
death. Such pairing clearly unifies the program of Nerezi
around the theme of the Passion, while emphasizing the
human and emotive content of the cycle. With scenes
spanning the entire space of the church, the beholders
are not only viewers of isolated symbols of the dogma,
but rather participants in an action which is happening
in the realm of their space.
The juxtaposition of isolated scenes and images, while
known since Early Christian times, entered church deco
ration following the iconoclastic controversy, and became
a particularly popular compositional device in the second
half of the twelfth century.182 The scenes which echo each
other across the space of the church allowed the artist to

178 The Koimesis is seen, for example, in Hagioi Anargyroi and Hagios Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi in Kastoria, and in Kurbinovo. See Pelekanides and
Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 80), pp. 24, 52; and Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (see footnote 10), Vol. 2, fig. 90. It was also re-painted at
Nerezi in the sixteenth century (see pls. 8a, 8b).
179 For the iconography of the scenes, see J. Lafontaine-Dosogne, Iconographie de lenfance de la Vierge dans lempire Byzantin et en Occident, 2 Vols.
(Brussels, 1964), Vol. 1, pp. 89-105.
180 The entire upper-south and central portions of the scene are damaged. Thus, the gray building to the south of the composition has mostly disap
peared and the face of the maid with a pitcher is obliterated. The maid bathing the infant Virgin in a large ocher vessel which resembles the shape
of an amphora is fully preserved; she is wearing a green apron and a white, short-sleeved dress, her hair covered with a white scarf. The central por
tion of the scene displays the reclining Anna, leaning against the white pillows and covered with a grayish-green blanket. The bed is decorated with
a purple cloth ornamented in gold, and a folded purple curtain above. Of the four maids, only the one supporting Annas arm, and a woman car
rying a vessel and stepping into the doorway are fully preserved. Both are shown in profile, the woman at the door distinguished for the awkward
positioning of her left arm, which appears detached from her body as if amputated; she is dressed in a white robe with a purple mantle. The head
of the third maid, dressed in white and standing behind Annas bed is partly obliterated. Only a portion of white robes streaked in pink have re
mained from the fourth maid.
The Presentation of the Virgin is now almost entirely lost. Remaining from this scene is only a narrow strip at the left, which shows Anna dressed
in blue garment and purple maphorion, followed by a group of young women.
181 The scenes from the life of the Virgin were prominently displayed in many regional monuments, both those dedicated to the Virgin, such as the
churches of the Virgin of Eleousa at Veljusa, and those which are not, such as the Cathedral church of St. Sophia in Ohrid. The cult of the Virgin
was particularly popular in the Strumica region. See P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Kompleksot crkvi vo Vodoa (Skopje, 1975), pp. 52-53.
182 On this relationship, see Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125). On the Early Christian examples of juxtaposition, see also A. Grabar,
Christian Iconography: A Study of Its Origin (Princeton, 1980), pp. 136-137, who gives an excellent example of Early Christian juxtaposition in his
analysis of the sarcophagus at S. Ambrogio in Milan; there, Christ is represented with apostles in one register, and as the Lamb with sheep on
the register below. Grabar, however, decided that it is an isolated phenomenon and looked at other juxtapositions only through the established
relationship between the Old and New Testament. E. Kitzinger, Reflections on the Feast Cycle in Byzantine A rt, CA 36 (1988): 5 1 -6 1 , also
provides useful information for the study of Early Christian juxtaposition of images and its origins. See also L. Hadermann-Misguich, Aspects de
Pambigut spatiale dans la peinture monumentale byzantine, Zograf 22 (1992): 5-13.

57

Chapter III
emphasize the specially significant moments of the events
portrayed, and thus unify the program around desired
themes. For example, the parallelism between the scenes of
the Nativity of Christ and the Dormition, seen at the Martorana in Palermo, emphasized the notion of Christs in
carnation.183 By the same token, the juxtaposition of the
image of Virgin with Christ Child and the scene of the Last
Judgment, seen at Asinou on Cyprus (12th century), and
the Church of the Holy Apostles in Thessaloniki (14th
century), amplifies the paradox of the dual nature of
Christ,184while a comparison between the Lamentation or
Crucifixion with the Presentation, enhance the notion of
human sufferings of Christ as a crucial step in the economy
of salvation.185While appearing for the first time at Nerezi,
the comparison between the scenes portraying the Passion
of Christ and Christs Presentation in the Temple, is also
seen in later twelfth-century monuments, such at H.
Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi in Kastoria and at St. George in
Kurbinovo.186
The source of the juxtaposition of scenes as a meaning
ful compositional device is most likely found in Byzantine
literature. In his illuminating study on the relationship be
tween Byzantine art and literature, H. Maguire drew per
suasive parallels between the rhetorical devices of descrip
tion, antithesis, hyperbole and lament used in Byzantine
liturgical hymns and homilies, and their visualization in
art.187For example, as H. Maguire pointed out, Marys rec
ollection of the childhood of Christ in the sermons on the
Lamentation, intensifies the pathos and suffering of the
mourning mother by providing a series of contrasts be
tween past and present, birth and death, and happiness and
sorrow. Known since antiquity, the rhetorical device of the
antithesis is explored in the visual renditions of the Lament
during the late eleventh and throughout the twelfth cen
tury, as it appealed to the sentiments of the beholders and
aroused their piety. The rhetorical devices which were
used in literature and liturgy were familiar to a Byzantine
audience, who were thus susceptible to accept them in
art.188 This influence of rhetoric was strong throughout
Byzantium, but it became particularly pronounced in the
twelfth century, as the relationship between the two media
grew closer. The iconography and spatial articulation of
scenes reflect this relationship.

While the spatial parallelism in all of the above men


tioned monuments remained limited to a pair or, at most,
several pairs of images, at Nerezi, for the first time in
Byzantium, the juxtaposition of scenes and images gov
erns the composition of the entire Christological cycle.
Moreover, the ultimate result of these juxtapositions, the
unified message of the cycle which focuses on the Passion
and sacrifice of Christ, so carefully articulated at Nerezi, is
unprecedented. Rather than telling a narrative in a chrono
logical manner, the juxtaposed pairs of scenes connect
messages and timeless truths about Christian faith. Such
structure of space coincides with the Byzantine concep
tion of liturgy. While events from Christs life are recalled
during the Liturgy, they are all nonetheless united through
the idea of redemption in the one act - the Eucharistic con
secration which celebrates Christs sacrificial deeds.189

7. The Theme of Passion


7.1. Social and Cultural Trends
The emphasis on the scenes of the Passion at Nerezi, evi
dent in the aesthetic, compositional and iconographic
character of the program, can be interpreted as a conse
quence of liturgical developments, current political events,
and the social and cultural climate of the period. On the
most general level, the program of.the Christological cycle
at Nerezi can be related to the growing interest in explor
ing human emotions and individual psychological treats
evident in all aspects of Byzantine culture of the period.190
The twelfth-century, often referred to as yet another
Medieval renaissance, witnessed the renewal of humanistic
concerns which penetrated a large cross-section of the
society: from secular education to monastic circles. The
vernacular entered literature, poetic verses became the
favorite vehicle of expression, and tragedy and romance
became popular literary genres.191 The shift towards hu
man behavior, pathos, and appeal towards the sentiments,
which occurred in twelfth-century literature, is also seen
in the art of the period. With a wide array of formal means,
such as elongated proportions, vibrant coloristic effects,
expressive gestures, and psychological characterizations of

183 See Demus, Mosaics of Norman Sicily (see footnote 138), p. 73. For a discussion, see Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 59-68.
184 The Virgin in the narthex at Asinou is from the twelfth century; the Deesis, however, is from the late thirteenth century. For Asinou, see D. Win
field, Hagios Chrysostomos, Trikomo, Asinou. Byzantine Painters at Work, in: Praktika 1972y pp.2 8 5-91. For Holy Apostles, see A. Xyngopoulos, Les fresques de lglise des Saints-Aptres Thessalonique, in: Art et socit Byzance sous les Palologues (Venice, 1971), figs. 1, 18.
For a discussion, see Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 53-59.
185 Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 91-108.
186 For Kurbinovo, see C. Grozdanov and L. Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (Skopje, 1991), pp.42-45.
187 Maguire, Art and Eloquence (see footnote 125), pp. 91-108.
188 Ibid, p. 110.
189 M. M. Solovey, The Byzantine Divine Liturgy, tr. by D. E. Wysochansky (Washington, 1970), p. 269.
190 For discussion and bibliography, see A. P. Kazhdan and A. W. Epstein, Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries
(Berkeley, 1985), pp. 207-208.
191 The new humanistic tendencies of the twelfth century are well summarized in A. Kazhdans comparison of the two descriptions of the painted dec
oration of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, one by the twelfth-century writer Nicholas Mesarites and the other by the ninthcentury Constantine of Rhodes: The same Christological images that Constantine saw as flat emblems of truth, Nicholas described as emotion
ally charged fragments of time. He not only saw Lazaruss body brought out of its tomb by Christ, he even smelled its rotting flesh. See Kazhdan
and Epstein, Change in the Byzantine Culture (see footnote 190), p. 224.

Chapter III

58
figures, artists provided visual definition of the complexity
of human nature.
A more specific source for the prominence given to the
theme of the Passion at Nerezi is found in current liturgi
cal trends. Liturgy, like other aspects of human activity,
answered the pulse of cultural trends in Byzantium. Al
though hymnography declined in quality and production
in the twelfth century, the lyrical verses of pre-iconoclastic
religious poets became particularly appealing to the con
temporary audience, remained an important component of
liturgical readings, and became a rich resource of the new
iconographic and aesthetic features of art. Their impact at
Nerezi is above all evident in the emotionally charged
themes of the Deposition and the Threnos, discussed ear
lier. Moreover, judging by the surviving Typica, such as the
Typicon of the Evergetis monastery in Constantinople
(11th century) and the Typicon of the monastery of Savior
in Messenia (1131) new offices were introduced in the cel
ebration of the Passion Week.192 The offices which com
memorated the events on the cross, the Deposition, the
Lamentation, and the Entombment were included in the
liturgy of Good Friday, and the solemn entry into the
church which resembled a procession to Christs tomb, be
gan developing in the ceremonies of the Holy Saturday.193
Thus, in its emphasis on the Passion of Christ, the cycle at
Nerezi provided a powerful answer to current cultural and
liturgical trends and consequently appealed to a contem
porary audience.
7.2. Alexios Concerns
The innovative nature of the program at Nerezi is also in
timately related to the wishes and aspirations of its patron,
Alexios. The choice of the Passion as the unifying theme of
the Christological cycle, is in tune with the theme of the
intercession, another subject powerfully illustrated at
Nerezi, and seen for example in the prominence given to
the patron saint and to the holy physicians. The emphasis
on the themes of Passion and intercession at Nerezi
indicates that thoughts about death and the wish for safe
passage into the next world were very much on the mind
of the patron Alexios. Along with the presence of the tomb
in the north-west chapel, the references to death evident
in programmatic structure of the program, suggest that
the patron may have intended the church as a place of his
own burial.
Above all, the compositional, aesthetic, and formal nov
elties of the Christological cycle at Nerezi also confirm
Alexios involvement in current theological disputes, sug
gested in other areas of the church. As discussed earlier, the
disputes during the Church Councils challenged both the
dual nature of Christ and the validity of the Eucharistic
rite. The program of the Christological cycle at Nerezi an

swered both challenges. The paradox of Christs human


and divine nature is constantly re-iterated in juxtaposed
scenes and images. Moreover the realism of Christs sacri
fice and the need for its perpetual liturgical re-enactment,
so strongly supported by the defenders of the faith during
the Councils, was persuasively visualized by formal and
aesthetic devices. The redemptive powers of Christs Pas
sion, explained by the Church Fathers, defended during
the Church Councils, and celebrated in the liturgy, found
their visual identity on the walls of the naos at Nerezi.
In their persuasive visualization of human sentiment,
the artists at Nerezi created a pinnacle of emotionally
charged image and space. The programmatic concerns and
their superb pictorial translation related to the general
tendencies of the period, revealed the aspirations of the
patron, and went far beyond established artistic clichs,
providing a visual paradigm for centuries to come.

SANCTORAL CYCLE
1.Introduction
The sanctoral cycle at Nerezi complements the program of
the church both in its message and in its aesthetics. The
twenty-seven saints displayed in the lower zone of the
naos are all depicted only about 60 centimeters above the
floor level as life-size, standing figures with rather distinc
tive, portrait-like facial features (pls. 16-22; figs. LI-LVII;
50-69).194 They were all once identified with inscriptions
and many were shown as carrying inscribed scrolls. The
choice and disposition of saints reveal the function of the
church, personal choices of its patron, and liturgical prac
tices of the period. The most striking features of the sanc
toral cycle at Nerezi are the arrangement of saints ac
cording to their respective categories (figs. VII, VIII), the
appearance of the group of five hymnographers (fig. LVII),
and the intimate connection which the images of saints
have both with the Christological scenes above and with
the beholder (figs. X, XI).
The saints at Nerezi are carefully organized. Placed
symmetrically on opposing walls and, in most instances,
vivaciously gesturing towards one another, the saints are
brought into rhythmic relationship among themselves.
The saints, like the scenes in the upper zone, integrate the
space of the church both across the naos and along the ver
tical axis. The majority of the saints from the lower zone
correspond to the major accents in the narrative scenes
above, and thus the entire wall becomes compositionally
unified. Moreover, the saints look in a number of direc
tions, their gazes intersecting within the space of the naos
and meeting with the eyes of the beholder.

192 See M. Arranz, Le Typicon du Monastre du St. Sauveur Messine. Cod. Messinesis Gr. 115 A.D. 1131 (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 185, Rome,
1969), pp. 236-240; and A. Dmitrievskii, Opisanie liturgicheskikh rukopisei, 3 Vols. (Kiev, 1895-1917), Vol. 1, p. 550.
193 The fully developed ritual of Epitaphios Threnos, however, appears only in the 14th century. See D. I. Pallas, Die Passion und Bestattung Christi in
Byzanz: Der Ritus-Das Bild (Munich, 1965), pp. 42-4 6 , 231; and Belting, The Image and Its Public (see footnote 145), pp. 100-103.
194 The height of the zone of the saints is 1.65 m, and the height of figures is approximately 1.55 m.

59

Chapter III
The choir of saints at Nerezi also re-enforces the partic
ipatory character of the program, evident throughout the
church. Accessible to the beholder by their physical close
ness and interactive stances, the saints at Nerezi are also
highly individualized. They are distinguished by their
facial types, and special attention was given to emphasiz
ing different categories of saints, not only through cos
tumes and attributes, but also through their careful
arrangement. The use of identifying inscriptions and at
tires, seen at Nerezi, was a common characteristic of saints
since the end of iconoclasm. The emphasis on precise iden
tifications of saints corresponded to a growing need of the
faithful to channel their prayers through a particular holy
individual, vested with special protective powers.195 The
spatial distribution of saints according to their respective
categories, however, is unprecedented in Byzantium.
For the first time in extant Byzantine monumental
painting, each category of saints in the naos of Nerezi is
represented on a separate wall, the saints of the same class
echoing each other across the naos. Thus, the north and
south walls are devoted to warrior saints (pls. 18, 20), the
west wall exhibits holy martyrs (pl. 19), and the walls of
the arms of the cross display holy monks (pls. 16, 17, 21);
the north wall of the north arm of the cross is dedicated ex

clusively to holy poets (pl. 22). The most significant posi


tion within the choir of saints is given to St. Panteleimon
(figs. XXXIV, XLIX; 83). Prominently displayed under
the richly ornamented south proskynetarion frame, St.
Panteleimon provides a pendant to the icon of the Virgin
and Christ which flanks the iconostasis to the north
(figs. XXXIV, L). The arrangement of saints according to
their respective categories indicates that the choir of saints
at Nerezi was not meant to introduce any temporal re
ferences, since the order of saints does not even attempt to
follow the Menologia sequence. Rather, the arrangement
reveals that saints are distinguished for specific skills of
their class, and trusted for their intercessory powers.

2. Military Saints
Upon entering the church, the visitor is surrounded by six
famous holy warriors, all dressed in military costumes as
was customary at the time (pls. 18, 20; figs.LIII, LV).196
Looking from east to west, St. George (fig. 56),197 St.
Demetrios (fig. 57),198 and St. Nestor (fig. 58),199 displayed
on the south wall, are facing St. Theodore Teron (fig. 62),200
St. Theodore Stratelates (fig. 61),201 and St. Prokopios

195 For the shift in portrayals of saints following the iconoclastic controversy, see H. Maguire, The Icons of Their Bodies. Saints and Their Images in
Byzantium (Princeton, 1996), especially pp. 5 -4 8 .
196 The costume consisting of tunic, cuirass, and chlamys was a common attire of Byzantine military saints since at least the eleventh century. For details
of the costume, see P. Underwood, The Kariye Djami, 3 Vols. (New York, 1966), Vol. 1, pp. 252-258.
197 St. George is well preserved, only his facial features appear somewhat faded. He is dressed in a blue tunic with hem ornamented in gold, which
covers his knees; a cuirass displaying a scale-armor pattern of brown and beige squares; a white breast band across his chest which holds the cuirass;
flaps (pteryges), which resemble the pattern of the cuirass; a girdle which supports a blue sash with golden borders knotted at its center; a red
chlamys pinned at the right shoulder with a fibula; and dark-blue tightly-fitted pantaloons (anaxyrides) bound near the bottom with white ban
dages. He holds the spear in his right hand, and touches a white shield with the left.
For bibliography on St. George and other saints, see appropriate entries in ODB. In addition, for representations in art, see T. Mark-Weiner,
Narrative Cycles of the Life of St. George in Byzantine Art (Ph. D. dissertation, New York University, 1977). For the life of the saint, see K. Krumbacher, Der heilige Georg in der griechischen berlieferung (Munich, 1911); for popularity of the saint, see D. Howel, St. George as Intercessor,
Byzantion 39 (1969): 131-136.
198 Lower portions of St. Demetrios, including his feet, are damaged. He is dressed in a red tunic with golden embroidered hem, a gray and brown scale
cuirass, pteryges of the same color as the cuirass, a brown band, a girdle decorated with beads, and a long blue chlamys tied at the right shoulder
with a fibula. He holds the hilt of a partially drawn sword in the left hand and its scabbard in the right. A white heart-shaped shield with a border
ornamented with stylized acanthus is depicted behind the saint.
For representations of St. Demetrios in art, see E. Smirnova, Culte et image de St. Dmtre dans la principaut de Vladimir la fin du XIIe-dbut
du X IIIe sicle, in: Diethnes Symposio. Byzantin Makedonia 324-1430 (Thessaloniki, 1995), pp. 267-277; A. Xyngopoulos, Ho eikonographikos
kyklos ts zons tou Hagiou Demetriou (Thessalonike, 1970); C. Walter, Studies in Byzantine Iconography (London, 1977), pp. 157-78; and A.
Grabar, Quelques reliquaires de saint Dmtrios et le martyrium du saint Salonique, DOP 5 (1951): 1-2 9 . For literature, see P. Lemerle, Les
plus anciens recueils des miracles de Saint-Dmtrius et la pntration des Slaves dans les Balkans, 2 vols. (Paris, 1979-81).
199 St. Nestor is well preserved; two letters of his identifying inscription, NE of , have remained. He is dressed in a short gray tunic streaked
with white and ornamented with golden embroidery at the hem; a scale cuirass and pteryges, both displaying a pattern of brown and beige circles;
dark-brown anaxyrides and white boots; and a red chlamys tied at the right shoulder with a fibula. He holds a spear with the right hand and a cir
cular shield rendered in profile, its border decorated with vermiculated arabesque in his left hand.
For representations in art, see Constantinides, Olympiotissa (see footnote 47), pp. 246-247.
200 The saint is well preserved, only his feet are missing. He is dressed in a long, metallic-blue tunic, richly embroidered with gold at the hems; green
and white scales of the armor cuirass with pattern of circles; brown pteryges and brown girdle; and a mantle which is tied at the center and also flips
over his right arm, displaying a tablion and an ornamental pattern of floral design enclosed in a circle, similar to the altar-cloth in the bema (see foot
note 10). He holds a spear in his left hand and a heart-shaped shield in the right.
For the enkomion, see PG 46, cols. 736-748. For representations in art, see Constantinides, Olympiotissa (see footnote 47), pp. 209-210.
201 St. Theodore Stratelates is the most elaborately dressed in the group. His tunic is red, hemmed with golden embroidery; his cuirass and pteryges
are very similar to those worn by St. George. The front of the cuirass is, however, covered with his blue chlamys, tucked under the chest band,
flipped over, and forming the shape of an arrow, decorated with the tablion and the same floral pattern as that of St. Theodore Teron. While his left
hand rests on his hip, he holds a sword in his right hand. A heart-shaped shield, displaying heraldic blue and red fields, is placed behind him. For
this unusual appearance of the coat-of-arms at Nerezi, see M. orovi-Ljubinkovi, Predstave grbova na prstenju i drugim predmetima materi
jalne kulture u srednjevekovnoj Srbiji, in: O Knezu Lazaru (Belgrade, 1971), p. 174.
For texts, see BHG, nos. 1750-1753m. For representations in art, see L. Mavrodinova, Sv. Teodor-razvitie i osobenosti na ikonografskija mu tip
u srednovekovnata zhivopis, Bulletin de lnstitut des Arts 13 (1969): 3 3 -5 2 ; and Th. Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les peintures murales de Hosios
Loukas: les chapelles occidentales (Athens, 1982), pp. 69-70.

Chapter III

60
(fig. 60), on the north.202The selection of warrior saints was
clearly governed by their popularity. As a group, they rep
resented recognized leaders of the army of holy martyrs
and defenders of the faith, their lively gestures and vivid
stances communicating the energy and strength with which
they accomplished their divine mission. As individual
icons, they appealed to a wide audience, offering an avenue
for private prayer and meditation. Judging by both literary
and visual sources, the lives and deeds of these holy war
riors were well known to contemporary worshipers, and
their images were frequently exhibited in all media.203 With
regard to the twelfth century, the same triad of Sts. George,
Demetrios, and Nestor is seen, for example, in Cefal,
while the selection of warrior saints at Nerezi fully resem
bles that of the church of H. Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi in Kas
toria.204 Moreover, the pairing of saints seen at Nerezi had
become common by the twelfth century. Particularly com
monly paired were the two Theodores,205 as well as Sts.
Demetrios and Nestor,206 who were martyred together in
the third century, during the prosecution of the emperor
Maximian.207

3. Martyrs
The four martyrs are also displayed in pairs (pl. 19,
figs. LIV; 59). They flank the entrance to the church and
occupy the entire first zone of the west wall. They are
dressed in courtly costumes consisting of a long tunic,
richly ornamented around the collar, cuffs, and at the
hem; and a mantle (chlamys), tied by a fibula on the
right shoulder and partially obscuring the tunic. Con
siderable damages to the pair of martyrs to the north of
the entrance and the missing inscriptions of the martyrs
to the south conceals their identity.208 Thus, in the pre
sent state of preservation, the martyrs in the naos are
distinguished only as representatives of their respective
class.

4. Holy Monks
The major prominence in the sanctoral cycle at Nerezi is
given to the holy monks. Out of twenty-seven saints dis
played in the first zone, sixteen, that is almost two thirds,
are monks. Moreover, they occupy all the walls of the arms
of the cross, thus dominating the most important section
of the church, the central area under the dome (pls. 16, 17,
21, 22; figs. LI, LII, LVI, LVII; 50-55, 64-69).209 The ma
jority of monks are clad in their traditional attire, consis
ting of a long tunic, a scapular, and a mantle (mandyas).
The prominence given to this class of saints, as well as their
distribution, reveals significant information about the
function of the church, as well as about its patron.
The sheer number of the holy monks represented at
Nerezi and their placement in the central area of the
church, support the notion, implied thus far only in the
mention of the hegoumenos in the inscription, that Nerezi
indeed was a monastic church. Since the congregation con
sisted mostly, although not exclusively, of the members of
the monastic community, the prevalent presence of the
monastic saints had a rather important didactic function. It
is the virtue of their holy predecessors that the monks of
the community are instructed to follow, and it is by virtue
of the intercessory powers of these holy monks that their
terrestrial followers will achieve salvation for themselves
and for the people on whose behalf they conduct numer
ous daily prayers. The function of the holy monks at
Nerezi is further emphasized by the now defaced inscribed
liturgical scrolls carried by the monks. From a few pre
served lines, it is clear that the scrolls once displayed in
structive notices, advising monks about the necessity of
good Christian life.210
The choir of the holy monks is led by St. Anthony the
Great (figs. LI; 50), represented as the eastern-most saint
on the south wall of the south arm of the cross under the
scene of the Presentation. The father of monastic life and
the most prominent figure of fourth-century asceticism in

202 St. Prokopios is dressed in a short green tunic and a green cuirass with brown pteryges mostly obscured by his agitated red mantle and a white
circular shield which he holds under his right arm. He also wears dark pantaloons and white boots.
For the life of the saint, see H. Delehaye, Les lgendes grecques des saints militaires (Paris, 1909), pp. 214-233. For other texts, see BHG, nos.
1576-1584. For representations in art, see D. Mouriki, Four Thirteenth-Century Sinai Icons by the Painter Peter, in: Studenica i vizantijska
umetnost oko 1200. godine (Belgrade, 1988), pp. 329-349.
203 For the popularity of a select group of holy warriors, see Underwood, Kariye Djami (see footnote 196), pp. 253; and Mouriki, Nea Moni (see foot
note 118), p. 143.
204 The only difference in the Kastorian church is that St. Merkourios is added as the fourth saint, standing besides St. Nestor. For Kastoria, see
Pelekanides and Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 80), pp. 6 0 -6 1 ; for Cefal, see E. Borsook, Messages in Mosaic: the Royal Programmes of Nor
man Sicily (1130-1187) (Oxford, 1990), fig. 9.
205 One of the oldest examples of the pairing of the two Theodores appears at Nea Moni, Chios. See Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), p. 143.
206 For their common appearance as a pair, since at least the eleventh century, see Constantinides, Olympiotissa (see footnote 47), pp. 247-248.
207 The link between the two martyrs became popular since the tenth century. The legend about their martyrdom is included in the story about the
passion of St. Demetrios. See Synaxariumy cols. 163-170; PG 116, cols. 1185A, 1192-1202.
208 The head and upper chest of the martyr standing next to the north wall is defaced; only the lower portion of his white and green tunic and red
chlamys is visible. The head of a martyr standing to the north of the door is also missing, with only a portion of his halo remaining. He is dressed
in a red tunic and a white and green chlamys, the golden-embroidered tablion decorating his chest. The two martyrs to the south of the door are
well preserved, only the lower portions of the robes of the martyr standing next to the door are faded. He is dressed in a red chlamys and a gray
ish-white tunic, richly embroidered with gold at the collar and hems; a golden-embroidered ribbon with cufic letters is represented on his sleeves.
The martyr standing next to him wears similar garments, except that both his tunic and his chlamys are red.
209 For the importance of this area, see T. F. Mathews, The Sequel to Nicea, pp. 191 -214.
210 Only a few lines are still legible, but similar practices are seen in other monastic churches, such as at St. Neophytos on Cyprus; see C. Mango and
J. W. Hawkins, The Hermitage of St. Neophytus and Its Wall Paintings, DOP 20 (1966): 119-207.

Chapter III
Egypt is easily recognized by his physical features: an old
man with wrinkled face, short, forked beard and covered
head.211 Other monks on the south wall are also singled out
for their important role in the history of monasticism and
portrayed according to well established visual conven
tions. St. Anthony is accompanied (from east to west) by
St. Paul of Thebes (figs. LI; 51), a distinguished Egyptian
ascetic, easily identified by his brown and ochre striped
straw garment;212 St. Euthymios (figs. LI; 52), the father of
Palestinian monasticism, known especially for his defense
of the dogma of the two natures of Christ, and portrayed
as a bald man with white beard reaching below his belly;213
St. Sabas (figs. LI; 53), an important representative of
sixth-century Palestinian monastic life;214 and an ano
nymous monk (figs. LI; 54).215 Except for St. Makarios
(fig. 64),216 represented first on the south side of west wall
of the north arm of the cross, and St. Arsenios (fig. 55), an
Egyptian monk who abandoned the life of luxury to be
come an anchorite, the saints on the west walls of the arms
of the cross cannot be identified with certainty; however,
judging by the group on the south wall, they too were
popular figures in the history of Byzantine monasticism
(figs. LII, LVI).217
The five ascetic saints of the south wall of the south
arm of the cross resonate with the solemn processional
figures of the scene of the Presentation above (pl. 16;
fig. XXXVII). They also provide a powerful parallel to the
group of five holy poets represented across the naos, on
the north wall of the north arm of the cross (pl. 22;
fig.XLVI). While holy monks were a popular icono
graphic subject in post-iconoclastic art, the isolation

61
of hymnographers at Nerezi represents the first such
grouping in Byzantine monumental art.218 It also reveals
important information about the church, its patron, and
twelfth-century Byzantine society in general.

5. Hymnographers
Despite the loss of identifying inscriptions, the distinctive
physiognomies and attributes of hymnographers, as well
as the fully preserved texts on their scrolls, reveal five
famous Byzantine poets (from east to west): St. Kosmas
the Hymnographer (figs. LVII; 69), St. John of Damascus
(figs. LVII; 68), St. Theodore of Stoudios (figs. LVII; 67),
St. Theophanes Graptos (figs. LVII; 66), and St. Joseph of
Sicily (figs. LVII; 65).219 Like the ascetics on the opposite
wall, the holy poets accent the major iconographic ele
ments in the scene of the Lamentation above (pl. 22;
fig.XLVI). St. Joseph of Sicily is placed right under the
entrance to the cave, St. Theophanes Graptos is aligned
with the emotionally charged face of the mother and her
dead son, St. Theodore of Stoudios accentuates the dra
matic curvature of St. Johns body, St. John of Damascus
is placed right under Nicodemus and Joseph, while
St. Kosmas once anchored the group of the holy women.
The connection between the hymnographers and the
scene illustrated above is not only formal. As discussed
above, the rendition of the Lamentation was based on re
ligious hymns and sermons, written by Byzantine poets,
included in the liturgy, and known to a contemporary be
holder.

211 The lower portions of St. Anthonys legs are defaced; he is dressed in a yellow tunic, brown mantle, and a dark-blue cowl decorated with white
stripes.
His scroll still displays several words [] INA Y ;
For the life of St. Anthony, see PG 26, cols. 836-978; for English translation, see R.T. Meyer, The Life of St. Anthony (Westminster, MD, 1950);
for representations in art, see Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), p. 160.
212 St. Paul of Thebes, like the remaining four saints on the same wall, have been preserved only above the waist. For representations in art and bibli
ography, see Constantinides, Olympiotissa (see footnote 47), p. 221.
213 He is dressed in a white tunic, greenish-blue mantle, and a dark-gray scapular. For his life, see PG 114, cols. 596-733; for texts, see BHG, nos.
647-650d.
214 Shown as an old, balding, man with characteristic gray beard which parts at the chin; dressed in a yellow mantle tied with a fibula at the chest. For
his life, see Kyrillos von Skythopolis, ed. by E. Schwartz (Leipzig, 1939), pp. 85-200; For texts, see BHG, nos. 1608-1610. For representations in
art, see Sacopoulo, Asinou (see footnote 33), pp. 106-108; and Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), pp. 166-167.
215 The monk is gray-haired with a long, squarish beard and delicate facial features. He is dressed in a blue tunic, purple mantle, and scapular with its
color faded. The first word of his scroll, , is still legible. The same word marks the beginning of the inscription of an unidentified saint
with corresponding facial features at Asinou; see Sacopoulo, Asinou (see footnote 33), p. 107.
216 St. Makarios, distinguished for his long gray hair which falls over his shoulders in strands, and his long beard which reaches below his knees, is
dressed in a gray tunic, brown mantle, and scapular mostly obscured by his beard. He holds a now defaced scroll in his left hand.
217 St. Arsenios is the southern-most monk on the west wall of the south arm of the cross. He is represented, as was customary, with white, curly hair
and white beard divided in strands; he wears a light-blue tunic, gray and white mantle, and scapular. His scroll is defaced too. The enkomion of the
saint was written by Theodore of Stoudios; see T. Nissen, Das Enkomion des Theodores Studites auf den heiligen Arsenios, Byzantinisch-neugriechische Jahrbcher 1 (1920): 2 4 1-6 2 ; for texts, see BHG, nos. 167y-169c; for representations in art, see Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118),
pp. 159-161.
Standing next to St. Arsenios is a saint with a head covered with hood and wearing a brown mantle, greyish tunic, and a scapular. A third saint on
the wall is bald, with long, pointed gray beard, and dressed in a yellow tunic, and a dark-green mantle. Accompanying St. Makarios on the west wall
of the north arm of the cross, are a saint wearing a brown tunic and an ocher mantle tied in two knots below the waist, his hair covered with a scarf;
and a balding, gray bearded saint wearing a grayish-blue tunic, brown mantle, and a black scapular. The few visible letters on his scroll are a conse
quence of restoration and illegible.
218 Holy poets appear as a group in twelfth-century musical manuscripts, however. See A. W. Carr, Illuminated Musical Manuscripts in Byzantium.
A Note on the Late Twelfth Century, Gesta 28/1 (1989): 4 1-5 3 .
219 For the representations of hymnographers in art, see G. Babic, Les moines-potes dans glise de la Mere de Dieu Studenica, in: Studenka i
vizantijska umetnost oko 1200. godine (Belgrade, 1988), pp.205-217.

Chapter III

62
5.1. St. Theodore of Stoudios
The most prominent position among the hymnographers
is given to St. Theodore of Stoudios (759-826). He is the
central figure on the wall, dressed in an elaborate attire,
and shown frontally, unlike the other poets who are repre
sented in a three-quarter profile (figs. LVII; 67). While all
other monks at Nerezi wear the modest monastic clothing,
Theodore is clad in a richly ornamented, vividly colored
attire which combines monks habit with patriarchal vest
ments. The pinkish tones of his tunic highlighted with
white are juxtaposed to a dark blue phelonion embroi
dered with gold at its hem. Under the phelonion, he wears
the epitrachellion and encherion, both richly embroidered
with golden ornament.
The elaborate attire and the central position of St.
Theodore signifies his importance.220 Theodore is distin
guished for his important role in reforming the Stoudios
monastery, a leading Constantinopolitan center of Byzan
tine monasticism established in 462. Under his guidance,
from the beginning of the ninth century, the Stoudios
monastery became an important stronghold of Orthodoxy,
an active agent in the iconoclastic controversy, and a distin
guished center of Byzantine hymnography.221 St. Theodore
was a writer of liturgical hymns, homilies, and panegyrics,
as well as a theologian, famous for his veneration of icons,
particularly those representing the human appearance of
Christ.222 It is thus interesting that he is portrayed right
across from St. Euthymios, another fervent supporter of
the notion of the inseparable, dual nature of Christ.
The inscription on St. Theodores scroll is from the sec
ond antiphon recited in the Orthros of the first Sunday
after the Pentecost, known as the Sunday of All Saints. It
reads (fig. 67): Let my heart be sheltered with the fear of
Thee, in humble-mindedness, lest, by being exalted, it fall
away from Thee, O All-compassionate. He that hath hope
in the Lord shall not be afraid, when with fire and torments
he shall judge all things.223 The choice of this inscription
may have been based on the fact that a large part of the
hymnographical material of the Triodion and the Pentecostarion is usually attributed to Theodore of Stoudios.224
The choice of this particular verse becomes more meaning
ful, however, when considered in the context.
The choice of verses read on the Day of All Saints seems
appropriate for the scroll of one of the most distinguished
figures in the sanctoral cycle. After all, the liturgy of the
All Saints day commemorates the sacrificial lives of all the
saints represented on the walls of the church; it celebrates

their triumph over physical death and their eternal life


achieved through the salvific deeds of Christ. The texts
read during the liturgy of that day are, above all, focused
on faith as the avenue for salvation achieved through the
sacrifice of Christ. For example, the Gospel lesson from
Matthew (10, 32-33; 10, 37-38; 19, 27-30) indicates that
faith is not merely a personal emotion, but requires dedi
cation not only through words, but also through deeds.
St. Matthew says: He that loveth father or mother more
than me is not worthy of me ... And he that taketh not
his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
(Matt. 10, 37-38). And the ultimate cause for salvation is
offered in the readings from St. Paul: Looking unto Jesus
the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that
was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12, 2).225
The messages of the Gospel readings for the day are
summarized in the poetic, lyrical, verses inscribed on
St. Theodores scroll. The verses profess profound faith in
the power and compassion of Christ, who will bring sal
vation to the faithful on the day of the Last Judgment.
What the text on the scroll expressed in an eloquent, al
though probably elite manner, the actual choir of saints at
Nerezi maintained. The saints, like the members of the
congregation, owe their eternal life to sacrificial deeds of
Christ powerfully illustrated on the walls above. The im
ages, like the text, inspired the faithful to obedience and
surrendering of ones life. Neither the words alone, nor the
faith alone have a power to save. Rather, it is obedience,
surrendering of ones life, and the self denial which means
that we shall take up our cross and follow after him who
for the joy that was set before him endured the cross as
the liturgy of the day reads after the Epistle.226
5.2. St. John of Damascus and St. Kosmas
the Hymnographer
The importance of faith in Christ and the remembrance of
His sacrificial life is further elaborated on the verses in
scribed on the scrolls of the other hymnographers, partic
ularly St. John of Damascus and his adopted brother
St. Kosmas the Hymnographer who are represented to the
left of St. Theodore (figs. LVII; 68, 69). Both St. John and
St. Kosmas were distinguished members of St. Sabas
monastery in Palestine, another stronghold of medieval
orthodoxy; they were also leading eight-century hym
nographers, praised particularly for the mastery of their

220 St. Theodores life is preserved in several versions. See PG 99, cols. 113-232, 233-328; and B. Latyshev, Vita S. Theodori Studitae in codice
Mosquensi musei Rumianzoviani no.520, VizVrem 21 (1914), pp.258-304.
221 See E. Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography (Oxford, 1961), pp. 229-231.
222 His role as a defender of icons, especially the icon of Christ, is also seen in Nea Moni where he is represented near the image of Christ in the lunette
above the entrance to the naos. Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), pp. 162-163.
223 The text on the scroll reads: , , . (
, , , ).
I am grateful to Dr. Despina Kontostergion for her help with this translation.
224 See D. Mouriki, The Portraits of Theodore Studites in Byzantine A rt, JOB 20 (1971): 261.
225 G. Barrois, Scripture Readings in Orthodox Worship (Crestwood, NY, 1977), pp. 119-122.
226 Ibid., p. 122.

Chapter III
Kanons.227 Their common origin, family ties, and poetic
activity inspired artists to represent them together in many
works of art.228
St. John of Damascus (c. 675 -749) was both a monk and
a priest, a distinguished theologian, and a famous poet
(figs. LVII; 68).229 He lived during the first period of the
iconoclastic controversy and became famous for refuting
iconoclastic heresy,230 just like St. Theodore who suc
ceeded his work in the subsequent century and is repre
sented near him. The writings of St. John of Damascus
provided the basis for the consolidation of Orthodoxy,
particularly the three apologetic orations, De imaginibus,
and his famous text, De fid e orthodox y characterized as
the greatest theological effort of Eastern scholasticism.231
In fact, his position in the Eastern church has been com
pared to that which Thomas Aquinas held in the West.232
St. John of Damascus also stands out as one of the lead
ing hymnographers. The prominent role which he has in
the history of Byzantine liturgy is by and large due to his
work on compiling the Octoechos, an editorial task which
he shared with St. Joseph Hymnographer represented as
the westernmost poet on the wall. In addition, St. John,
along with his foster brother, St. Kosmas, was one of the
leading writers of Kanons, a type of Byzantine liturgical
poem which flourished in the monastery of St. Sabas.
Among the famous Kanons written by St. John, is the so
called Golden Kanon, the Resurrection Kanon read on
the Easter Day.233 The verses inscribed on his scroll at
Nerezi, however, are taken from his Second Kanon,
chanted during the Orthros of the feast of the Nativity of

63
Christ on December 25th. The verses at Nerezi are from
the hirmos of the ninth Ode, dedicated to the Virgin. They
read (fig. 68): It would be easier for us, because free from
all danger, To keep silence in fear: While it is hard indeed,
O Virgin, in love to devise songs harmoniously put to
gether. But do thou, O Mother, Give us strength so we
may fulfill our good intent. Today the Master is born
as a babe of a Virgin Mother.234 Beautifully wrapped in
lyrical tones, the verses thus represent the powerful pro
clamation of the Incarnation of Christ. It is through
His incarnation, after all, that the salvation was granted
to human kind.
The theme of incarnation is also apparent is the verses
written on the scroll of Johns foster brother, a holy monk,
a poet, and a defender of Orthodoxy, St. Kosmas the
Hymnographer (675-752).235 The verses on his scroll are
from the Kanon sung during the Vespers on January 4 and,
as slightly modified, during the Orthros of the Forefeast of
Nativity on December 22 (fig. 69). On January 4, they
read, The Wisdom of God [Jesus Christ], containing the
uncontainable, suspending water in the heavens, reigning
in the abyss, and holding back the seas, runs to the Jordan
[river]; [and] receives Baptism from the hand of a ser
vant.236 On December 22, the ending verses are slightly
modified for the feast of the Nativity. While beginning
with the same verses as those inscribed at Nerezi, the con
cluding lines read: ... and holding back the seas Thou de
scended into a Virgins womb, and in some recensions
end with from which (the Virgins womb) Thou now
comst forth to be born in two natures, O God and

227 Byzantine hagiography ascribes the invention of the Kanon to Andrew of Crete (660-740). The first school of Kanon-poets, however, flourished
in the monastery of St. Sabas in the middle of the 8th century. St. John of Damascus and St. Kosmas are recognized as leading masters of this poetic
genre. See Wellesz, Byzantine Music and Hymnography (see footnote 221), pp. 204-229.
228 They are represented together in art since the tenth century. In twelfth-century monumental art they are seen, for example, in Bakovo, where they
flank the scene of the Dormition; at Bojana, as a part of the early leyer of paintings, where they originally flanked the scene of the Crucifixion; and
at Lagoudera, where they flank the Mandylion. In the early thirteenth-century church of Panagia Amasgou at Monagri they are painted under the
scene of the Presentation of the Virgin. For Bakovo, see Bakalova, Bachkovskata Kostnica (see footnote 14), pp. 8 3 -8 4 ; for Bojana, see Idem, Za
konstantinopolskite modeli v Boianskata crkva, Problemi na izkustvoto 1 (1995): 10-22 ; for Lagoudera, see Stylianou and Stylianou, Painted
Churches on Cyprus (see footnote 50), p. 182, fig. 101; for Monagri, see Boyd, The Church of Panagia Amasgou, Monagri (see footnote 132),
fig. 46. For a discussion, see Babi, Les moines-poetes (see footnote 219), pp. 2 0 7 -2 0 8 .1 am grateful to Prof. Elka Bakalova for bringing the ap
pearance of these saints at Bojana to my attention.
229 The figure of the saint is damaged, a vertical crack in the wall obliterating most of his face and portions of his attire. He is dressed in a light blue and
pink tunic, dark-green mantle, and a black cowl which covers his head.
230 The Vitae of the saint was written either by John VIII Chrysostomites, patriarch of Jerusalem, or by John IX; see J. M. Hoeck, Lexikon fu r The
ologie und Kirche 5, cols. 1023-26. For his role as a defender of icons, see T. F. X. Noble, John Damascene and the History of the Iconoclastic
Controversy, in: Religion, Culture, and Society in the Early Middle Ages: Studies in Honor of Richard E. Sullivan (Kalamazoo, 1987), pp. 95-116.
For the texts, see BHG, nos. 884-885m.
231 Wellesz, Byzantine Music and Hymnography (see footnote 221), p. 206. St. Johns works are published in PG 94-96. For English translations, see
W. H. Chase, Writings (Washington, DC, 1958); and D. Anderson, On the Divine Images (Crestwood, NY, 1980).
232 Wellesz, Byzantine Music and Hymnography (see footnote 221), pp. 206-207.
233 Ibid., p. 206.
234 , , , , ,
, , , , .
Translated in: The Festal Menaion, tr. by Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware (London, 1969), p. 283.
235 St. Kosmas the Hymnographer is also known as St. Kosmas of Maiouma, a monastery near Gaza where he was elected as a bishop. See BHG, nos.
394-395; and Th. Detorakes, Kosmas ho Melodos (Thessaloniki, 1979). He is represented as wearing a yellowish-white tunic, purple mantle, and a
cowl on his head.
236 The text on the scroll reads:
, , , ...
On December 22, it continues:
, , , .
On January 4th, it continues:
, , , .

64
man.237 The verses inscribed at Nerezi were most like
ly intended to recall both uses. If the Baptism of Christ
represents His Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ and
the Holy Trinity, the Nativity symbolizes the salvific
promise manifest through Incarnation of God who be
came man, containing qualities of both his human and di
vine natures.
5.3. St. Theophanes Graptos
The inseparable, dual nature of Christ and his consubstantiality with other members of the Holy Trinity is also em
phasized in the inscription preserved on the scroll of
St. Theophanes Graptos (c. 778-845).238 His placement to
the right of St. Theodore of Stoudios suggests his promi
nent role in the development of Byzantine monasticism,
for it was Theophanes Graptos who transmitted the litur
gical practices of St. Sabas monastery to Stoudios
monastery (figs. LVII; 66). Thus, the sense of continuity,
from Palestinian monastic liturgy, represented through the
two foster brothers shown to the right of St. Theodore,
to Constantinopolitan monastic liturgy, evident in the
presence of St. Theodore of Stoudios and St. Joseph
the Hymnographer, is established by the positioning of
St. Theophanes within the file of hymnographers. As
other hymnographers represented at Nerezi, Theophanes
too was involved in defending icons, and was tortured by
having his provocative verses tattooed on his forehead;
hence the name Graptos which means marked with writ
ing. At St. Sabas monastery, St. Theophanes was first a
monk and then a priest; following the iconoclastic contro
versy, Theophanes became the archbishop of Nicaea.239
The inscription on Theophanes scroll reads (fig. 66):
Theophanes Graptos, the first Angelic Hymn.240 Most
likely, the inscription refers to the Trisagion, as it is the first
angelic hymn.241 The words Holy God, Holy Mighty,
Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us are repeatedly
chanted three times both during the Eucharistic Liturgy
and during every Divine Office. In fact, it is one of the
most frequently chanted of all Byzantine hymns. The ori
gin of the hymn has been discussed by many theologians,
including St. John of Damascus, and it is still disputed. In
all explanations, however, the Thrice-Holy-Hymn is said
to have been divinely inspired and revealed to people as the

Chapter III
authentic text of the hymn sung by the angels in heaven.242
As such, the Trisagion was included in Constantinopolitan
liturgy in the fifth century.243
The hymn celebrates the Holy Trinity and its Trinitarian
connotations were explained and established already in the
writings of St. John of Damascus and later elaborated in the
fourteenth century by Nicholas Cabasilas.244 In fact, ac
cording to one legend about its origin, the hymn was in
vented for a refutation of the Monophysite doctrine which
denied the dual nature of Christ and claimed that Christ is
only divine and that consequently God himself suffered
and died in the Passion of Christ.245 Thus, the words of the
hymn stressed the dual nature of Christ and his consubstantiality with other members of the Holy Trinity by
praising God as mighty and immortal even in the Passion
and death of Christ. The legend hardly provides a reliable
source for establishing the origin of the hymn. But the con
nection between the Trisagion hymn and the heretical at
tempts to deny the dual nature of Christ is historically es
tablished. In fact, the hymn is first mentioned in the acts of
the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451 where the
bishops actually sung the hymn as an argument against the
Monophysites.246 Although no written evidence exists to
confirm any similar gesture of church dignitaries at the
twelfth-century Church Councils, the questions dealing
with the two natures of Christ and the hypostatic union
were at the core of the disputes and the appearance of the
Trisagion on the walls of Nerezi is by no means surprising.
It is, however, quite puzzling that the hymn which was
composed in the fifth century, is alluded to in the inscrip
tion of the ninth-century hymnographer. Such a discrep
ancy certainly raises the question about the importance
which was assigned to the accurate attribution of a text to
its author. It is, however, possible that the first angelic
hymn on St. Theophanes scroll refers not to the actual
hymn, but to its commentary, poetic verses read at Vespers
Services of the Pentecost: Holy God, who created all
things through the Son and the Holy Spirit; Holy Mighty
One, through whom we know the Father, and the Holy
Spirit came into the world; Holy Immortal One, the Spirit
of Joy, who comes from the Father and rests in the Son,
Holy Trinity, Glory be to you.247 These verses may well
have been attributed to Theophanes at the time; yet it is
tentative.

237 For adaptation of verses to suit the specific feast, see F. Barii, Grki natpisi na monumentalnom ivopisu, Z R V I 10 (1967), pp. 47-59, especially
pp. 55-56.
238 He is clad in a bright yellow tunic shaded with green, and a dark purplish-brown mantle. Theophanes Graptos was a brother of Theodore Graptos; they were known both as poets and as fervent defenders of icons. For the life of the saint, see PG 116, cols. 653-684; for texts, see BHG, nos.
1745z-1746a, 1793.
239 PG 116, cols. 670-684.
240 . It is interesting that in this inscription, as in the inscription of St. John in the diakonikon, the artists
writes with two Omicrons instead of Omega.
241 I am grateful to Dr. Despina Kontostergion for bringing this to my attention.
242 For the origin of the hymn, see N. K. Moran, The Ordinary Chants of the Byzantine Mass (Hamburg, 1975), pp. 57-65.
243 D. G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (London, 1978), p. 451; and H. Schulz, The Byzantine Liturgy (New York, 1986), pp. 22-25.
244 For John of Damascus, see PG 95, cols. 2 1 - 6 1 ; for Cabasilas, see PG 150, cols. 412-416.
245 For the text of the legend, see F. Nau, Nestorius, Le livre dHraclide de Damas (Paris, 1910), pp. 318-323.
246 Mansi, Vol. 6, 936.
247 M. M. Solovey, The Byzantine Divine Liturgy, tr. by D. E. Wysochansky (Washington, 1970), p. 187.

Chapter III
5.4. St. Joseph of Sicily
The fifth Hymnographer, standing next to Theophanes
Graptos, is another Studite monk and poet, St. Joseph of
Sicily (c. 812-886), also known as the Hymnographer
(figs. LVII; 65).248 He was a famous Kanon writer, distin
guished for his contribution to the transformation of this
poetic genre.249 Among his Kanons, the most recognized
were those dedicated to the Virgin. The verses inscribed on
his scroll read: Accept, O Lord, all our hymns ...250
5.5. The Importance of Hymnographers
The file of hymnographers communicates many potent
messages. First of all, the writers of the holy poems are dis
played under the most lyrical and emotionally charged
scene in the church, the Lamentation. Thus, although the
texts on the scrolls do not refer directly to the scene, one is
drawn to establish a visual parallel between the poetic im
age and the poetry which inspired it. Moreover, the selec
tion of the holy poets is revealing. They are representatives
of two important centers of Byzantine monasticism: St.
Sabas monastery near Jerusalem, represented through St.
Kosmas and St. John of Damascus; and Stoudios
monastery, the stronghold of ninth-century Constanti
nopolitan monasticism, exemplified through St. Theo
phanes and and led by St. Theodore of Stoudios. The cen
tral position given to St. Theodore suggests an inclination
to emphasize the importance of Byzantine monastic circles
from the capital, the Palestinian hymnographers confirm
ing its legitimacy and its long history.251 Moreover, Byzan
tine monasteries took their liturgy from Jerusalem, the
pro-Palestinian elements becoming particularly promi
nent after iconoclasm.252
It is also important to note that the hymnographers rep
resented at Nerezi were distinguished theologians, some
even taking a prominent role in defending icons during the
iconoclastic controversy. Thus, on the one hand, the sheer
appearance of the holy poets recalls their deeds in provid
ing spiritual guidance and inspiration for the monks of
their respective communities, as well as for those who
lived at Nerezi. On the other hand, the appearance of the
group of theologians who fought fervently against the op
position to representing Christ as human, legitimizes the
realism with which the artists at Nerezi represented the
Passion of Christ. As defenders of true Orthodoxy, the
hymnographers also supported the traditional dogma
about the inseparable, dual nature of Christ which was

65
challenged during the twelfth-century Church Councils;
hence their appearance at Nerezi is by no means sur
prising.
The choice of the verses inscribed on the scrolls of the
holy poets is also significant, since it clearly indicates no in
tention to glorify the individual creative spirit of a particu
lar poet. If an individual poet was to be honored, St. John of
Damascus would have been most likely distinguished with
his most famous work, the Golden Kanon, and Theo
phanes Graptos would display verses from the poems
which were clearly his. No individual identity or glory,
however, is fostered through the images of hymnographers
at Nerezi. Their individualized portraiture and identifying
inscription served most likely only to distinguish them as
members of a group, important for writing liturgical po
etry. The role of hymnographers thus, in some way, com
pares to the role of the artists at Nerezi. Both composed
works of extraordinary formal and dogmatic value, yet
they were both, as Wellesz put it humble artisans, whose
talent sufficed for the unobtrusive adornment of the
liturgy.253 Nerezi artists remained anonymous. The indi
vidual creative power of the hymnographers is also consid
erably underplayed. Rather than glorifying the individual,
the poetic verses on their scrolls communicate a unified
theological message. Christ, who is the supreme judge, as
indicated by St. Theodores scroll, was Incarnated and as
sumed human flesh for our sake (John of Damascus); yet,
despite his suffering as human he is nonetheless at the same
time divine (Kosmas), and a consubstantial member of the
Holy Trinity (Theophanes), as celebrated in the liturgy.
The emphasis upon the dual nature of Christ and the
Trinitarian concept, evident in the inscribed scrolls, recalls
the major debates of the Church Councils and, as else
where in the church, implicates the patron. Who else, but
a highly educated member of the court aristocracy could
have designed such an intellectually potent icon? The idea
to isolate hymnographers as a separate group, the choice of
hymnographers, and their relationship to other images,
clearly define Alexios as a well read and a well educated in
tellectual. The connections between the current ecclesias
tical debates and the images in his church serve as a con
stant reminder about his personal preoccupations and his
close connections with the emperor. The liturgical content
of these images confirms that he was quite versatile in the
ological matters, thus further distinguishing him as a mem
ber of the Constantinopolitan intellectual elite.
The hymnographers at Nerezi are an elitist group, dis
tinguished for their theological education and activity, as

248 He is wearing a dark-brown tunic, olive-green mantle, black scapular and a cowl. For biography, see E. Tomadakes, Isph ho Hymnographos
(Athens, 1971). For texts, see BHG, cols. 944-947b.
249 See Wellesz, Byzantine Music and Hymnography (see footnote 221), pp. 234-236.
250 , , .
I was not able to find the source for this inscription in Parakltik syn Tbe Agi (Rome 1738), cited in Babi, Les moines-potes (see footnote
219), p. 207, n. 12.
251 The fifth hymnographer, St. Joseph, was also a representative of the Constantinopolitan school; he founded the monastery of St. Bartholomew in
Constantinople.
252 R. Taft, The Great Entrance: A History of the Transfer of Gifts and Other Pre-Anaphoral Rites of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Rome, 1975).
253 Wellesz, Byzantine Music and Hymnography (see footnote 221), p. 158.

Chapter III

66
well as for their contribution to Byzantine hymnography
and liturgy. They are also to be understood as the leaders
of the monastic community, since both their lives and their
songs glorify and praise God, and thus inspire the con
gregation to follow them. The inscriptions on the scrolls of
other holy monks confirm this notion. While the holy
monks at Nerezi display the texts which give instruction
about the daily behavior of the monastic community,
the lyrical verses on the hymnographers scrolls give the
immediate reason for such behavior, by glorifying the
savior and His deeds.

6. St. Panteleimon
The most prominent position within the choir of saints at
Nerezi is given to the patron saint, St. Panteleimon
(figs. XXXIV, XLIX; 83).254 As was customary for patron
saints at the time, St. Panteleimon is raised above the dado
zone, and painted in an ornate proskynetarion frame
distinguished for its marble frame and elaborate stucco
reliefs.255 Moreover, unlike the dynamic choir of saints,
St. Panteleimon is a still, iconic image, shown frontally. In
addition, while other saints communicate with each other
through body language and spatial pairing, St. Pantelei
mon is detached from their company. He is paired with the
image of the Virgin and Christ Child on the opposite side
of the iconostasis (figs. XXXIV, L).256 In a way, thus,
St. Panteleimon represents a separate category in the
strictly organized classes of saints at Nerezi, especially
trusted for his intercessory powers.

as was customary before, but also apostles, church fathers,


all holy hierarchs, warrior saints, holy ascetics, holy physi
cians, etc.257 The literary basis for this development can be
found already in the writings of the fourth-century hermit,
St. Ephraim, who wrote a list of saints, divided in their re
spective categories, who were interceding for people on
the day of the Last Judgment.258
While the spatial grouping of saints according to their re
spective categories is conspicuously absent in monumental
painting before Nerezi, it appears in twelfth-century man
uscripts.259 That is at least suggested by the illumination of
the Homilies of James of Kokkinobaphos (Vat. gr. 1162, fo
lio 5), which represents the convocation of saints who cele
brate the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin.260The grouping
of saints according to their respective categories in the illu
mination has been explained as an early version of the icon
of All Saints, used for the celebration of the feast and par
ticularly popular in the post-Byzantine period.261 One is
thus left to wonder whether the feast of All Saints may have
been recalled through this particular arrangement of the
sanctoral cycle in the naos. The possibility becomes more
realistic when one considers that the text on the scroll of
St. Theodore of Stoudios, the most elaborately portrayed
of all the holy monks, refers to the same feast.
In sum, the sanctoral cycle at Nerezi is liturgical in its ori
gin and dogmatic in its content. It adheres to the realism ev
ident in other areas of the church in order to maintain the po
sition of the Church on the true re-enactment of the liturgy.
It also more intimately reflects the personal aspirations and
wishes of the patron, through its intellectual content, politi
cal connotations, and intercessory themes. The themes of
passion and intercession developed in the naos, are also
firmly interlocked in the painted decoration of the narthex.

7. Grouping of Saints
The grouping of different categories of saints on separate
walls most likely represents a consequence of liturgical de
velopments, particularly the development of the prothesis
rite. While previously mentioned only as a group, separate
classes of saints were invoked during the late eleventh cen
tury in the prothesis rite. Thus, a series of commemorative
prayers that were recited during the breaking of the bread
included not only the Theotokos and St. John the Baptist,

NARTHEX
1.Introduction
While the painted program of the main areas of Byzantine
churches acquired established, canonically imposed fea
tures by the middle of the twelfth century, the selection

254 The image is in a good condition, only its lower portion is damaged, obliterating St. Panteleimons feet and a portion of his thighs. St. Panteleimon
is shown as a full-size standing figure, dressed in a white tunic decorated with golden cuffs and collar; above it, he wears a looser white tunic,
streaked with green, and ornamented with gold embroidery at the shoulders; a dark-gray scapular with a golden border; and a white epitrachellion
decorated with gold. He is holding a medical box and a scalpel in left hand and pointing towards it with the right. The frame is decorated in stucco
reliefs and will be discussed in the chapter on sculpture. For the representations of the saint in art, see Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo (see foot
note 186), Vol. 1, pp. 243-245; and Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), Vol. l , pp. 151 -152. For the life of the saint, see the section on the narthex.
255 The prominent position given to the patron saint at Nerezi was standard in twelfth-century art; see S. Tomekovi, Les rpercussions du choix du
saint patron sur le programme iconographique des glises du 12e sicle en Macdoine et dans le Ploponnse, Zograf 12 (1981): 25-43.
256 The upper portion of the icon of the Virgin and Christ Child is entirely lost, and the heads of both figures are obliterated. The remaining portion
of the icon reveals that Christ was dressed in yellow robes and shown as blessing with his right hand, while holding a scroll in the left. The Virgin,
standing on a platform, wears her traditional blue robe and a purple maphorion, the gesture of her hand identifying her as Hodegetria.
257 For the development of the rite, see Walter, Art and Ritual (see footnote 46), pp. 232-238.
258 For a discussion, see T. Velmans, Le dimanche de tous saints et licone expose Charleroi, Byzantion 53 (1983): 17-35, particularly p. 18.
259 Ibid.
260 Ibid., fig. 2, and I. Hutter, Das Marienhomiliar des Mnchs Jakobos von Kokkinobaphos: Codex vaticanus graecus 1162 (Zurich, 1991), at folio num
ber.
261 Velmans, Le dimanche de tous saints (see footnote 258), pp. 17-35.

Chapter III
and organization of images and scenes represented in the
narthex do not reveal any standardized pattern.262 Thus,
relieved from programmatic limitations, the patron of
Nerezi, Alexios, most likely imprinted a private quest for
his own salvation on the choice of images and scenes dis
played in the narthex.
The paintings in the narthex are poorly preserved and
completely missing on the ceiling and on the west wall.263
The remaining scenes and images are comprised of the
Deesis, placed above the main entrance (pl. 24, fig. LXI);
the hagiographic cycle of St. Panteleimon depicted on con
siderable portions of the north, south and east walls
(pls. 23-25; figs. LXII-LXIV); and individual saints ren
dered both in the main area of the narthex and in adjacent
chapels (pls.24, 26, 27; figs.LX, XLV-LXVII; 70-74).
While a peculiar selection of individual saints most likely
represents the personal preferences of the patron, the
choice of the Deesis and the scenes from the life of his pro
tector saint indicate Alexios appropriation of St. Pantelei
mons intercessory powers.

2. The Deesis
The Deesis, rendered above the arched tympanum of the
main entrance to the church, has been preserved only in
fragments (pl. 24, fig. LXI).264 Still visible at the summit of
the arch is a portion of the head of Christ, displaying
prominent eyes, longish, white hair and beard, and a
cruciform halo. To the north of Christ is a fragment of the
Virgin, identified by the remaining portions of her halo
and the blue maphorion which covers her head and upper
torso. The Virgin is shown in a three-quarter profile,
probably addressing Christ; yet, her facial features are
now faded. Standing to the right of Christ was either an
archangel or an angel, presently known only by surviving
segments of the blue wings and by the contours of the
drapery.265
The iconography of the Deesis is unusual. First, if
Christ was originally shown with longish, white hair and

67
beard, then the Deesis at Nerezi represents a rare, although
not unique version of the scene with the Ancient of
Days.266 The appearance of different types of Christ in the
art of the post-iconoclastic period in general, and their
association with the interpretation of the Eucharist in the
twelfth century in particular, has been discussed above.267
Within the context of the Deesis, the Ancient of Days
recalls the concept of Christs divinity in His human ap
pearance, a paradox seriously argued during the Church
Councils in Constantinople. Thus, the appearance of
the Ancient of Days at Nerezi complies with the main
programmatic orientation of the painted decoration seen
elsewhere in the church.
Another unusual, although not entirely unknown
feature of the Deesis at Nerezi is the substitution of the
traditional image of St. John the Baptist with an angel or
archangel. As pointed out by scholars, St. Johns place
was occasionally occupied by images of apostles, monastic
saints, or even the figures of the bishops or the donor.268
The appearance of angels and archangels is also seen, for
example, in the twelfth-century Skylitzes manuscript
(Madrid, Bib. Nacional, cod. vitr. 26-2, fol. 64v), the mar
ble reliefs at Topkapi in Istanbul tentatively dated in
the twelfth century, and the epistyle of the templon in
Blachernae church at Arta.269
The meaning of the Deesis in the narthex of Nerezi
becomes apparent only when viewed in context. The im
age of the Ancient of Days emphasizes Christs eternal
divinity, manifest in His human appearance. In addition,
the Deesis at Nerezi may also acquire an eschatological significance since the choice and arrangement
of the scenes from the hagiographic cycle of St. Pante
leimon emphasize the themes of the passion. The pres
ence of the tomb in the north-west chapel, which, as
discussed earlier, was included in the functional space of
the narthex, also suggests that an intercessory role was
most likely assigned to the Deesis; that at least agrees
with the notion that the scene commonly acquired
intercessory meaning within the context of funerary
chapels.270

262 G. Babi, Ikonografski program ivopisa u pripratama crkava kralja Milutina, in: Vizantijska umetnost poetkom X IV veka (Belgrade, 1978),
pp. 105-126; and S. Tomekovi, Contribution ltude du programme du narthex des glises monastiques (XIe-premire moiti du X IIIe s.),
Byzantion 58 (1988): 140-154.
263 The ceiling and the west wall were completely reconstructed, as discussed in Chapter II.
264 Fragments of the Deesis above the main entrance were concealed beneath the eighteenth-century icon of St. Nicholas, and were not discovered until
the restoration of the monument in 1970s. See P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Prilozi prouavanju crkve manastira Nerezi, ZLU 10 (1974): 314.
265 The iconography of the Deesis at Nerezi may have been extended by inclusion of additional figures. This is at least suggested by the presence of a
standing figure who flanks the entrance door to the north. The figure, wearing a long robe and carrying a now defaced scroll in his left hand, while
the right rests on the chest, has been identified as either St. Peter or St. Paul by Hamann-Mac Lean, Grundlegung (see footnote 31), p. 270. His at
tribution is, however, tentative, since the inscription on the scroll is illegible, and the head of the figure is lost.
266 The damage inflicted on the fragment of Christs head make it impossible to decide whether we are presently looking only at underpainting, or at
the actual color of his hair and beard. The speckles of white color detected upon close inspection, however, indicate that the identification of the
type of Christ as the Ancient of Days is very likely. The Deesis with the Ancient of Days is also found in the narthex of the twelfth-century church
of H. Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi; see Pelekanides and Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 80), p. 52, no. 69.
267 See pp. 39-44.
268 For examples and discussion, see Cutler, Under the Sign of the Deesis (see footnote 116), pp. 148-153; and C. Pennas, An Unusual Deesis in
the Narthex of Panagia Krena, Chios, Deltion 17/4 (1993-94): 193-198.
269 For a discussion and bibliography, see Cutler, Under the Sign of the Deesis (see footnote 116), p. 151, n. 48.
270 See Walter, Art and Ritual (see footnote 46), pp. 183-184; and G. Babi, Les chapelles annexes des glises byzantines. Fonction liturgique et pro
grammes iconographiques (Paris, 1969), pp. 162-173.

Chapter III

68
3. The Cycle of St. Panteleimon
The hagiographic cycle of St. Panteleimon is preserved
mostly in fragments and distributed along the east, south,
and north walls of the narthex (pls. 23-25; figs.LXIILXIV). Of the eight scenes rendering the life of St. Pan
teleimon and his companions, Hermolaos, Hermippos,
and Hermokrates, six are dedicated to their sacrificial life,
passion, and burial. Moreover, despite considerable losses,
the size, location, and distribution of the preserved scenes
indicate that preoccupation with the themes of death gov
erned the selection and composition of the hagiographic
cycle.

3.1. The Life of St. Panteleimon


The story of the life of St. Panteleimon follows the gen
eral conventions of Byzantine hagiographic narrative.
St. Panteleimon was a late third/early fourth-century
physician saint born in Nikomedeia, Asia Minor (died c.
305).271 He was raised by a Christian mother, Evula, and
a pagan father, Eustrogios, who was a senator. Pantelei
mon received early medical instructions from a pagan
physician, and upon his meeting with the Christian priest
Hermolaos, he converted from paganism to Christianity.
Moreover, under the spiritual guidance of Hermolaos,
Panteleimon became one of the famous Christian physi
cians.
On the general level, the Christian life of St. Pantelei
mon parallels that of Christ, while particular events often
recall other Biblical figures. L ike Christ, St. Panteleimon
performed miracles, and was betrayed, tried, tortured, and
killed by his adversaries. Miraculous deeds and the begin
ning of the passion of St. Panteleimon also recall the life of
Christ. The saint is said to have healed the blind, helped
the poor, and resurrected a dead child who was bitten by a
snake. After being betrayed, he was tried by Emperor
Maximian, the Emperor assuming the role of Pilate.
Following his trial, St. Panteleimon, like Daniel, was
thrown among wild animals and, like Peter, was saved
from drowning; Christ, appearing as St. Hermolaos, saved
St. Panteleimon.
Among other tortures, St. Panteleimon was stretched on
the wheel, thrown into boiling wax, and beaten while his
body was hung upside-down from an olive tree. After the
first attempt to kill him ended unsuccessfully, since the
sword with which he was to be beheaded turned into wax
and melted, St. Panteleimon was executed according to his
own wish: while in prayer. Incorporated in the story of
the passion of St. Panteleimon is also the trial and the

beheading of his friends, Hermolaos, Hermippos, and


Hermokrates.272
Like the narrative, the visual portrayals of the life of
St. Panteleimon relied on the pre-existent compositional
formula of Biblical events. The borrowing of the Gospel
formulas to illustrate the life of a saint served to assimilate
the events in the saints life even more closely to those of
the life of Christ; that, in turn, enabled the viewer to recog
nize and grasp the significance of the image, even if unfa
miliar with the literary background.273 Following the same
order as the cycle in the naos, the scenes of the life of
St. Panteleimon begin on the east wall and develop
chronologically along the south and north walls, ending
with the burial of the saint on the eastern section of the
north wall. Although largely damaged, the majority of the
scenes can be identified.
3.2. The Scenes: East Wall
The most tentative identification concerns the opening
scene of the cycle. Located in the northern-most section
of the east wall and above the entry to the north-west
chapel is a fragment of the base of a throne and a small
segment of a purple robe decorated with precious stones
and pearls (pl. 24). According to R. Hamann-Mac Lean,
the remaining fragments may have once belonged to
the scene of the presentation of the saint to the Emperor
Maximian; yet his claim is unsubstantiated.274 Fragments
of two scenes have been preserved on the south side
of the east wall (pl. 24; fig. LXII): one above the entrance
to the south-west chapel, and another in the first zone
and to the left of the entrance to the south-west chapel,
the latter showing only the lower half of a brown wheel.
A segment above the entrance to the south-west chapel
is split by a red border line into two sections, display
ing, therefore, remaining parts of two scenes. The upper
section reveals a small arched brick structure with an
opening. The structure itself may be interpreted as a
cave. According to R. Hamann-Mac Lean, this could
have been either a part of the scene depicting the arrest of
the saint, or a part of the scene showing the betrayal
of the hiding-place of St. Panteleimon and his friends.275
The lower part of the fragment shows the heads of two
young figures, their faces drawn tightly together and
rendered in profile. Since the heads are filling the space
between the upper red border and the entrance to the
south-west chapel, they might have once belonged to the
scene which was depicted in the area below, and which
exhibited a brown wheel. The wheel is related to the
torturing of the saint by Maximian, which his profound
Christian faith enabled him to overcome. Although tied

271 For the life of St. Panteleimon by Symeon Metaphrastes, see PG 115, cols. 448-477; see also, V. V. Latyshev, Neizdannye grecheskie agiograficheskie teksty (St. Petersburg, 1914), pp.40 -7 5; and Synaxarium, cols. 848-852. For other texts, see BHG, nos. 1412z-1418c.
272 PG 115, cols. 468-477.
273 For discussion on the comparisons of the hagiographic literature and art to biblical characters, see N. P. evenko, The Life of Saint Nicholas in
Byzantine Art (Torino, 1983), p. 172; and H. Maguire, The Art of Comparing in Byzantium, AB 70 (1988): 93-103.
274 See Hamann-Mac Lean, Grundlegung (see footnote 31), p. 271.
275 Ibid., p. 272.

69

Chapter III
to the wheel and pushed down a hill, the saint remained
unhurt.276
3.3. The Scenes: South Wall
The south wall of the narthex exhibits three scenes, two
occupying the entire height of the wall and depicted to the
left and to the right of the entrance door, and the third
displayed in the eastern section of the vault (pl. 25;
figs. LXII - LXIV). All that has remained from the scene in
the vault are lower portions of two figures who are walk
ing on the water (pl. 25; fig. LXII).277 The steps of the fig
ures and the agitation of their draperies indicate that both
images were once rendered as running. Although there are
no surviving portrayals of this scene, the written sources
make it clear that the scene depicted in Nerezi illustrates
the miracle at the sea. Challenging the saints faith, Em
peror Maximian ordered that Panteleimon be thrown in
the sea with a stone hanging from his neck. Nonetheless,
Panteleimon was saved by Christ who, in the person of
Hermolaos, led the saint across the water.278
The remaining scenes are large, occupy the entire height of
the north and south walls, respectively, and are placed to the
east and west of the side entrances to the narthex. These
scenes are dedicated to the prosecution, execution, and bur
ial of St. Panteleimon and his friends. The best preserved im
age in the narthex is the scene portraying the friends of St.
Panteleimon who are condemned and sentenced to die by

the Emperor Maximian because of their faith (figs. LXII,


LXIII).279 Located beneath the miracle at the sea, the scene
renders Hermolaos, Hermippos, and Hermokrates, brought
before Maximian by two soldiers. Although no surviving
renditions of the life of St. Panteleimon portray this event, it
can be identified on the basis of the literary accounts.280 The
punishment ordered by Maximian is carried out on the west
side of the wall. Preserved only in fragments, the scene shows
two events: the beheading of Hermolaos and the burial of
Hermolaos, Hermippos, and Hermokrates (fig. LXIV).281
The decision to squeeze two consecutive events, the burial
and the beheading of the saint, within one scene, is intrigu
ing.282 Nowhere else in the church has the painter done this.
Moreover, there certainly was enough space to depict the
two events separately. The reasons for combining the execu
tion and the burial become apparent only when viewed
within the context of the scenes of the execution and burial of
St. Panteleimon depicted on the facing wall.
3.4. The Scenes: North Wall
The Execution of St. Panteleimon occupies the western
section of the north wall and is directly juxtaposed with
the execution and the burial of his friends (pl. 23). The
pairing of these two scenes emphasizes the theme of pas
sion. Remaining only in its basic outlines, the scene shows
the kneeling Panteleimon who is just about to be decapi
tated by a sword.283 Although severely damaged, the scene

276 A similar scene has been preserved in the Church of San Angelo in Formis and on an icon from Sinai. See, S. Tomekovi, Les cycles hagiographiques de San Angelo in Formis: recherche de leur modles, ZLU 24 (1988): 2 - 8 , fig. 1; and The Glory of Byzantium. Art and Culture
of the Middle Byzantine Era A. D. 843-1261 (Exhibition Catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art), ed. by H. C. Evans and W. D. Wixom (New
York, 1997), pp. 378-79; no. 249. The portrayal of this event in Sant Angelo in Formis is particularly helpful in reconstructing the scene in Nerezi.
The two heads above the entry of the chapel in Nerezi are most likely those of the witnesses of the event, since they are also depicted in San An
gelo in Formis, and the patches of green and brown color certainly indicate landscape. Moreover, the scene in Nerezi probably represents the af
termath of the event, since no traces of the body of St. Panteleimon remain on the wheel. It is plausible, therefore, that the saint was once repre
sented as standing alive beside the wheel, as is the case with the rendition in San Angelo in Formis.
277 To the left, one sees the lower half of a barefoot figure, the remaining bottom part of its transparent drapery revealing the legs and suggesting that
the figure was once dressed in a green robe with gold-ornamented borders. Preceding that figure was another one, known at present only by his
feet and by the lower half of the purple drapery. Depicted around the legs of the figures are fishes, locating the event in water.
278 Synaxarium, col. 848, lines 13-15.
279 The scene exhibits Maximian, enthroned, crowned, dressed in purple robes, and placed in front of a gable-roofed building with a green portal and
a white marble column. Maximian is approached by Panteleimons friends: Hermolaos, shown as the oldest of the three, carrying a book, and
dressed in a yellow tunic and a red mantle ornamented in gold; Hermippos, and Hermokrates, who follow Hermolaos, are clad in red and green
robes, and rendered with curly, brown hair and short, brown beards; they are both pointing their hands towards Maximian. Maximians soldiers
are both dressed in military costumes, consisting of a short blue tunic and a yellow cuirass.
280 Hamann-Mac Lean, Grundlegung (see footnote 31), p. 272.
281 Although the uppermost and the bottom parts of the scene are now lost, both the iconography of the scene and the remaining parts of the inscrip
tion make this identification certain. Inscribed on the left side of the composition are four lines which identify the saints as Hermolaos, Hermip
pos, and Hermokrates, and the action of the scene as their execution. The inscription reads: [EP]M[]AA[ S], ( ), for Hermolaos;
[], , for Hermippos; [], , for Hermokrates; and (), , a passive of
, which can be translated as to become a perfect Christian. The three saints are nimbed and rendered in the upper part of the scene as
reposing in a reddish, marble coffin. They are wrapped in burial shrouds, and exhibit facial features which resemble the physiognomies of the saints
depicted in the preceding scene. St. Hermolaos is shown in the lower portion of this scene as a nimbed, kneeling figure; above him is a now head
less standing figure of his executioner, dressed in a military costume and shown as holding a sword. The scene has been wrongly identified as the
execution of St. Panteleimon by R. Hamman-Mac Lean and H. Hallensleben, Die Monumentalmalerei in Serbien und Makedonien vom 11. bis zum
f r hen 14. Jahrhundert (Giessen, 1963), fig. 45, pl. 7a.
282 I have not been able to find a visual parallel for this scene.
283 The pigments of colors are detectable only in traces. St. Panteleimon is identified by the three remaining letters of the inscription,
[][], , and by his facial features. The saint is nimbed, depicted as he is elsewhere in the church as a young man
with short brown hair, and dressed in a green robe with gold-ornamented borders, the paint remaining only on the lower parts of his robe. He is
kneeling, with his hands and head touching the ground, and his face shown en face and parallel to the picture plane. The contours of the figure of
the executioner, which is all that remains of him today, reveal that he is standing behind St. Panteleimon and holding a sword above the saints head.
That the event is taking place in the landscape is indicated by a stretch of now largely faded green color at the bottom of the scene.

Chapter III

70
at Nerezi corresponds to other surviving renditions of the
beheading of St. Panteleimon, such as those in the
eleventh-century Moscow Menologion (folio 101r), the
late twelfth/early thirteenth-century icon from Sinai, a
steatite plaque in the Vatican, and the Menologion from
Jerusalem, Saba 208 (folio 110v).284
The concluding scene of the cycle, the burial of St. Pan
teleimon, is depicted on the east section of the north wall
(pl. 23), facing the sentencing of his friends. The scene, al
most completely faded, dispays a nimbed saint, wrapped in
the burial shroud, and placed lying on a bed once deco
rated with floral ornament. Attending the death-bed of the
saint are three figures: two young men who are standing
by his feet, and a figure which was once placed above
the head of the saint. On the basis of the portrayal of the
burial of Saint Panteleimon on the icon from Sinai, the
figure once standing above the head of the deceased saint
could be identified as a bishop.
3.5. Hagiographic Cycles of St. Panteleimon
The earliest surviving portrayals of the hagiographic cycle
of St. Panteleimon have been ascribed to the twelfth cen
tury. Preserved from before the twelfth century are only
portrayals of isolated events of the saints life, such as a
scene which shows Panteleimon healing a blind man in the
church of St. Crisogono, Rome (10th cent.); a scene of his
encounter with the wild animals, depicted in Pantokrator
61 (folio 182r); and two scenes depicting the resurrection
of the child bitten by a snake, and the beheading of the
saint in the Moscow Menologion (folio 101r).285 In the
twelfth century, several scenes from the life of this saint
have survived on the steatite plaque from Rome, in the
manuscript from Jerusalem, Saba 208, on the icon from
Mount Sinai (12th-13th cents.), and at Sant Angelo in
Formis.286
The variety of scenes included within each particular
cycle clearly indicates that there was no established iconographic pattern for the representations of the hagiographic
cycle of the saint. While the icon and the plaque display
scenes which encompass the entire life of the saint, the
selection of scenes in the manuscript and at Nerezi is
mostly limited to his passion.287 Moreover, while the

steatite icon and the narthex of Nerezi exhibit an abbrevi


ated version of their respective themes, the number of
events is considerably multiplied on the icon. Above all,
several of the scenes depicted at Nerezi, as evident from
the earlier discussion, do not appear in any other surviving
cycles. This leads us to a conclusion that the selection and
the number of the scenes of the cycle of St. Panteleimon
exclusively depended on the context in which they were
placed (as was the case with other hagiographic cycles),
and that they most likely reflected the wish and the mes
sage of its patron.
Hagiographic cycles displayed in twelfth-century
churches almost invariably portrayed the life of the saint
to whom the church was dedicated.288 The selection of the
saint was most likely inspired by his/her importance for
the patron. For example, a patron might consecrate his
foundation to St. George in the hope of a military victory,
or in gratitude for success in a war, while he/she might de
vote the church to the holy physicians for the purpose of
seeking or showing gratitude for healing or recovery.289
The latter is evident from the literary sources. For example,
Michael Psellos account of Emperor Michael IV informs
us that the Emperor built the Church of H. Anargyroi to
honor the saints, as well as to propitiate the Servants of
God; perchance they might heal his affliction.290 A pa
trons dedication to the saint of his choice was certainly in
tensified by representing not only an iconic image of a par
ticular saint, but a pictorial glorification of the saints life as
well. In this context, a portrayal of the supernatural deeds
accomplished by the saint served as a further promise of
his aid to those who placed their trust in his power of in
tercession before Christ.
3.6. Passion and Intercession
Alexios homage to his holy protector is emphasized in the
narthex of Nerezi through the selection and composition
of scenes. The scenes of the life of St. Panteleimon are
mostly devoted to the passion of the saint. Considering
that the narrative cycle of the life of Christ displayed in the
naos also highlights the Passion and sacrificial aspects of
His life, the patrons intent to honor his saint by relating
him to Christ, becomes readily apparent. At Nerezi, this

284 For the Moscow Menologion (State Historical Museum, Moscow, Cod. gr. 9), see N. evenko, Illustrated Manuscripts of the Metaphrastian Meno
logion (Chicago, 1990), p. 68, fiche 2A 10; for a discussion, see K. Weitzmann, The Selection of Texts for Cyclic Illustration in Byzantine Manuscripts
(Washington, 1975), p. 85; fig.22. For the icon, see Glory of Byzantium (see footnote 276), pp. 378-379; no.249; for the steatite plaque, see I.
Kalavrezou-Maxeiner, Byzantine Icons in Steatite, 2 Vols. (Wien, 1985), Vol. 1, pp. 127-129; Vol.2, pls.20- 21; for the Jerusalem manuscript
(Jerusalem, Library of Greek Orthodox Church, Saba 208, folio 110v), see A. W. Carr, Byzantine Illumination 1150-1250: The Study of a Provin
cial Tradition (Chicago, 1987), p. 231.
285 For St. Crisogono, see Hamann-Mac Lean, Grundlegung (see footnote 31), pp.268-269; for Pantokrator 61 (Athos, cod. 61), see S. Dufrenne,
Lillustrations des psautiers grecs du moyen-ge (Paris, 1966), pl. 58.
286 For a discussion on some of these examples, see Tomekovi, Les cycles hagiographiques (see footnote 276), pp. 1- 8.
287 Although the present arrangement of the scenes on the plaque is not chronological, a fact which resulted from later intervention, the original orga
nization of the events most likely followed the chronology of the life of the saint; see Kalavrezou-Maxeiner, Byzantine Icons in Steatite (see foot
note 284), Vol. 1, p. 128.
288 This largely applies to later times as well. One notable exception is found in the fourteenth-century Markov Manastir, Macedonia. Although de
voted to St. Demetrios, the church displays a hagiographic cycle of St. Nicholas; see evenko, Life of Saint Nicholas (see footnote 273), p. 156.
289 For a discussion, see S. Tomekovi, Les rpercussions du choix du saint patron sur le programme iconographique des glises du 12e sicle en Mac
doine et dans le Ploponnse, Zograf 12 (1981): 25-43.
290 Michael Psellus, Fourteen Byzantine Rulers, tr. by E. R. A. Sewter (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1966), pp. 105-106.

71

Chapter III
parallelism between the life of Christ and the life of
St. Panteleimon is further stressed through the composi
tion of scenes. As in the naos, the scenes in the narthex are
also juxtaposed, communicating their message about the
human sacrifice in space.
Formally, thematic parallels between the two sections of
the church contribute to the unity of its overall program.
On a more subtle level, however, by relating the life of the
saint to the life of Christ the patron emphasized his appre
ciation for, as well as his expectations from, the intercessor
in whom he placed his trust.291 Alexios hopes are further
clarified by the inclusion of the image of the Deesis. By
placing his private holy protector in close proximity to the
holy personages who intercede before Christ on behalf of
the entirety of human kind, Alexios made a clear request
that St. Panteleimon protect him both during and after his
terrestrial life.292

WESTERN CHAPELS
1. Introduction
The scenes in the narthex relate closely to the pair of
chapels adjacent to it. As we have already seen, the
architectural findings and comparative analysis indicate
that the western chapels were most likely used for funer
ary rites (north-west) and for thes rites of the benediction
of water (south-west). Consequently, the scenes of the ex
ecution and death of St. Panteleimon are portrayed in
proximity to the burial chapel, while the scene with water
precedes the chapel which might have been used for the
benediction of water.293 The images within the chapels,
however, are comprised of single saints, whose selection
and identity in most instances remains puzzling. This is
especially true of the south-west chapel, which exhibits a
medallion of Christ-Priest in the dome and eight saints
distributed in two registers on the walls (pl. 27; figs. XXV;
70). While the inclusion of Christ in his priestly function
indicates the liturgical connotations of the program, the

damages inflicted upon the figures of the saints prevent us


from any more specific conclusions about its meaning.294

2. North-West Chapel
The saints in the north-west chapel are better preserved
(pl. 26; figs. LXV-LXVII; 71-74). The opening into the
chapel is flanked by an image of St. Symeon the Stylite rep
resented on the east wall of the narthex (figs. LX).295 Orig
inating in Late Antique art, the representations of stylite
saints were most often placed on triumphal arches, pillars,
or the walls around entrances; they were commonly used
to announce important sections of the church (bema,
chapels, naos).296 The prominent positions of these saints
within the church are related to the moral values attached
to them. According to Orthodox teachings, the column on
which one of these saints lived represented not only his
home but also his strength and his Christian virtues. More
over, the steady column was also compared with mans
submission to God. We read in the Letters of John the Cli
macus that monks in prayer should have a posture of a still
column, showing therefore their strengths, virtues, and
faith.297 Consequently, the presence of the stylite saint in a
close proximity to the chapel certainly emphasizes the
Christian virtues of the deceased.
With the image of the Pantokrator in the dome, the
north-west chapel assumes the character of a mini-church,
and it has a tomb (pl. 26; figs. XXIII, XXIV). One would
like very much to be able to read in its painted decoration
the chapels purpose, above all to know whether this was
Alexios own tomb. Only with effort can the surviving
images be made to yield messages, however. One can
note, nonetheless, that healing saints are again prominent,
suggesting that the chapel participates in broader themes
of the program as a whole.
2.1. Five Martyrs of Armenia
The saints depicted on the walls of the north-west chapel
are well preserved and identifiable either by an inscription

291 See Maguire, The Art of Comparing in Byzantium (see footnote 273), pp. 94-99.
292 For the intercessory and other meanings of the Deesis, see Cutler, Under the Sign of the Deesis (see footnote 116), pp. 145-155; C. Walter, Two
Notes on the Deesis, REB 26 (1968): 311-336; Idem, Further Notes on the Deesis, REB 28 (1970): 161-187; and A. W. Carr, Gospel Fron
tispieces from the Comnenian Period, Gesta 21/1 (1982): 6-7.
293 See Chapter II, pp. 16-19.
294 All of the saints in this chapel occupy the entire width of the wall and are shown as life-size standing figures. The identity of these saints, however, re
mains unknown since none of the inscriptions has survived. The four saints depicted in the first zone exhibit strikingly similar facial features, all ap
pearing as young, beardless men with longish brown hair. Moreover, the saints are paired according to their costumes and their gestures. The saints on
the north and south walls are dressed in purple robes decorated with golden ornament and partially covered with green chlamys, while the saints on
the east and the west walls wear green robes, which are also decorated with golden borders, and covered with green chlamys. Further uniformity is
achieved by showing the figures on the north and east walls holding and pressing crosses to their chests, while the south and west images are shown
without crosses, but displaying similar gestures. While these four saints are probably martyrs, their individual identities remain obscure.
The standing figures beneath the arcades in the upper zone are mostly lost. The saint on the west wall is fully preserved, but lacking an identifying
inscription. He is shown as a youthful man with brown hair and a small oval beard, dressed in a green robe and purple mantle. The other three saints
are known on the basis of the lower portions of their faded garments.
295 His inscription is preserved; it reads .
296 For a discussion of the features of the stylite saints and their origin, see I. M. Djordjevi, Sveti stolpnici u srpskom zidnom slikarstvu, ZLU 18
(1982): 4 1 -5 2 ; and Idem, Die Sule und die Sulenheiligen als hellenistisches Erbe in der byzantinischen und serbischen Wandmalerei, JB 32/5
(1982): 93-100.
297 See J. R. Martin, The Illustration of the Heavenly Ladder of John Climacus (Princeton, 1954), pp. 150-163.

Chapter III

72
or by facial features (pl. 26; figs. LXV-LXVII; 71-74).298
Most notable damages are seen in the upper-most register.
Of the four figures rendered as standing underneath
painted arcades, only those on the west and on the north
walls remain intact.299 The saint on the west wall may be
identified as St. Mardarios (fig. LXVII), portrayed as an
old man with short gray hair and curly oval beard. He is
wearing a red hat, a short white tunic and a white mantle,
and his legs are wrapped in white strips of cloth.300 The
presence of St. Mardarios suggests that the remaining
saints in the zone may have been other martyrs of Arme
nia. The notion becomes more plausible when one consid
ers that the facial features of a young warrior with curly,
longish brown hair, who is represented in the lower regis
ter of the east wall, closely compare to representations of
St. Orestes (fig. 73).301 He holds a shield in his left hand
while triumphantly raising the spear in his right as if to
demonstrate his well renowned skill in spearmanship. If
indeed the five martyrs of Armenia were represented at
Nerezi, the gray-haired and bearded saint on the upper
section of the north wall could be identified as Auxentios,
as he is the oldest of the group.302 The two missing saints
under the arcades would thus have been St. Eugenios and
St. Eustratios (pl.26).303
The five Martyrs of Armenia were popular saints in
Byzantium, commonly represented in Byzantine churches
since the eleventh century. They are seen in manuscripts,
icons, as well as in major monastic foundations of the
eleventh century, such as Nea Moni, Daphni, and Hosios
Loukas, where they are depicted twice (in the naos and in
the north-west chapel). A wide dissemination of these
saints made scholars suggest that the popularity of their
cult must have been associated with Constantinople and
the imperial family.304 Moreover, the sources inform us
that the emperor Basil II donated the head of St. Eustratios

as a relic to the monastery of Great Lavra on Mount


Athos.305 Although tentative, the imperial associations
with the cult of these saints may have been intended at
Nerezi.306
The choice of these five saints at Nerezi is most likely re
lated to their healing powers. Like St. Panteleimon, the
Five martyrs of Armenia were also included among the
anargyroi saints, the holy physicians respected for their
miraculous cures.307 Moreover, they are frequently in
cluded within the context of funerary chapels, such as is a
case in Hosios Loukas, where they are placed underneath
the images of the Crucifixion and archangel Michael.308
Thus, by choosing to represent the Five Martyrs of Arme
nia, the patron of Nerezi has honored the profession of his
holy protector in the same manner in which he had done
so by the inclusion of a group of four holy physicians in
the diakonikon. However, while Alexios quest for the
saints intervention is only suggested in the diakonikon, it
is made much more personal in the north-west chapel with
the presence of a tomb which the patron, as mentioned
earlier, may have intended for his own burial.
2.2. St. Menas, St. Viktor, St. Vikentios
Another group of saints represented in the north
west chapel are St. Menas, St. Viktor, and St. Vikentios
(figs. 72, 74).309 St. Menas is represented as a standing
figure on the south wall, characteristically carrying the
medallion with the bust of Christ on his chest, while the
busts of Sts. Viktor and Vikentios are rendered as rectan
gular painted icons placed above the entrance on the west
wall. Although the feast of the three saints was celebrated
on the same day, November ll, their martyrdom oc
curred in different countries. St. Menas was martyred in
Egypt, St. Viktor in Italy, and St. Vikentios in Spain.310

298 Only two saints, placed in rectangular frames and flanking the entrance into the chapel, cannot be identified. The head of the upper saint is
destroyed; only a fragment of his upper torso, revealing that he once carried a book, has reamined. The lower saint, shown as carrying a cross, and
dressed in a green tunic and a purple mantle, is inscribed as [], . Unfortunatelly, it is impossible to determine which
Alexander is depicted there, since there were several martyrs by that name.
299 The images on the east and south walls are now known to us only by the lower portions of their ornamented garments.
300 The facial features of the saint resemble his portraits in Nea Moni, Chios, Panagia ton Chalkeon, Thessaloniki, and the north-west chapel of Hosios
Loukas. For representations of St. Mardarios, see Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), pp. 143-46; fig. 62; and T. Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Le pein
tures murales de Hosios Loukas (Athens, 1982), pp. 74-76; fig. 12.
301 At Nerezi, Orestes is dressed in a short blue tunic embroidered in gold at the hem, green cuirass, yellow pteryges, and a blue chlamys. For other
portrayals of St. Orestes, see Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), p. 144.
302 He is dressed in a richly ornamented long red tunic, golden tablion, and blue chlamys.
303 For discussion, bibliography, and representation of the Five martyrs of Armenia in art, see Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), pp. 143-46;
K. Weitzmann, Illustrations of Five Martyrs of Sebaste, DOP 33 (1979): 99-111; Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les Peintures Murales de Hosios Loukas
(see footnote 300), pp.7 4 -8 1 ; and Constantinides, Olympiotissa (see footnote 47), pp. 199-200.
304 For their association with the imperial family, see Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Les Peintures Murales de Hosios Loukas (see footnote 300), pp. 7 4 -81.
305 P. Lemerle, A. Guillou, N. Svoronos, D. Papachryssanthou, Actes de Lavra (Paris, 1970), Vol. 1, pp. 46, 114.
306 Mouriki, Nea Moni (see footnote 118), p. 147, however, pointed out, that there are no indications of special veneration of these saints in Constan
tinople.
307 For a listing of anargyroi saints, see Dionysios of Fourna, Hermeneia ts zgraphiks techns, ed. by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus (Saint Petersburg,
1909), p. 278. A hagiographic text also informs us that miraculous cures take place at St. Eustratios martyrion; see F. Halkin, pilogue dEusbe
de Sbaste la passion de S. Eustrate et de ses compagnons, Analecta Bollandiana 88 (1970): 279-283.
308 Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Le Peintures Murales de Hosios Loukas (see footnote 300), sch. VI.
309 All three saints are well preserved. St. Menas, is dressed in a red tunic and a blue chlamys. St. Viktor, inscribed as () , is portrayed as a
young man with brown hair and pointed beard, dressed in a green tunic and a richly ornamented chlamys tied with a fibula at the right arm.
St. Vikentios, inscribed as , is distinguished for his straight brown hair and oval beard; he is dressed in white garments, most of
which are destroyed.
310 Synaxarium, cols. 211 -214.

Chapter III
The three saints are represented together in a number of
twelfth-century churches, such as at Asinou and Lagoudera.311 The reasons for their invocation are unknown,
although it could be that Menas, Viktor, and Vikentios,
due to their different nationalities, respond to another
theme enunciated in the program as a whole: that of
ecumenism.312
2.3. St. Tryphon, St. Blasios, St. Mamas
The most prominently displayed triad of saints are
St. Tryphon, St. Blasios, and St. Mamas, otherwise rarely
depicted in Byzantine churches (figs.LXV, LXVI; 71 ).313
They are located above the arcosolium and distinguished
by their frames. The image of St. Tryphon is displayed in
a brick-colored medallion and it occupies the entire
width of the north wall (fig. 71); the painted icons of
St. Blasios and St. Mamas are flanking the window above
St. Tryphons medallion (figs.LXV, LXVI).314 Even in the
small size of the chapel, the artists used the juxtaposition
of images, a compositional formula applied throughout
the church, to assign a special prominence to the triad.
The image of St. Tryphon is facing directly the medallion
of Christ displayed on St. Menas chest (fig. 72), a spatial
parallel stressing the emphasis placed upon the interces
sory power of St. Tryphon and the triad as a whole. Like
the holy physicians, St. Tryphon, St. Blasios and St. Ma
mas are saints of poverty; their patronage, however, is re
lated to agriculture. All three saints are considered to be
protectors of shepherds, as indicated by a shepherds
crook which they carry. In addition, Sts. Blasios and
Mamas are particularly venerated by cattle-breeders, and
St. Tryphon is worshipped by gardeners and vinegrowers.
Thus, the protection and intercessory powers of these
saints were important for the well being of the monastic
community. The fact that St. Tryphon is mentioned in the
funerary liturgy, further explains his prominent position
within the chapel.

3. Summary
Although the painted decoration of the chapel does not
give any information about the identity of the deceased, the
selection of saints communicates his major concerns and
can be related to Alexios. While the triad of Sts. Menas,
Viktor and Vikentios indicates Alexios political ideals, the
choice of agricultural saints expresses his concern for the
monastic community, and most likely his own lands. More
over, the presence of the five martyrs of Armenia confirms

73
Alexios trust in the intercessory powers of the class of
saints to which his personal protector, St. Panteleimon, be
longs.
The narthex at Nerezi thus provides both an insight into
the personality of the patron, and an introduction to the
program of the main area of the church. The themes of
the passion and intercession, which dominate the naos of
Nerezi, are clearly announced in the narthex. However,
freed from programmatic constraints, Alexios chose to in
troduce the two themes by glorifying the sacrificial life of
his own protector saint. The scenes dedicated to the pas
sion and burial of St. Panteleimon adhere to the major the
matic and compositional tendencies of the main areas of
the church; yet they nonetheless reveal Alexios intention
to give prominence to the saint whose intercessory powers
were important for his personal salvation. By the same
token, the selection of other saints, particularly those in
the north-west chapel, expresses Alexios personal con
cerns. While the selection of individual saints in the naos
was mainly intended to appeal to the needs of the general
audience, and focused on popular imagery, the saints in the
north-west chapel reveal Alexios personal desire to ensure
eternal well being to his country, his land, and his own
soul.

PAINTED CYCLE: CONCLUDING REMARKS


1. Alexios
In sum, the examination of the painted cycle in the bema,
naos, narthex, and side chapels of Nerezi reveals a signifi
cant number of new iconographic features, innovative
compositional solutions, and a bold pictorial articulation
of architectural space. All these innovations reflect the
identity of the patron: his political views and aspirations,
and his private desires. As a private individual, Alexios
shared the common need of Byzantine aristocrats to
embellish his foundation with images which provided a
powerful avenue for personal salvation. This is at least
suggested by the prominence which Alexios gave to his
patron saint whose image, life, and profession are glorified
throughout the church. The special importance which
Nerezi held for Alexios is also suggested through the
presence of a tomb and the emphasis on the themes of
passion and intercession; they all indicate that Alexios may
have intended the church as a place of his own burial.
While unusual in their iconographic and compositional
solutions, both the images dedicated to the patron saint

311 For Asinou and Lagoudera, see Stylianou and Stylianou, Painted Churches on Cyprus (see footnote 50), pp. 132, 182.
312 For a discussion about the ecumenical symbolism related to these three saints, and for their representation in art, see Constantinides, Olympiotissa
(see footnote 47), pp. 236-38.
313 For a study on these three saints, see S. Gabeli, Contribution to the Iconography of Saint Mamas and Saints with Attributes, in: Praktika
B Diethnous kypriologikou synedriou (Levkosia, 1986), pp. 577-581.
314 St. Tryphon, inscribed as , instead of , is shown, as was traditional, as a young, beardless man dressed in a white tunic and
a brown mantle. St. Blasios, inscribed , is also young and beardless, and dressed in a white tunic and a brown mantle,
while St. Mamas, notable for his longish, curly brown hair, wears a white tunic and a green mantle; his inscription reads: () .

Chapter III

74
and the funerary themes are found in other twelfthcentury aristocratic foundations.315

2. Church Councils
The innovative aspects of the painted decoration at Nerezi,
however, go beyond common twelfth-century trends, and
reflect Alexios concern for and his ties with imperial poli
cies. For example, as shown in the earlier discussion, the
introduction of new liturgical scenes and motifs, such as
the Kiss of the Apostles, the procession of bishops and,
above all, the choir of angel-deacons who carry liturgical
implements and surround the images of Christ in the
domes reflect the imperial point of view in the current the
ological disputes. The impact of these disputes is also evi
dent in the emphasis given to the priestly function of
Christ, implied not only through the scene of the Com
munion, but also in the rare image of Christ-Priest in
the dome, and in the priestly function assigned to the
Christ-Child in the Presentation. The messages from the
Church Councils, stressing the dual nature of Christ, His
consubstantiality with the other members of the Holy
Trinity, and His human sacrifice perpetually re-enacted in
the liturgy, found their echo even in the rendition of the
choir of saints, as evident from the selection, grouping and
inscriptions of the highly original group of hymnogra
phers.
The impact of the Church Councils is, above all, skill
fully and uniquely articulated in carefully selected, emo
tionally saturated, and compositionally related scenes and
images from the terrestrial life of Christ. The selection,
prominent position, and artistically eloquent rendition of
the scenes of the Deposition and the Threnos set the tone
of the program, focused on the human sacrifice of Christ
and its dogmatic implications. The emphasis on the
passion is further articulated through the compositional
parallelism of juxtaposed scenes and images which face one
another across the space. Introduced in the hagiographic
cycle in the narthex, this compositional arrangement is
fully developed in the main area of the edifice occupied by
the congregation, the naos. With Christological images
bridging the space, the faithful are not only instructed
about individual aspects of the Christian dogma; they are
drawn and immersed into the realm of the spiritual world,
comforting, realistic, beautiful, and thus overwhelmingly
persuasive. Alexios intent to persuade the local audience
of the current dogmatic messages emanating from the
capital is also evident in the prominence he gave to the
saints who were especially venerated in Macedonia, such

as St. Andrew and a number of anargyroi saints, including


his own holy protector, St. Panteleimon.
The immediacy, urgency, and persuasiveness with which
the program at Nerezi captures an important moment of
Byzantine ecclesiastical history gives a specially distin
guished status to Alexios church within the context of
twelfth-century monumental art. Visualized in an elegant,
poetic, and refined pictorial language, the painted program
at Nerezi also reflects the close bond between the mem
bers of the Komnenian imperial clan and the importance
which the region of Macedonia held at the time. Above all,
the painted decoration at Nerezi reveals the intellectual
and financial resources, as well as the importance of its
patron. Forgotten in literary sources, a distinguished
member of the Komnenian aristocratic clan, Alexios An
gelos Komnenos, left an important legacy in Byzantine
civilization through his foundation.

3. Legacy
The impact of the novel and distinguished program at
Nerezi, however, continued to reverberate throughout
Byzantium long after Alexios was gone and the twelfthcentury theological disputes became obsolete. This is evi
dent in a number of iconographic scenes and motives
which appeared for the first time at Nerezi and were
adopted and developed in later art. Due to many losses of
monumental cycles in Constantinople and elsewhere, we
can not reconstruct the patterns of transmission of these
innovations with exactitude. However, although in most
instances the direct influence of Nerezi can not be estab
lished, it is apparent that a number of its novel icono
graphic features remained popular in Byzantium. While
some new motifs, such as the embracing Apostles in the
Communion, left an impact on local art, as seen in their
rendition in later Macedonian churches, many others,
such as the officiating bishops, angels in the dome, and
a group of Byzantine hymnographers, became wide
spread in Byzantium. For example, the novel, proces
sional arrangement of the bishops officiating before the
Hetoimasia, introduced at Nerezi, became a standard fea
ture of the programs of the Byzantine bema both during
the Middle-Byzantine, and later, Palaiologan periods.
Moreover, the liturgical connotations included in the im
age of the Hetoimasia at Nerezi, seemingly served as a
springing point for the development of the Eucharistic
image of Christ-Amnos, the image of Christ in the flesh
represented on the altar, prominently displayed in later
Byzantine monuments. Above all, the choir of angels in

315 No recurrent or canonical scheme of imagery has been identified as yet in Byzantium that would permit us to identify particular programs with
certainty as funerary. Thus each program, Nerezis included, has to be examined in its own right to ascertain the likelihood of its funerary implica
tions. For example, a considerable effort has been made by scholars to identify the representation of the Deesis in the apse as funerary. See N.
Thierry, A propos des peintures dAyvali ky, Cappadocie: Programmes absidaux a trois registres avec Deisis en Cappadocie et en Georgie, Zograf 5 (1974): 5 -2 2 ; and G. Babi, Les programmes apsidaux en Gorgie et dans les Balkans entre le X Ie et le X IIIe sicle, in: Larte georgiana,
dal I X a l X IV secolo. Atti del terzo Simposio internazionale sullarte georgiana, Bari-Lecce, 1 4 - 1 8 ottobre 1980 (Galatina, 1980), Vol. 1, pp. 117-136.
An instance in which the particular characteristics of the imagery clearly invite a funerary interpretation is evident in the Chora Parekklesion. See
R. Ousterhout, Temporal Structuring of the Chora Parekklesion, Gesta 34/1 (1995): 66-76.

75

Chapter III
the cupolas, rendered in procession and with liturgical
utensils, most likely represents incipient stages of the
scene of the Divine Liturgy, fully developed in fourteenth
century domes. It should also be noted that the distin
guished grouping of hymnographers, as well as the un
usual emphasis on the divinity of Christ within the scene
of the Presentation, is encountered in later art, as seen in
the Christos Church at Veroia, Virgins Church in Studenica, and Panagia Olympiotissa.
The legacy of Nerezi may be also detected in the com
positional arrangements of scenes in later monuments. The
juxtaposition of scenes which, as the governing organiza
tional principle appears for the first time at Nerezi (in the
preserved cycles), gained considerably in popularity in the
monuments post-dating Nerezi. As a fully developed or
ganizational system, it is encountered in later art, as seen in
the painted cycle of the thirteenth-century church of the

Virgin of Ljevika.316 Even the unusual emphasis on the


Passion of Christ, carefully achieved through a number of
devices in the naos of Nerezi, may find a distant echo in the
later, processional renditions of His burial cortege, seen,
for example in the fourteenth-century Markov Manastir.
Both programs were most likely inspired by the funerary
symbolism attached to the liturgical rite of the Great
Entrance, and articulated by Church Fathers, such as
Theodore of Mopsuestia, Germanus I, Pseudo-Sophronius, and Nicholas Cabasilas.317 While still symbolic at
Nerezi, the visualization of Christs Passion and his
sacrificial death became ceremonial in the Markov
Monastery, reflecting contemporary liturgical develop
ments. The distinguished status which Nerezis painted
cycle had in Byzantine art is, above all, evident in the re
finement and beauty of its execution, to which we will
now turn.

316 Personal observation. For illustrations, see Babi and Pani, Bogorodica Ljevika (see footnote 82), drawings of frescoes.
317 For interpretations of the liturgy in mystagogical writings, see R. F. Taft, The Byzantine Rite: a Short History (Collegeville, Minn., 1992).

CHAPTER IV

ARTISTS AND THEIR LEGACY

Nerezi was painted by at least four different artists. Dis


tinguished by their individual expressions, which will be
discussed below, the artists of Nerezi are nonetheless uni
fied in the refinement and high aesthetic achievement of
their style. The style of Nerezis paintings has been the
most discussed and the most praised aspect of this monu
ment.1 It is characterized by the elegance and sophisti
cation of the figures, by their psychological differentia
tion, by dramatic coloristic effects, and above all, by the
masterful handling of line (figs. X, XI). Line defines fig
ures, creates their draperies and physiognomies, articulates
movement and emotional content, facilitates tonal grada
tion, and unifies figures into larger compositional groups.
While the linearity of images at Nerezi complies with the
stylistic koine of twelfth-century art, the high quality of its
execution, as scholars have pointed out, suggests Constan
tinople as a source of influence. Moreover, since no painted
cycle from the middle of the twelfth century has been pre
served in the capital, Nerezi assumes an important role in
our understanding of the stylistic development of twelfthcentury Byzantine painting in general.

STYLE AND ICONOGRAPHY


The refinement of Nerezis style has been emphasized in
numerous studies. Another important aspect of the style at
Nerezi, its close bond with iconography, is still to be ex
plored. The contribution of visual modes of expression to
the meaning of the image in Byzantine art in general has
been discussed in the scholarly literature.2 The close rela
tionship between style and iconography in the art of the
twelfth century, however, is still to be explained. On the
most general level, this relationship is seen in the corre
spondence between the popularity of the new ascetic ideal
of the holy man in twelfth-century Byzantine society, and
the introduction of flat, linearly conceived, incorporeal
images in the art of that period. This contention, while
probably apparent in many instances, carries little, if any
significance at Nerezi. It is true that images at Nerezi are
slender, linear, and deprived of any corporeal substance.
Such treatment of figures, however, does not reveal more
than that Nerezis artists followed a general trend of the

Komnenian stylistic koine prominent throughout Byzan


tium. The qualities of hesychia and apathia, however,
so much valued by asceticism, are absent at Nerezi. In
stead, all formal means of expression are focused on stress
ing the iconographic message of the cycle. A deep appreci
ation for the humanity of God and the physical reality of
the Eucharist, enhanced through the emotive and partici
patory nature of the program, is achieved by both icono
graphic and stylistic means.
The impact of the formal, visual means (style) on the
meaning of the cycle (iconographic message), and the
extent to which the combination of the two unifies the
program is evident throughout the church. It is perhaps
best exemplified in the scene of the Threnos (figs. XLVI,
XLVIII). The Threnos at Nerezi has been recognized as
one of the most distinguished scenes of Byzantine art.
Iconographic parallels for this scene are found in both ear
lier and later art, as demonstrated in the foregoing discus
sion. However, the powerful, dramatic impact of Nerezis
scene is unprecedented. It was the genius of Nerezis mas
ter to have created a refined rhythm of curvilinear forms
and vivacious coloristic effects that enhanced the emo
tional content of the scene. All available formal elements in
this scene are expressive of its meaning.
A clear demarcation line between style and iconography
is difficult to establish. The unnaturally strenuous posture
of the Virgin, her legs spread around Christs body and
supporting its weight only by the tips of one knee and toes,
may be considered as an iconographic feature. Its impact
on the compositional arrangement of the scene, however,
forces us to perceive it as a powerful visual device; it ac
centuates the dynamic pattern of the composition and thus
contributes to the dramatic impact of the scene. Whether
this attempt at compositional integration is to be seen as an
iconographic or as a stylistic feature is difficult to say; in
fact, it seems that in some instances it is impossible to
distinguish between the two.
That style, as much as iconography, was the conveyer of
the meaning of Nerezis painted cycle is evident from all
aspects of the formal articulation of images and scenes,
such as the composition of the program as a whole, the
composition of individual scenes, psychological character
ization and drapery formations of figures, as well as the
expressive use of colors.

1 The earliest discussion of the style of Nerezis paintings is by N. Okunev, who actually discovered and first published the twelfth-century cycle; see
N. Okunev, La dcouverte des anciennes fresques de Nrez, Slavia 6 (1927): 603-609. Subsequently, a description and stylistic analysis of the select
number of paintings appeared in F. Mesesnel, Najstariji sloj fresaka u Nerezima. Stilska studija, GSND 7/8 (1930): 119-133; M. Rajkovi, Iz
likovne problematike nereskog ivopisa, ZRVI 3 (1955): 195-206; and P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Nerezi (Belgrade, 1966). It is also important to note that
the style of Nerezis paintings has been discussed in almost all studies dealing with Byzantine painting of the twelfth century.
2 For a discussion and earlier bibliography, see H. Maguire, Disembodiment and Corporality in Byzantine Images of the Saints, in: Iconography at
the Crossroads, ed. by B. Cassidy (Princeton, 1993), pp.76 -8 3 ; Idem, Style and Ideology in Byzantine Imperial A rt, Gesta 28/2 (1989): 217-231;
and A. P. Kazhdan and A. W. Epstein, Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Los Angeles, 1985), pp. 206-220.

Chapter IV
COMPOSITION
The formal integration of the scenes and images at Nerezi,
a powerful compositional device which considerably con
tributed to the unity of the programmatic message of the
cycle, has been discussed in the previous chapter. Monu
mental scenes, as well as single images, are carefully coor
dinated with one another, integrated with the architecture,
and formally unified through their corresponding shape,
size and figure formation.

77
twelfth century. We see it, for example, in Monreale,
at the Martorana in Palermo, and in the church of Spas
Nereditsa.6 In these monuments, the borders framing
the scenes have been eliminated, and the scenes flow into
each other as a strip narrative. However, the number of
characters within each particular scene is multiplied, and
the monumental, symbolic concept of Nerezi is replaced
by an emphasis on narrative. Thus, the compositional
integration of the program at Nerezi reflects a tendency
seen in the mid-twelfth century; although modified, this
tendency made an impact on later monuments.

1. Compositional Integration of the Program


as a Whole

2. Compositional Integration of Individual Scenes

The unification of the scenes and single figures at Nerezi


represents a departure from the earlier pictorial traditions
of late eleventh/early twelfth-century monumental art.
For example, in the early twelfth-century painted cycles at
Pskov, Cefalu, and Asinou, the actors of the scenes are no
tably segregated from one another and from the archi
tectural framework. 3 Even at the church of the Virgin
Kosmosoteira at Pherrai, dated c. 1152 and stylistically re
lated to Nerezi by scholars, the formal integration of the
scenes and images, so much emphasized at Nerezi, appears
to be absent. For example, the Annunciation at Pherrai, as
at Nerezi, is divided by the full width of the cross-armed
vault. Yet, at Pherrai, no attempt was made to bridge the
gap by accentuating the interaction between the two fig
ures. The integrity of architectural division was thus main
tained. The static rendition of the Annunciation and the
numerous wall apertures which would make an attempt to
spatially relate scenes difficult, suggest that paintings at
Pherrai most likely represent the painted style which pre
ceded Nerezi; yet, due to considerable losses, conclusions
about the composition of the scenes remain tentative.4
Similar efforts to unite the program as at Nerezi are seen
in the mosaic cycle of the eastern portion of the Cappella
Palatina, Palermo.5As at Nerezi, the scenes in the Cappella
Palatina impose upon the architecture, their size, corre
sponding shapes and motifs on the facing walls, as well as
their iconographic relationship correlating all parts of the
decoration into a coherent whole.
The close formal and programmatic relationship be
tween the scenes, evident at Nerezi and in the Cappella
Palatina, becomes widespread in the latter half of the

The same tendency to unify, seen in the design of the pro


gram as a whole, is employed in the composition of single
scenes. The scenes at Nerezi are characterized by a small
number of participants who are closely related to each
other and to the background. A variety of compositional
formulae is used to achieve different psychological effects
and to communicate a wide range of different moods. The
solemn, processional character of the Presentation in the
Temple is achieved by the rhythm of pronounced verticals
(fig. XXXVII), the diagonal lines in the Entry Into Jeru
salem emphasize the drama of the events to come
(fig. XLIV), while the curvature of the intertwined bodies
in the Deposition and the Threnos emphasizes emotional
content and human suffering (figs. XLV, XLVI). In all these
instances, the choice of compositional pattern is intended
to elucidate the meaning of the scene.
That Nerezis artists intended to emphasize the mes
sage of the program not only through its iconography,
but also through formal, compositional means, becomes
apparent from their choice of novel, psychologically
powerful compositional devices. For example, while
the compositional formulae of the Presentation and the
Entry into Jerusalem are known from earlier Byzantine
art, the refined rhythm of curvilinear forms in the Depo
sition and the Threnos is unique. In both the Deposition
and the Threnos, the figures are combined in an arched
composition leaning towards the circle of the heads of the
Virgin and Christ which almost overlap in their closeness
(figs. XLV, XLVIII; 45, 47). The whole group is arranged
in a dynamic pattern, with all the figures firmly inter
locked.

3 For Pskov, see V. Lazarev, Old Russian Murals and Mosaics: From X I to the XVI Centuries (London, 1966), pp. 99 - 108 ; for Cefalu, see O. Demus,
The Mosaics of Norman Sicily (London, 1949), pp. 14-2 5 ; for Asinou, see A. H. S. Megaw, Byzantine Architecture and Decoration in Cyprus: Met
ropolitan or Provincial, DOP 28 (1974): 8 1-8 4 ; M. Sacopoulo, Asinou en 1106 (Brussels, 1966); D. C. Winfield and E. J. W. Hawkins, The Church
of Our Lady at Asinou, Cyprus, DOP 21 (1967): 261 -26 5 ; and D. Mouriki, Stylistic Trends in Monumental Painting in Greece during the Eleventh
and Twelfth Centuries, DOP 34/35 (1982): 100- 101.
4 The Annunciation at Pherrai is placed on the eastern side of the west piers of the naos; see S. Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira in Bera (Vira)
(Munich, 1985), pp. 177-206; pl. 13; figs. 136-138; and Mouriki, Stylistic Trends (see footnote 3), pp. 103-105.
5 Its execution apparently took place in two phases, one in the forties, the other in the sixties of the twelfth century. See Demus, Mosaics of Norman
Sicily (see footnote 3), pp. 2 5 -4 6 ; E. Kitzinger, The Mosaics of Cappella Palatina in Palermo. An Essay on the Choice and Arrangement of Sub
jects, AB 31 (1949): 269-292. For general views of the interior mosaic decoration, see E. Borsook, Messages in Mosaic: The Royal Programmes of
Norman Sicily, 11 3 0 -118 7 (Oxford, 1988), figs. 17-19, 25, 26.
6 For Monreale, see E. Kitzinger, The Mosaics of Monreale (Palermo, 1960), pp. 140-144; and Borsook, Messages in Mosaic (see footnote 5), figs. 62, 64,
68, 69; for Cappella Palatina, see E. Kitzinger, I mosaici del periodo normanno in Sicilia. Fasc. 2. La Cappella Palatina di Palermo (Palermo, 1992),
figs. 25, 26; for Nereditsa, see Lazarev, Old Russian Murals and Mosaics (see footnote 3), pp. 116-133.

Chapter IV

78
Landscape and architecture further contribute to the
unity of the scenes. Both are very limited. Little effort was
made either to construct the space or to specify the place
of action. Even a distinction between exterior and interior
is hardly discernible. Except for the Presentation, where
the interior is distinguished by a marble pavement, in all
other scenes the figures are placed against two strips of
light and dark green which reach the height of approxi
mately 30-40 cm. Above it, and covering most of the
space of the scene, is a deep blue background.
Although architecture and landscape are occasionally
used to distribute figures in different planes, the artists in
terest in creating a sense of depth is minimal. This conser
vatism in the rendering of space seems to be intentional.
Instead of narrating, the artist is more interested in com
municating the symbolic impact of the event. Thus, archi
tecture and landscape are used as compositional devices,
meant to emphasize individual actors. In the Presentation,
the use of similar columns on the ciborium and on the
flanking buildings accentuates the vertical rhythm of the
figures (fig. XXXVII). The hills in the Transfiguration
amplify the curvature of the bent bodies of the apostles
(fig. XL), and the slanting hill in the Threnos frames and
emphasizes the contours of the group formed by the out
stretched body of Christ upheld by the Virgin (fig. XLVI).
As O. Demus pointed out, the figures and landscape are so
interlocked that no single motif has an isolated existence.
Each composition is an indivisible unit.7

3. Sources
The compositional sources of individual scenes at Nerezi
may be found in twelfth-century manuscripts from Constan
tinople.8The integration of composition through the curvi
linear outlines of landscape is evident, for example, in the
Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus, Mount Sinai, cod. 339.9
In the Nativity of Christ, (fol. 91r), the groups of figures are
unified into a coherent composition by the curvilinear pat
tern of the hills in the background. The tight cluster of figures
evident at Nerezi, however, is not achieved in these minia
tures. The golden ground intervenes between the characters,
and the dynamic tension, which so strongly characterizes the
groups of figures at Nerezi, is absent in these miniatures.
More closely comparable to Nerezi are the illustrations
of the Homilies of James Kokkinobaphos, preserved today
in two manuscripts, Vat. gr. 1162 and Paris, gr. 1208, and

the scenes represented in the Gospel Book, Vat. Urb. gr. 2.


The illuminations in these manuscripts exhibit a close
relationship between groups of figures, especially those
of attendants and choruses.10 Moreover, figures in these
manuscripts, like the figures at Nerezi, are framed by
larger forms which repeat their contours. If one considers,
for example, the scene of the Baptism in Vat. Urb. gr. 2 (fol.
109 v), one sees that the participants are correlated by their
dynamic gestures; the groups of attendants are carefully
framed by an arched mountain, while the zig-zag contours
of the river echo the rhythm of their gestures.11

FIGURES
Twelfth-century Constantinopolitan manuscripts provide
a source for tracing the origin of Nerezis figures, both in
terms of their proportions and in terms of their psycho
logical characterization. Figures at Nerezi are character
ized by the sophistication and elegance of their postures
and gestures, by elongated proportions, and by linear ar
ticulation of forms. They are flat and outlined in thick col
ored lines. It is by means of lines that bodies acquire vol
ume and faces gain psychological characterization.

1. Proportions
The proportions of figures at Nerezi vary according to
their postures, gestures, and the context is which they are
represented. Most figures exhibit the classical canon of pro
portions measuring seven heads to the body.12That canon
was commonly used during the eleventh century, such as in
the majority of images in the mosaics of Hosios Loukas,
Nea Moni and Daphni. It continued to be popular in the
twelfth century, as seen in the Cappella Palatina, at Cefalu,
and in St. Stephen at Kastoria. In some instances, however,
the painters of Nerezi continued the trend toward increas
ing elongation apparent already in the Constantinopolitan
manuscripts of the first half of the century. For example, in
Vat. Urb. gr. 1162, a number of figures are elongated, ex
hibiting 7.5 or even 8 heads to the body.13 Following that
trend, most of the standing saints at Nerezi contain 8 heads
to the body (figs. 50 - 62,64-70); Christ in the Threnos has
8.5 heads to the body (fig. XLVI), and St. John in the De
position even measures 9 heads to the body (fig. XLV).

7 O. Demus, Mosaics of Norman Sicily, pp. 419-420.


8 J. Anderson, An Examination of Two Twelfth-Century Centers of Byzantine Manuscript Production (Ph. D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1976).
9 See K. Weitzmann and G. Galavaris, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai: The Illuminated Greek Manuscripts (Princeton, 1991), Cat.
No. 56, pp. 140-153, fig. 479; and J. Anderson, Illustration of Cod. Sinai, Gr. 339, AB 61 (1979): pp. 167-185.
10 See I. Hutter, ed., Das Marienhomiliar des Mnchs Jakobos von Kokkinobaphos (Zurich, 1991); for a discussion, see J. Anderson, The Illustrated
Sermons of James the Monk: their Dates, Order, and Place in the History of Byzantine A rt, Viator 22 (1991): 69-120. For Vat. Urb. gr. 2, see C. Stornajolo, Miniature delle omilie di Giacomo monaco (cod. Vatic, gr. 1162) e dell evangeliario greco urbinate (cod. Vatic. Urbin. gr. 2) (Rome, 1910).
11 Stornajolo, Miniature delle omilie di Giacomo monaco (see footnote 10), p. 86; and J. M. Plotzek and U. Surmann, eds., Biblioteca Apostolica Vati
cana: Liturgie und Andacht im Mittelalter (Exhibition Catalogue, Stuttgart, 1992), No. 24, pp. 138-141.
12 For a discussion of proportions in Byzantine art, see J. and D. Winfield, Proportions and Structure of the Human figure in Byzantine Wall-Painting
and Mosaic (Oxford, 1982), pp. 60-66.
13 Monastic saints in Vat. Urb. gr. 1162, (fol. 5) show 7.5 heads to the body, and St. Anna in the Return of St. Joachim, (fol. 16v), has 8 heads to the body.

79

Chapter IV
While the canon of seven heads to the body was used
commonly in the monuments of the first half of the twelfth
century, beginning with Nerezi a canon of more than seven
heads becomes predominant. It is found, for example, in the
churches of St. George at Staraya Ladoga, Panagia tou
Arakou at Lagoudera, and St. George at Kurbinovo, where
the majority of figures feature proportions of eight, nine or
even ten heads to the body.14
The elongated figures at Nerezi lack anatomical accuracy.
For example, feet are often painted sketchily, like tiny
patches, such as the Virgins feet in the Threnos (fig. XLVIII),
or Josephs in the Deposition (fig. XLV). Also, the muscula
ture of exposed portions of bodies is shown schematically, as
can be seen in the image of Joseph of Arimathea in the Depo
sition or Christs figure in the Threnos. Perhaps the most ob
vious example that shows the extent to which the painter of
Nerezi ignored anatomy is seen in the image of Salome in the
Birth of the Virgin (fig. 43). Her left arm has no organic link
with the body and appears to be an independent member
added to support the vase with offerings.
2. Linearism
Instead of anatomical accuracy, the figures at Nerezi are
modeled by the linear patterns of their draperies. Draperies
define bodies, articulate movements, and serve as composi
tional devices having a life of their own. They envelop fig
ures with a number of folds which fall in complex designs circular, meander, serpentine - modeled by bundled lines
and patches. The effect is one of a dynamic, richly articu
lated surface having an almost low-relief-like quality.
The linear, almost calligraphic treatment of draperies
adds vitality to the figures. The rhythmical pattern of diag
onals and zig-zag lines of the upper mantle of St. John
in the Deposition extends the curvature of his body and
directs the movement towards the emotional center of the
composition - to the figures of the Virgin and dead Christ
(figs. XLV; 45). Likewise, the dramatic impact of Christs
Entry into Jerusalem is further accentuated by his swirling
drapery executed in a bundle of calligraphic lines which
form zig-zag patterns, knots, V-shapes, meanders and diag
onals (fig. XLIV). It appears as though the wind, emanating
from some unknown source, has agitated it. The same effect
is achieved in the drapery of Christ in the Transfiguration
(fig. XL), and on the garment of St. Prokopios (fig. 60). In
all these instances, drapery is executed as calligraphic bun
dles which fly without rhyme or reason, accentuating the
dramatic appearance of the figures, while at the same time
adding energy and vibrancy to the entire scene.
3. Color and Line
The vibrancy of figures at Nerezi is further enhanced by
colors. A gamut of different shades of blue, ocher, pink,

pastel and olive green is applied in lines which cover


draperies in a web-like tracery. The use of white is partic
ularly important. Lines and patches of white are employed
to highlight facial features and draperies, isolate shadows,
and soften coloristic contrasts. White is also used in tonal
gradation of colors.
Multiplication of tones, meant to render new nuances, is
extensively developed at Nerezi. In addition to three tones
within the same color range, widespread in the majority of
Byzantine churches, Nerezi exhibits a bold association of
four or even five tones. There are a number of instances
where shade and light are of a different color than the base.
For example, the garment of St. John in the Threnos is pale
blue and the shades of violet are illuminated by large zones
of white (fig. XLVI). The drapery of the female saint in the
Threnos has an even more complex combination. Her
mantle is green and the base is shaded in a lighter green.
Her undergarment is rouge, and the light is composed of
two blues of differing intensities.
Both coloristic and tonal principles are employed at
Nerezi. As far as the coloristic principle is concerned, the
Presentation and the Transfiguration are the most intense
of the scenes (figs. XXXVII, XL). Bold combinations of
red, green, yellow, pink, orange, purple, and white create a
lively coloristic scheme, adding drama and vitality to these
compositions. While contrasts characterize the majority of
the scenes at Nerezi, the Deposition and the Threnos were
executed by means of tonal gradations (figs. XLV, XLVI).
The palette in these two scenes is much more subdued and
monochromatic than in the rest of the program. Ocher,
gray-blue, and pastel green are dominant colors, occasion
ally with an almost watercolor effect, underlining the
somber mood of the event. As discussed in the previous
chapter, the colors, much like the other elements of
Nerezis style, adhere and contribute to the emotional
content and the dramatic impact of the scenes.

4. Faces
The faces at Nerezi, like the draperies, are modeled by col
oristic, linear patterns. They are distinguished for their in
dividuality and expressiveness. The painters of Nerezi
were seemingly interested in portraying different emo
tional conditions and character through the physiog
nomies of their actors. The expressiveness and psycholog
ical characterization of the faces of Nerezi, in their realistic
appearance, were also most likely intended to appeal to the
contemporary beholder, thus contributing to the human
and persuasive nature of the program.
The artists interest in showing psychological condi
tions and emotional stages of the characters is best seen in
the figures which recur within the program, such as the
image of the Virgin. In the prothesis her face is smooth, her
eyebrows arched high above the almond-shaped eyes, her

14 For the proportions in these monuments, see L. Hadermann-Misguich, Kurbinovo. Les fresques de Saint-Georges et la peinture byzantine du X IIe
sicle (Brussels, 1975), pp. 371 -375.

Chapter IV

80
lips full; everything about her indicates serenity, youth and
authority with which she conducts a prayer on behalf of
both painted saints and physically present beholders
(fig. 27). Already in the Presentation, the slanting eye
brows and the shadows underneath the Virgins eyes, indi
cate her worry through the anticipation of forthcoming
sorrow and suffering foreshadowed in the event (fig. 37).
In the Threnos, everything about the Virgin expresses her
pain (fig.47). The Virgins eyes and eyebrows are slanted,
her lips are reduced to a thick line, and her face is textured
with a number of thick white lines. The expression of emo
tional struggle and pain agrees with her posture, her legs
wrapping around the body of Christ in an unnatural way
(fig. XLVI). The Virgins human, sorrowful expression is
juxtaposed with the serene, relaxed face of Christ, his eyes
closed, his eyebrows arched and symmetrical, his mouth
closed. This juxtaposition represents one of the highest
dramatic contrasts in Byzantine art (figs. XLVIII; 47).
The faces at Nerezi are also distinguished by a great
variety of facial types. On the one hand, Nerezis painters
adhere to the general trends in Komnenian art by drawing
oblong faces with almond shaped eyes and aquiline noses.
Within this convention, however, the painter uses many
variations. The oblong shapes receive a more angular treat
ment, as in the faces of St. Sampson and St. John the The
ologian (figs. 20, 35); or more triangular, as in the holy
warriors (figs. 56-58; 60-63); or somewhat rounded, as in
the face of St. Tryphon (fig. 71). Moreover, variations in the
treatment of facial features, different noses, chins, eye
brows, and beards, create a whole gallery of human phys
iognomies, particularly apparent in the treatment of the
saints in the lower zone.
In faces, as in the draperies, the line, applied either in
thin strokes, almost calligraphically, or in thick, strong,
gestural strokes, breaks the surface and serves as a major
means of expression. If one considers, for example, some
of the most successful faces at Nerezi, such as St. Pantelei
mons (figs.XLIX; 83), St. Tryphons (fig. 71), St. Kosmas
(fig. XXXIII), St. Damianos (fig. XXXII), and St. Symeons (fig. 38), the capacity of Nerezis painters to use a
wide variety of means in portraying different characters
becomes readily apparent. In the portraits of Sts. Kosmas
and Damianos, their facial features and hair are heavily
outlined and characterized by thick, well defined lines and
patches, strong shading, wide strokes of brown and rouge,
and bright linear highlights (figs. XXXII, XXXIII). On the
other hand, the face of St. Panteleimon has a soft, lyrical
expression, achieved by a masterful handling of a series of
delicate, rouge and white lines, drawn in an almost calli

graphic manner (figs. XLIX; 83). St. Tryphon is also char


acterized by a soft, almost lyrical expression; yet the brush
strokes are thicker, white highlights more pronounced,
and the face is treated in a more summary fashion than St.
Panteleimons (fig. 71). Quite unlike these faces, the por
trait of St. Symeon shows almost fragmented facial planes
(fig. 38). Thus, in creating physiognomies, the artist ex
plored expressive qualities of line and color to the fullest.

THE ORIGINS OF NEREZIS STYLE


The vibrancy of images at Nerezi achieved by nervous
line which animates the faces, translates emotions, and
gives a characteristic instability to the postures and agita
tion to draperies finds no parallel in earlier art. Several
works of art, mostly of Constantinopolitan provenance,
however, anticipate the style of Nerezi. The paintings at
Pherrai exhibit most of the basic conventions of the Kom
nenian style. Line is used not only for outlining but also
for describing the drapery, the modeling of the face is elab
orate, with extensive use of shading, and the artist took an
ornamental approach to garments. Certain parallels in
figure style between Pherrai and Nerezi are noticeable.
For example, the warriors in both churches share similar
costumes and physical types, as can be exemplified by
comparing representations of St. Theodore at Nerezi and
at Pherrai (figs. 62, 63).15 There can be no doubt that both
are products of the same metropolitan tradition.
Nevertheless, the figures at Pherrai do not posses the ex
traordinary expressiveness and intricate web of highlights
of the actors in the scenes at Nerezi. The linear effect is
subdued by tonal modeling, there is no fragmentation of
volumes, and the drapery acquires a sculpted appearance.
Such an approach is closer to the paintings of the first half
of the century, such as those at Cefalu, than it is to Nerezi.
Similarities in facial types suggest that the artists from the
two churches may have shared the same prototypes or
model books, both of which, in all likelihood, originated
from the same Constantinopolitan source.16
The elongated, elegant and refined forms of the figures at
Nerezi have a closer parallel in the mosaic of Emperor
John II Komnenos and his wife Irene in the south gallery of
Hagia Sophia, Constantinople, 1118-1122.17Facial features
delicately delineated by tiny lines in Hagia Sophia are simi
lar to faces at Nerezi. Particularly close are the faces of Irene
and St. Panteleimon, both exhibiting an oval shape, a
stylized curvilinear pattern which defines eyes, nose and

15 For the image of St. Theodore at Pherrai, see Sinos, Die Klosterkirche der Kosmosoteira (see footnote 4), fig. 123.
16 The paintings at Nerezi have been also compared to Pskov. Linear stylization of figures, the web of lines which intersects and divides draperies and
faces, the apparent flatness of images, as well as the individualization of faces, led V. Lazarev to associate the painted cycle of Pskov with the Nerezi
master. While the linear treatment of both draperies and faces at Pskov anticipates similar mannerisms at Nerezi, the rigidity of this style, as well as
its provincial quality, still separate these paintings from Nerezi. Moreover, the figures at Pskov are fairly static, the drapery lacks the fluffiness and
softness of that at Nerezi, and despite the artists attempt to show psychological characterization of figures, they are still schematic. See Lazarev, Old
Russian Murals and Mosaics (see footnote 3), pp. 99-108.
17 C. Mango, Materials for the Study of the Mosaics of St. Sophia at Istanbul (Washington, 1962), p. 23; and T. Whittemore, The Mosaics of Hagia Sophia
at Istanbul. The Imperial Portraits of the South Gallery (Boston, 1942).

Chapter IV
mouth (both have a thin mouth and slightly open eyes), and
a subtly outlined series of parallel, calligraphic, rouge lines
on their cheeks. Moreover, both are lacking psychological
animation; instead, they are iconic, authoritative and force
ful appearances. Yet, the vitality emanating from St. Pan
teleimon is conspicuously absent from the image of Irene.
The swiftly moving figures, agitated, wind blown
draperies with an ornamental and sometimes repetitive
elaboration of detail apparent in Nerezi are anticipated
in the icons of the Annunciation from Ohrid (1108
1120) and the Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1120-1130),
and in the twin manuscripts of the Homilies of James
Kokkinobaphos.18Moreover, differentiation of facia types,
so dominant at Nerezi, is rather pronounced in the Con
stantinopolitan manuscripts. The groups of saints in Vat.
gr. 1162, fol. 5 are distinguished for their pronounced facial
features, monastic saints being particularly close to those
represented at Nerezi.19
Incipient stages of the emotional content of Nerezis im
agery are found, for example, in the icon of the Virgin of
Vladimir.20 The faces of mother and Child drawn closely
together with their cheeks pressed against each other, echo
similar groupings at Nerezi. Moreover, the chrysographic
treatment of Christs drapery, with a network of sharp,
golden lines, anticipates the vibrancy of Nerezis imagery.21

LINEARISM: CONSTANTINOPOLITAN
OR PROVINCIAL?
The foregoing discussion has established the Constanti
nopolitan provenance of many stylistic elements at Nerezi,
such as the psychological characterization of figures, their
elongated proportions, as well as the compositional pat
terns employed in individual scenes. The origin of the ex
pressive, nervous linearism of the draperies, however, is
somewhat more difficult to establish. On the one hand, it
could be interpreted as a regional version of the style which
originated in the capital. Such interpretation would at least
conform with the label of provincial mannerism assigned to
the dynamic linear style which developed in the provincial
monuments of the late twelfth century; it is seen, for exam
ple, in Kurbinovo and Lagoudera. Within that context,

81
Nerezi would represent an initial stage in the development
of the regional interpretation of the metropolitan style. The
loss of mid-twelfth-century cycles from the capital, how
ever, as well as the virtual absence of Macedonian monu
ments which exhibit linear tendencies and precede Nerezi,
present danger for any such claim. Dynamic linearism of
the later half of the twelfth century might indeed represent
a provincial feature. This feature, especially in Macedonian
monuments, such as Kurbinovo, might have been devel
oped under the influence of Nerezi.
On the other hand, however, linear tendencies define the
style of the later half of the century and are evident in Con
stantinopolitan icons, mosaics and manuscripts. Studied
by a number of scholars, linearism and humanistic tenden
cies were distinguished as the most important features of
artistic production under the Komnenian dynasty both in
the capital and in the provinces.22 In all of these studies,
Nerezi is distinguished as the prime monument: it absorbs
and formulates the artistic trends of earlier metropolitan
art while providing, at the same time, a rich legacy for
artistic developments of the later half of the century. How
much of its fame is a consequence of stylistic trends devel
oped in its own region is, however, impossible to say due
to the absence of evidence.
The Constantinopolitan origin of many features of
Nerezis style does not necessarily imply that the artists
were imported from the capital, too. On the contrary, the
high quality and Constantinopolitan provenance of many
features in the churches geographically and chronologi
cally related to Nerezi, such as the church of Hosios David
in Thessaloniki and the church of the Transfiguration at
Chortiatis, suggest that a team of highly skilled artists exis
ted in the region at the time when Nerezi was built.

ARTISTS, ATTRIBUTION
The style of Nerezis paintings shows that the same tenden
cies were developed throughout the church. The quality of
execution, however, reveals that at least four painters worked
there. Moreover, preserved twelfth-century paintings in the
south porch of the church of the Virgin Eleousa, Veljusa, and
H.Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi, Kastoria, indicate that Nerezis
painters perpetuated this tradition in Macedonia.23

18 For the Annunciation from Ohrid, see K. Weitzmann, M. Chatzidakis, and S. Radoji, Icons (New York, Belgrade, 1980), pp. 158-159, 228; for a
discussion, see P. Miljkovi-Pepek, La collection Macedonienne dicones du X Ie au commencement du XVe sicle, Corso di cultura sulVarte
Ravennate e Bizantina 33 (1986): 311-334, fig. 3; for Moscow icon, see Katalog drevnoerusskoi zhivopisi. Vol. 1 X I - nachalo XVI veka, ed. by V.
I. Antonova and N. E. Mneva (Moscow, 1963), figs. 19 -2 1.
19 Stornajolo, Miniature delle omilie di Giacomo monaco (see footnote 10), p. 3.
20 For a discussion and photograph, see H. Belting, An Image and Its Function in the Liturgy: The Man of Sorrows in Byzantium, DOP 34/35
(1980-81): 1-17, fig. 12.
21 It is possible that this technique, often used in miniatures and icons, actually influenced monumental art. For a discussion on the use of chrysography, see A. W. Carr and L. J. Morrocco, A Byzantine Masterpiece Recovered. The Thirteenth-Century Murals of Lysi, Cyprus (Austin, 1991),
pp.70-71.
22 For discussions on the stylistic features of twelfth-century art and earlier historiography, see Mouriki, Stylistic Trends (see footnote 3),
pp. 100-124; V. Djuric, La peinture murale byzantine X IIe et X IIIe sicles, in: XVe congrs, pp. 1 -9 6 ; L. Hadermann-Misguich, Lapeinture mon
umentale tardo-comnne et ses prolongements au XlIIe sicle, in: XVe congrs, pp. 99-127; and Lazarev, Zhivopis X I-X II vekov v Makedonii,
in: XVe congrs, pp. 105-134.
23 For Veljusa, see P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Veljusa. Manastir Sv. Bogorodica Milostiva vo seloto Veljusa kraj Strumica (Skopje, 1981), pp. 230-233; for
Hagios Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi, see S. Pelekanides and M. Chatzidakis, Kastoria (Athens, 1985), pp. 50-66.

Chapter IV

82
The major artist of Nerezi, judging by the refined
features of his style, was likely trained in the Constanti
nopolitan tradition, either in Constantinople itself, or by a
Constantinopolitan master who resided in the region
(figs.XLV, XLVI, XLVIII-L). It seems that he painted
most of the figures and scenes in the naos. He uses quick
brush strokes, applies white in thick, almost relief-like lay
ers, and achieves a high linear stylization in the treatment
of draperies. His draperies are fluffy, with soft shadings
and vibrating lines. The major artist is also very skilled in
applying white, which has an almost metallic quality,
giving crispness to the folds. The lines are of varied thick
ness, from wide strokes to the thin, calligraphic ones seen
in the face of St. Panteleimon (fig. XLIX). His contours are
soft, shadows thin, and images are modeled with more
subtlety than in any other parts of the church.
The painter who worked in the sanctuary is distin
guished for geometrically conceived faces. The faces are
covered with white shadows which are distributed in a
schematic manner, acquiring a mask-like quality. His con
tours are strong and outlines thick, revealing a thicker
brushstroke than that of the major artist (figs. XV-XIX;
17-26). It is in the draperies that this artist reveals his in
feriority to the major master of Nerezi. His draperies are
lacking the fluffiness of those painted by the main master,
and his colors are not as vibrant as those in the naos. In
addition, his white lacks that crisp, metallic quality,
characteristic of figures done by the main artist.
Two additional artists executed most of the images in the
narthex and in the western side chapels. One is distinguished
for a more coloristic treatment of faces, particularly evident
in red patches applied to cheeks, as can be seen in the images
of the martyrs in the south-west chapel, or St. Symeon the
Stylite on the east wall (figs. LX; 70). The other relies on lin
ear expression, but his faces are rougher and done in thick
lines with heavy contours (fig. LXV, LXVI; 72). Moreover,
his characters are lacking the intensity and psychological in
dividualization so apparent in other parts of the church. In
the work of these two artists, the geometry of faces is very
pronounced, and instead of using a network of lines which
model the face, they work with patches, thick brush strokes,
and often somewhat dull colors.
The workshop of Nerezi most likely continued to be
active in Macedonia and may have executed the twelfthcentury paintings in the south porch of the church of the
Virgin Eleousa, Veljusa. What has remained to the present
are fragments of a scene from the life of St. Onufrios on the
north wall, a partially preserved image of a bishop in the
niche on the east wall, and a portion of the figure of Christ
on the eastern part of the north wall.24 The execution of
figures compares closely to the images of Nerezi. Al
though the facial features of St. Onufrius are now obliter
24
25
26
27
28

ated, his slender, linearly treated body, dynamic gesture, as


well as his gray hair built of a network of thin, calligraph
ically drawn lines, may be compared to images at Nerezi.
The face of Christ, however, is much more telling in re
vealing the hand of the artist (fig. 46). Christs arched eye
brows, thickly outlined eyes with shadows which follow
the contour of eye sockets, aquiline nose, as well as the de
sign of his hairdress with thin parallel yellow highlights,
compare closely to the image of Christ in the Deposition
scene at Nerezi (figs. 45, 46). Moreover, according to
P. Miljkovi-Pepek, the size of the head and dimensions of
facial features, equal the head of Christ at Nerezi.25 Al
though the image is too damaged to analyze the coloristic
gamut, the shade of ocher which is preserved on Christs
halo at Veljusa is surprisingly close to that at Nerezi. It
seems that scholars are correct in assuming that the pre
served paintings at Veljusa were executed by the main
artist of Nerezi.26
The style of the wall paintings in the church of H. Niko
laos tou Kasnitzi in Kastoria also reveals kinship to
Nerezi.27 Despite its inferior quality, the cycle of H. Niko
laos exhibits compositional arrangement of the scenes,
modeling of figures, and facial types which compare to
Nerezi. A particularly good example is provided by the
scene of the Transfiguration. Postures of figures and their
gestures, the patterns of folds of their draperies, as well as
the facial features of the participants and the treatment of
landscape, look as though they were copied directly from
Nerezi. Facial features, costumes, and postures of warrior
saints, the image of St. Menas, as well as the treatment of
draperies and design of folds of the angels in the apse are
also similar in the two churches.
Although Nerezi may have served as a model for the
painted cycle of H. Nikolaos, the artists had much inferior
skills. This is indicated by the dryness of line, monotonous
linear stylization, lack of fluency in movement and imme
diacy of gesture, as well as in boldly juxtaposed, yet dull
colors which characterize scenes at H. Nikolaos. The re
finement, elegance and fluency of Nerezis imagery is ab
sent in the Kastorian church. Thus, the paintings of H.
Nikolaos represent an example of the dissemination of the
style of Nerezi and its interpretation by a local workshop.

NEREZI AND TWELFTH-CENTURY STYLE


Without repeating the analyses of Komnenian art formu
lated in a number of studies,281 will attempt to define the
importance of the style of Nerezi within the context of
monuments which are stylistically closely related to
Nerezi, yet were not painted by the same workshop. Inci-

Miljkovi-Pepek, Veljusa (see footnote 23), figs. 72, 73; pl. 16.
Ibid., p. 232.
Ibid., p. 232; and Hadermann-Misguich, La peinture monumentale (see footnote 22), p. 103.
Pelekanides and Chatzidakis, Kastoria (see footnote 23), pp. 50-66.
See footnote 22.

Chapter IV
dentally, these monuments, the church of Hosios David in
Thessaloniki and the church of the Transfiguration at
Chortiatis near Thessaloniki, are also located in the vicin
ity of Nerezi. Although little studied and dated differently
by scholars, the painted programs of these two churches
were, in my view, contemporaneous with Nerezi and they
provide good comparanda for elucidating the significance
of Nerezi both regionally and within the monumental art
of Byzantium.29

1. The Church of the Transfiguration, Chortiatis


The painted cycle of the church of the Transfiguration,
Chortiatis, near Thessaloniki is only partially preserved.
The fragmentary state of preservation of its paintings does
not allow us to comment about the layout of the program
as a whole and limits the analysis of their style, too. A
number of single figures of saints and bishops and the frag
ments of two scenes of the cycle of the Virgin, however, in
dicate that stylistic features of this church are related to
Nerezi.30The remaining portions of the scenes of the Birth
and the Presentation of the Virgin suggest that their
painter was interested in integrating his figures into a co
herent composition. For example, in the Presentation in
the Temple, Joachim and Anna are brought close together,
forming a group closely bound by gestures and postures.31
Further resemblance between Nerezi and Chortiatis
are seen in the representation of figures. The figures at
Chortiatis, as at Nerezi, have elongated proportions and
are executed with a careful balance between the linear and
the painterly. Moreover, draperies at Chortiatis, although
somewhat bulky, are nonetheless treated in a refined,
linear manner, and are comparable to those at Nerezi. In
addition, the major characteristic of the images at Chorti
atis is their expressiveness and psychological characteri
zation. This is particularly evident in the image of
St. Anna in the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.
Executed in a delicate, linear manner, the face of St. Anna
shows that inner anxiety so characteristic of the Nerezis
images, and so prominent in the latter half of the cen
tury.32 Above all, a close stylistic affinity between the two
monuments is seen in the relationship between an
unidentified saint from Chortiatis and St. Panteleimon
(fig. XLIX).33 Both have somewhat triangular-oval faces,
widely arched brows, oval eyes, little mouth, and delicate
web of thin lines on the cheeks. The hairdress of the two
saints compares too.

83
2. The Church of Hosios David, Thessaloniki
The paintings at Hosios David are also very closely related
to Nerezi. While Chortiatis manifests the tendencies of
mid-twelfth century art through the elegance of its atte
nuated figures and facial expressions, the paintings at
Hosios David exhibit an advanced linearism, agitation, and
color range which closely compares to Nerezi. A deep,
cobalt blue background, a careful gradation of green from
pastel to olive tones, juxtaposition of mauve, blue and
ocher, and use of white as highlights which intersect faces
and draperies while accentuating at the same time tonal
gradation are strikingly similar in the two monuments.
Only two scenes are fully preserved at Hosios David:
the Baptism and the Birth of Christ (fig. XLIII, XLVII).
They occupy the eastern and western halves of the south
barrel vault, respectively. Below the Baptism, there are
fragments of the Presentation in the Temple; the Trans
figuration was once rendered on the tympanum of the
south barrel vault.34
The treatment of figures at Hosios David and at Nerezi
is also similar. In both churches draperies envelope and ag
itate figures, having a rich textural appearance achieved by
their linear treatment. A variety of patterns in the two
churches is comparable. The trapezoidal spread of folds on
the Virgins robe may be compared to the similarly shaped
folds on the garments of St. John in the Deposition at
Nerezi (fig. XLV).35 Moreover, the figures compare in their
postures too, a particularly good example of this being the
posture of Christs body in the Baptism at Hosios David.
In its sinuous shape it is very close to the figure of Christ
in the Threnos at Nerezi (figs. XLVI, XLVII).
The facial types in the two churches are also similar. The
woman bathing Christ in the Birth of Christ at Hosios
David compares closely to the lady holding a water jug in
the Birth of the Virgin at Nerezi, and the freshness of her
painterly conceived face finds a parallel in the face of the
Virgin in the same scene at Nerezi (figs. XLII, XLIII). Par
ticularly striking in comparing the two churches is the face
of St. Joseph in the Birth of Christ in Hosios David. His
intense dynamic expression achieved by a careful linear
and coloristic effects is similar to the same principles used
in achieving psychological characterization of the faces at
Nerezi (fig. XLIII).
Moreover, the scenes at Hosios David are compositionally integrated. In the Birth of Christ, isolated groups of
figures are related to one another by the landscape. The
curvilinear pattern of hills follows and outlines the con-

29 The paintings of Hosios David were dated to the middle of the twelfth century by E. Tsigaridas, Oi toichographies ts Mons Latomou Tbessaloniks
kai Byzantin zgraphik tou 12ou aina (Thessaloniki, 1986), p. 68; and M. Panayotidi, The Wall Paintings in the Church of the Virgin Kosmosoteira at Ferai (Vira) and Stylistic Trends in 12th Century Painting, BF 14/2 (1989): 460. Mouriki, Stylistic Trends, pp. 119-123, dates them,
however, in the late twelfth/ early thirteenth century. Similarly, while Mouriki dates the paintings of Chortiatis in the middle of the twelfth century,
Djuric, La peinture murale byzantine (see footnote 22), p. 61, dates them in the early thirteenth century.
30 Mouriki, ibid., figs. 50-53.
31 Ibid., fig. 53.
32 Ibid.
33 For the saint in Chortiatis, see ibid., fig. 50.
34 Ibid., p. 119-122; n. 135; figs. 8 8 -9 1 ; 93-96.
35 For Hosios David, see ibid., fig. 90.

Chapter IV

84
tours of figures, as is particularly evident in the figure of
St. Joseph and the group of maids bathing Christ. The hills
extend above the Virgin, echoing the articulation of the
lower portion of the scene, and wrapping up the com
ponents of the scene into a coherent whole. The basic
compositional arrangement of this scene compares to the
Nativity of Christ depicted in the Homilies of Gregory of
Nazianzus, Mount Sinai, cod. 339 (fol. 107).36 An empha
sis on compositional unity is also seen in the Baptism
(fig. XLVII). The figures of Christ, St. John, and the angels
are closely related to one another through their gestures
and postures. The relationship between these figures, as
well as the iconography of the scene are comparable to the
same scene depicted in Vat. Urb. gr. 2 (fol. 109v).

3. Chortiatis, Hosios David, and Nerezi


The effort to create compositionally integrated scenes, seen
both at Hosios David and at Chortiatis, is similar to the
compositional principles used at Nerezi. The landscape
which echoes the shapes of the figures while at the same
time connecting them, as well as the corresponding gestures
and postures which relate individual actors, are common
compositional principles in all three churches. Moreover,
both Nerezi and the two Thessalonikan monuments appar
ently use Constantinopolitan manuscripts of the first half
of the century as their source. Thus, although the composi
tion of the scenes in Hosios David and Chortiatis is lacking
the dynamic quality of Nerezi groups, they are nonetheless
representative of the same artistic tradition.
Both Hosios David and Chortiatis, however, exhibit
features which differ from Nerezi. Concerning Chortiatis,
the figures are more monumental and their draperies
bulkier than those at Nerezi. The figures at Hosios David
share the monumentality evident at Chortiatis. However,
their proportions are somewhat squat and lacking the
elongation so prominent at both Nerezi and Chortiatis.
Moreover, a feeling of space and atmosphere in these
paintings also distinguishes them from the other two mon
uments. These features have led scholars to date the paint
ings of Hosios David and Chortiatis anywhere from the
sixth decade of the twelfth century to the beginning of the
thirteenth century.37 In my view, a tendency towards com
positional integration, similar coloristic patterns, as well as
a comparable portrayal of human figure chronologically
relate both Hosios David and Chortiatis to Nerezi.
The monumentality of figures at Hosios David and at
Chortiatis, which has led scholars to date them in the thir
teenth century, finds parallels in earlier art, such as in the
36
37
38
39

painted program at Pherrai. Moreover, the muscular body


of Christ, the plastic quality of the figure of the Virgin, as
well as the treatment of space at Hosios David, relate to
Constantinopolitan manuscript production of the mid
twelfth century. Despite the actual size of figures, and an
attempt to portray landscape, the figures at Hosios David
are lacking the comfortable spatial arrangements of thir
teenth-century art.38
The three Macedonian churches, Chortiatis, Hosios
David, and Nerezi, exhibit seeds of the major stylistic ten
dencies developed in the third quarter of the twelfth cen
tury. A similar coloristic gamut, similar ways of conceiving
figures, and similar facial types seen in these three churches
suggest their common prototypes and chronological
closeness. Moreover, a high quality of execution in all
three, as well as their kinship to Constantinopolitan works
of art, suggest that the capital of the Empire had an impor
tant impact on monumental art in Macedonia at that time.
These three churches, in fact, reflect pluralistic tendencies
apparent in Constantinople throughout the twelfth cen
tury. A combination of elegant, slender, yet agitated and
somewhat robust figures like those of Chortiatis is found
at St. Neophytos on Cyprus, at Djurdjevi Stupovi, and at
Backovo.39 The monumental, linearly conceived figures at
Hosios David anticipate the paintings of the Church of the
Virgin, Patmos, while images of Nerezi lead, on the one
hand, to the agitated figures of Kurbinovo and St. George,
Staraya Ladoga; on the other hand, they anticipate the re
strained and elegant images at Lagoudera and even on the
Annunciation icon from Sinai.40 While it is certain that
these Macedonian churches did not make a direct impact
on the geographically dispersed later monuments, the de
gree to which Nerezi, Hosios David, and Chortiatis pre
suppose later artistic tendencies, suggests Constantinople
as the source of their style.

SUMMARY
The analysis of the style of Nerezi testifies to the long
established hypothesis about the stylistic koine of the
Komnenian period. Linearism, flattening of figures, and
their agitation are common features evident in monuments
throughout the empire. Although no painted cycle sur
vives from the capital at this time, Constantinopolitan
manuscripts, icons, and other minor arts of the period in
dicate that the center of the Empire provided the source
from which these stylistic tendencies were disseminated. It
is quite likely that artists from the capital traveled and left

Anderson, Illustration of Cod. Sinai, Gr. 339 (see footnote 9), pp. 167-185.
See footnote 29.
Mouriki, Stylistic Trends (see footnote 3), pp. 119-123, dates them in the early thirteenth century based on these features.
For St. Neophytos, see Mango and Hawkins, The Hermitage of St. Neophytos, DOP 20 (1966): 119-207; for Djurdjevi Stupovi, see J. Nekovi,
Djurdjevi Stupovi u Starom Rasu, Raka Bastina 1(1975); for Backovo, see E. Bakalova, Bachkovskata Kostnica (Sofia, 1977), pp. 118-157.
40 For Patmos, see E. Kollias, Wall Paintings, in: Patmos. Treasures of the Monastery, ed. by A. D. Kominis (Athens, 1988), pp. 5 9 -6 3 ; for Staraya
Ladoga, see V. Lazarev, Freski Staroi Ladogi (Moscow, 1960); for Sinai, see K. Weitzmann, The Icon. Holy Images Sixth to Fourteenth Century (Lon
don, 1978), pl. 27.

Chapter IV
their impact in the provinces. Many examples of such ac
tivities can be pointed to; Nerezi is one of them.
In sum, the most distinguished characteristics of the
style at Nerezi are the sheer beauty and eloquence which
relate it to Constantinople, and the extent to which it is ex
pressive of the iconographic content of the program. As
discussed in the previous chapter, the novel iconography
of the painted program at Nerezi has been enhanced by the
artists effort to communicate messages in the most effec

85
tive and aesthetically pleasing manner. Since the content of
the program clearly indicates extensive involvement of the
patron, the high aesthetic quality of its execution is also
to be understood as his deed. After all, it was most likely
Alexios who had chosen, commissioned and paid the
artists, their superb skills revealing the patrons distingui
shed taste. Alexios capability to summon the best artists
available in the region is also apparent from the refinement
of the sculptural ensemble to which we will now turn.

CHAPTER V

SCULPTURE

INTRODUCTION
The survey of the sculpture at Nerezi reveals the sad state
of preservation of this art medium in general. Since their
discovery and publication by N. Okunev in 1929, the
sculptural fragments of Nerezi have been decimated, their
loss unaccounted for.1Most of the preserved pieces survive
in their original locations. The high quality of execution of
the sculptural fragments at Nerezi suggests that they were
carved by exceptionally skilled artists.
From the evidence in situ it is clear that sculpture was not
a dominant art medium in the church.2 In fact, it was con
fined to the iconostasis (pl. 8). In addition, several earlier

pieces, a couple of Roman funerary stele, an Ionic capital,


and two fragments of a marble panel were also found in the
church. Only a Roman funerary stele can still be seen
(fig. 75); it tops a low bench constructed against
the east wall of the narthex (fig. LVIII).3 The Ionic capital,
the other stele, and a marble panel, once displayed in the
museum in Skopje, are either lost or are hidden away from
public view.4Since the provenance of this early sculpture, as
well as their location and function within the church are un
known, we will focus on the twelfth-century fragments of
the iconostasis. A description of the twelfth-century sculp
ture will be followed by an iconographic and stylistic analy
sis and by an attempt to reconstruct the original iconostasis.

1 N. L. Okunev, Altarnaia pregrada XII vieka v Nerezie, Seminarium Kondakovianum 3 (1929): 5 -2 3 .


2 For a complete list of the twelfth-century sculptural fragments found in Nerezi, see Okunev, ibid.; Dj. Bokovi, Izvetaj i kratke beleke s puto
vanja, Starinar 6 (1931): 181-183; Idem, Arheoloki izvetaji, GSND 5 (1932): 22 1-2 23 ; and Idem, La restauration rcente de liconostase
lglise de Nerezi, Seminarium Kondakovianum 6 (1933): 157-159.
3 The stele, 1.50 m tall, 0.63 m wide, and 0.09 m deep, is made of marble. Its upper portion displays a reclining figure in the center flanked by the seated
woman to the right and a man standing and holding a vessel to the left. The lower portion of the stele has a rectangular hole, suggesting that it may
once have been used as a construction element, perhaps as a beam support. When it was transfered to its present location in the narthex is not known.
The inscription on the lower portion of the stele indicates that the famous Maximus who lived for 50 years was buried there and that the stele was
made by efforts of people whose names are cited. It reads:
D(is) m(anibus)
///// Max[i
m] u[s v] ixit
an(nis) L h(ic) s(itus) e(st)
Val(erius) Eupor
q(ui) et Maximus
fil(ius) et L. Mani(ius) Va
lentin[u] s col(libertus)
et Servie ...
vive b(ene) m(erenti)
f(aciendum) c(uraverunt)
The insciption is taken from N. Vuli, Antiki spomenici nae zemlje, Spomenik 71, (Belgrade, 1931), p. 214, no. 571. The stele was first published by
A. Evans, Antiquarian Researches in Illiricum, Parts III and IV, Archaeologia, 49 (Westminster, 1875), p. 124, No. CLIII 8223.
4 The Ionic capital, measuring 0.40 m in diameter at the top and 0.30 m in diameter at its botom, was found near the church and is now lost. We know
about it from the photograph published by S. Radoji, Starine crkvenog muzeja u Skoplju (Skopje, 1941), p. 82. Its dating is a subject of a scholarly
debate. S. Radoji, ibid.; and I. Nikolajevi-Stojkovi, Jonski impost-kapiteli iz Makedonije i Srbije, ZR V I 21 (1952): 177-178, fig. 13, date it in the
twelfth century. K. Petrov, Dekorativna plastika vo Makedonija vo XI i XII vek, Godisen zbornik na Filozofskiot fakultet 12 (1962): 161 -162; and
Idem, Kon neispitana protoistorija na lokalitetot Sv. Panteleimon vo Nerezi, Godisen zbornik na Filozofskiot fakultet 33 (1981): 172-186 claims
that it is an Early Christian capital.
The other Roman stele was never published. It is mentioned only in the unpublished Report on the archaeological work at Nerezi undertaken in 1967
which was kindly brought to my attention by the members of the staff of the Institut for the Protection of Monuments in Skoplje. The report speci
fies that the stele, 1.27 m tall, 1.80 m wide, and 0.09 m deep, was found in the naos, under the central dome, turned face down. It has a Latin inscrip
tion which reads:
G(aius) Val (erius) Valens vix(it) an(nis) XVII
et G(aius) Val(erius)
Maximus vix(it) an(nis) XVIII h(ic) s(iti) s(unt)
G(aius) Val(erius) Lucius pater et Caelia
Veneria mater fili(i) s at spem
Vite studiis perductis in
qua fortuna et fato deceptis
f(aciendum) c(uravit)
The text indicates that the stele was made at the request of the mourning parents, Gaius Valerius Lucius, the father, and Caelia Veneria, the mother, to
honor their sons Gaius Valerius Valens who lived 17 years, and Gaius Valerius Maximus, who lived 18 years.
The marble panel was first published by Vuli, Spomenik (see footnote 3), p. 214, no. 572. It was later dated in the Early Christian period and hypo
thetical allocated to the sanctuary barrier of an Early Christian basilica on the site of or nearby Nerezi, by Petrov, Kon neispitana protoistorijata
(see footnote 3), pp. 159-171.

Chapter V
DESCRIPTION
The iconostasis which is in the church now represents an
eclectic reconstruction of the original fragments and rela
tively accurate copies of the original pieces executed in
1930-1931 (pl. 8; figs. XXXIV; 76, 77).5 It measures 3.60 m
x 2.30 m and consists of four parapet slabs and four
colonnettes which connect the slabs and support an archi
trave. The lower portion of the colonnettes, up to the
height of parapet slabs (1.00 m) is rectangular; their upper
portion is octagonal and topped by capitals. The panels are
of differing lengths: those flanking the entrance are 0.90 m
wide, while those close to the wall are 0.30 m wide. To the
north and south respectively, the iconostasis is flanked by
proskynetaria icons, 1.30 m wide and 2.50 m tall. The inner
colonnettes, the architrave, and the tri-lobe frame of the
south proskynetarion, are original, twelfth-century pieces
(pl. 8; figs.XLIX, 76, 77, 82). The north proskynetarion
frame (fig. L), the parapet panels and the molding covering
them, as well as the outer colonnettes, were made in
1930-1931 on the basis of the preserved original elements
(figs. 76, 77).
The frame of the south proskynetarion is the most
impressive original sculpted piece at Nerezi (pl. 8;
figs.XLIX; 83). It is executed in stucco, unlike the rest of
the sculpture which is carved in marble. The inner side of
the frame is tri-lobed and decorated by a bead-and-reel
pattern and a braid of four interlaced triple bands. The
ornament within the frame consists of two pheasants
flanking the central vase from which emerge vine stems in
terwoven with a stylized palmette. The frame is topped
by an architrave which projects outwards at an angle of 30
degrees and is decorated by a heart-shaped palmette
separated by a double lily. The sides of the frame are
flanked by colonnettes topped by small capitals with
palmette decoration.
The upper part of the proskynetarion is supported by
double colonnettes topped by cubical capitals. The capitals
are decorated with palmette motifs in the upper half and
acanthus leaves in the lower portion. Only one capital has
been preserved from the north proskynetarion frame. In
its shape, size, and decoration, it resembles the capitals of
the south proskynetarion frame.
The architrave which is in situ is completely original
(pi. 8; figs. XXXIV, LXVIII, 76). Although once in frag
ments which were scattered around the church, it was

87
nonetheless reassembled and placed in its original location.
The architrave of the iconostasis displays the same motif of
heart-shaped palmette separated by a lily seen on the
architrave of the proskynetaria.
The inner colonnettes of the iconostasis are also from
the twelfth century (figs. 76, 77, 82). On the side facing the
naos, the colonnettes display a braid of two triple bands in
the upper, octagonal portion, and a braid of four triple
bands in the lower section. Added to the inner colonnettes,
and also rectangular in shape, are the door posts (figs. 76,
77, 82). It is unlikely that actual royal doors were attached
to them, since they do not reveal any markings which
would indicate where and how the door might have been
attached.6 Like the colonnettes, the marble posts are deco
rated only on the side facing the naos. They are topped by
marble spheres and display grapes and leaves interwoven
with vine.
The parapet panels and the outer colonnettes of the pre
sent iconostasis are copies of the original fragments found
in situ by N. Okunev.7 The larger panels are based on the
original piece found on the south side of the iconostasis; its
fragments are now kept in the Archaeological Museum in
Skopje (pl. 8; figs. 76, 77, 78).8 The original panel is divided
in sixteen rectangular fields framed by double-knotted
bands (fig. 78). The rectangular fields exhibit little birds,
rabbits, disks, leaves and a rosette.9 The back of the panel
is decorated with a foliated cross in its center, as well as
with wide intersecting bands which form a large central
circle, four smaller circles with palmette on the vertical and
horizontal axis, and four guilloches on the diagonal axis
(fig. 79).
Only one fragment is preserved of the north panel, indi
cating that it too was divided in rectangular fields deco
rated with various motifs. The preserved fragment shows a
disk and a rosette. The back of the fragment is comparable
to the south panel.10 The modern copies of the north and
south panels, which form a part of the reconstructed
iconostasis, resemble the basic decorative principles of the
original pieces; yet, they differ in the selection of images
represented within the rectangular fields, and their back
side is not carved (figs. 76-79).
Concerning the smaller, side panels, only one fragment
survives. Like the larger panels, it was divided into rectan
gular fields and decorated with a star, a cross, a rosette, and
a disk (fig. 80). Its copy, which decorates the present
iconostasis, thus differs considerably from the original

5 The iconostasis was reconstructed under the supervision of Dj. Bokovi (see note 2). The new pieces were carved by the sculptor Nestor Aleksijevic. The project was executed under the auspices of the Institute for the Protection of Monuments in Skopje. The original, twelfth-century com
ponents of the iconostasis are easily differentiated from the new pieces on figs. 76, 77, because the original marble is considerably darker.
6 For the placement and decoration of the royal door within the iconostasis, see A. Grabar, Deux notes sur lhistoire de liconostase daprs des
monuments de Yugoslavie, Z RVI 7 (1961): 13-23.
7 Okunev, Altarnaia pregrada (see footnote 1), pp. 9 -2 0 .
8 This panel was, according to Okunev, in one piece in 1921; in 1922 he found it broken in five pieces. In 1990,1 was able to see only three fragments
of this panel in the Archaeological Museum of Skoplje.
9 The four uppermost fields are decorated with birds, all turned towards the center; underneath are rabbits eating grapes, a pigeon, and an eagle; the
third row from the top is flanked by two leaves inclined towards the center, and by two sun disks in the center. At the bottom, we see two stars and
two rosettes.
10 Despite all my efforts, I was not able to see this fragment, and my description of it is based on earlier publications by Okunev and Bokovi (see foot
note 2).

Chapter V

88
panel (figs. 76, 80).11 The side colonnettes of the current
iconostasis are also having little in common with the orig
inal ones. The fragments of the original colonnettes
display a braid of two triple bands in the upper half,
and palmette interwoven with vine in the lower portion
(fig. 81).12 The modern reconstruction, however, repeats
the pattern of the inner colonnettes with a braid of triple
bands decorating both lower and upper sections (fig. 76).

ANALYSIS: TECHNIQUE, ICONOGRAPHY,


STYLE
The technique of the preserved fragments at Nerezi, their
style and iconography make it clear that all of them were
products of the same campaign and were executed by the
same artisan. Although the proskynetaria frames were ex
ecuted in stucco, while the remaining portion of the
iconostasis was carved in marble, the repertoire of orna
ment, such as braids, animals, and palmette, appears on
both marble and stucco pieces, indicating that they were a
result of the same concept (pl. 8; figs.XLIX; 76-83).13
Moreover, considering the technique, most of the pre
served sculpture exhibits crisp carving with sharp edges. It
seems that the craftsman first opened the drill holes which
he used later as guiding points; subsequently, he removed
the ground, thus creating a relief-like surface, and finished
by opening sharp ridged grooves over the ornamented sur
face.14 That at least explains drilled holes seen both in the
stucco frame and on the fragments of the iconostasis.
Stylistic and iconographic features of the sculpture at
Nerezi were often interpreted as a result of influences
from both western and Islamic art.15 This is particularly
true of a division of panels into rectangular fields, intricate
carving of the proskynetarion frame, and its tri-lobed
form. However, by the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
most of these features were already assimilated into
Byzantine art production, and the sculpture of Nerezi
finds many parallels in contemporary works of art.
The extremely high quality of carving with minute

attention given to details and rich surface modeling of the


sculpture at Nerezi, compares closely in its refinement to
contemporary sculptural fragments found in the capital
and its orbit of influence. It also finds many parallels in the
high-quality works in the provinces.

1. Constantinople as a Source
The elegant, crisp carving of Nerezis fragments compares
to the eleventh and twelfth-century sculpture in the major
Constantinopolitan monuments, such as Kariye Camii, the
Pantokrator monastery, and Fethiye Camii.16Moreover, in
addition to stylistic and technical affinities, iconographic
parallels with the capital also exist. The lily and palmette
frieze ornaments of the cornices in the nave and the main
dome of the Fethiye Camii, probably constructed in the
second half of the eleventh century, as well as the frieze on
the lower cornice of the early twelfth century Eleousa
church in the Pantokrator Monastery, compare to the
iconostasis architrave and the proskynetarion frame at
Nerezi.17 Motifs of animals eating grapes interwoven with
vine leaves, seen on Nerezis fragments, are also found in
Constaninople as, for example, on the ornamentation of the
carved slab now displayed in the exonarthex of Hagia
Sophia, on a capital from Constantinople now in the Staatliche Sammlungen, Berlin, and on a twelfth-century capital
from the south church of the Pantokrator Monastery.18

2. The Provinces and Neighboring Countries


as a Source
Sculpture from the eleventh- and twelfth-century monu
ments in Italy, Russia, and in the Balkans, also provides
many parallels to the fragments of Nerezi. For example, a
number of panels now in the narthex of San Marco, Venice,
and originally belonging to its iconostasis, show con
fronted animals, such as peacocks, deer, or lions, set sym
metrically around the vase surrounded by a vine interlace,
palmette, or acanthus.19 The rectangles on panels often

11 See Bokovi, La restauration rcente de liconostase (see footnote 2), pp. 157-159.
12 Bokovi, Arheoloki izvetaji (see footnote 2), p. 221, fig. 15.
13 The use of stucco for the proskynetaria frames is not unusual; we find it, for example, on the sculptural fragments on the exterior of the church of
the Virgin at Hosios Loukas; see L. Bouras, Architectural Sculptures of the Twelfth and the Early Thirteenth Centuries in Greece, Deltion 9
(1977-1979): 66; and A. Grabar, Sculptures byzantines du moyen ge (Paris, 1976), pp. 50-60.
14 For a discussion on this technique, see Bouras, Architectural Sculptures (see footnote 13), pp. 65-66.
15 See Grabar, Sculptures byzantines (see footnote 13), pp. 105-106; Petrov, Dekorativna plastika vo Makedonija (see footnote 4), pp. 151-180; and
Okunev, Altarnaia pregrada (see footnote 1), pp. 10- 20.
16 For Kariye Camii, see . Hjort, The Sculpture of the Kariye Camii, DOP 33 (1979): 199-289; and D. Oates, A Summary Report on the Exca
vations of the Byzantine Institute in the Kariye Camii, 1957-1958, DOP 14 (1960): 223-231. For the Pantokrator Monastery, see A. H. S. Megaw,
Notes on the recent work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul, DOP 17 (1963): 33 5 -62 ; R. M. Harrison and N. Firatli, Excavations at Sarachane in Istanbul: Fourth Preliminary Report, DOP 2 1 (1967): 276. For Fethiye Camii, see C. Mango and E. J. W. Hawkins, Report on Field Work
in Istanbul and Cyprus, DOP 18 (1964): 319-340.
17 In the Pantokrator Monastery, however, a more complex rhythm has been introduced in a number of places, by subdividing the palmette into a
smaller lily and two smaller palmettes. The same motif was used on a number of San Marco capitals of the late eleventh century. See H. Buchwald,
The Carved Stone Ornament of the High Middle Ages in San Marco, Venice, J B 13 (1964): 157-159, figs. 40-42.
18 H. Buchwald, The Carved Stone Ornament of the High Middle Ages in San Marco, Venice, J B 11/12 (1962-1963): 162-163, fig. 58, n. 106; and
R. M. Harrison, A Constantinopolitan Capital in Barcelona, DOP 27 (1973): 297-300.
19 Buchwald, The Carved Stone Ornament, 1962-1963 (see footnote 18), pp. 185-197, figs.22-29.

89

Chapter V
have their borders ornamented in braided bands, palmette,
or bead-and-reel ornament, all of which are also found at
Nerezi. Similar panels are found on the parapet screen in
the Cathedral of Torcello.20 Although executed in the
eleventh century and differing in their technique, the
iconography and composition of these panels can be asso
ciated with the Nerezi fragments.
Among the Russian examples, the closest to the sculp
ture of Nerezi are the eleventh-century panels from the
church of St. Sophia at Kiev, and from the eleventh-century cathedral at Chernigov. A whole series of panels
found in the church of St. Sophia, Kiev, serve as a gallery
balustrade.21 Two of the panels show divisions in rectan
gular fields separated, as at Nerezi, by interlaced bands,
and filled with images of stylized flowers, disks, and ani
mals.22 Other panels show a wide interlace of double band
which forms circles containing single eagles, flowers,
crosses or disks; their style compares closely to the back of
the larger panels at Nerezi. The eleventh-century panels
from the north tribunes of the cathedral at Chernigov also
show a pattern of wide intersecting bands which encircle
various motifs, such as disks, flowers and crosses.23
In the Balkans, close parallels to Nerezi are found in a
number of monuments. For example, a division of panels
into rectangular fields filled with animals, birds, and styl
ized flowers, seen at Nerezi, is also exhibited on the panels
of the phiale of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos, and on
the twelfth-century iconostasis of the church of Hosios
Meletios, near Megara.24 Other motifs found at Nerezi,
such as the foliated crosses, palmette within a vine, paired
birds surrounded with foliage, also find many parallels in
the twelfth-century. Some examples are provided by sar
cophagi panels in the churches of St. Nicholas, Porta Pili,
and Panagia, Episkopi, Ano Voulou.25 All of these panels
also exhibit the crisp carving style which, in terms of its
technique, compares to the sculptural fragments of Nerezi.
With regard to style, however, Nerezi finds its closest
parallels in the fragments of the epistyle found in the
church of the Taxiarches at Andros, Mesaria (1158), as well
as on the sarcophagus slabs found in Athens, near the
church of the Holy Apostles, attributed to the third quar
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27

ter of the twelfth century.26 These examples, like Nerezi,


are characterized by richly modeled organic details and
the fleshy, supple carving of motifs which are vividly ani
mated, vigorous, and geometrically curved.

3. Macedonia as a Source
Despite many parallels throughout the Byzantine world,
the style and the iconography of Nerezi sculpture adheres
most closely to contemporary sculpture of its own region.
A number of finely carved sculptural pieces and ensembles
which have been preserved in Macedonia from the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, testifies that highly skilled
artists were active in that province. Among the many ex
amples, particularly interesting are sarcophagus panels
from Veroia, Serres, and Mikra Prespa; sculptural frag
ments found in Chortiatis and White Tower, Skopje; the
door lintel of the church of H. Anargyroi, Kastoria; as well
as the iconostasis of the church of St. Sophia in Ohrid, the
church of the Virgin of the Eleousa at Veljusa, and the
church of the Forty martyrs of Sebaste at Bansko.27
With regard to the sarcophagi, those found in the church
of St. Nicholas at Veroia, and dated to eleventh/twelfth
century, exhibit, as do the fragments at Nerezi, sharp-edge
palmettes, broad intersecting bands forming circles, as well
as geometrically treated birds, dense grapes, braids, and
palmettes interlaced with vines.28 A pheasant, similarly
articulated to that at Nerezi, yet in this instance eating
grapes, as well as a palmette springing from a vine and
encircling a bird, are also found on an eleventh-century
sarcophagus plaque from the Rotunda of St. George in
Thessaloniki.29 In addition to comparable iconography,
those plaques also compare to Nerezis sculpture in
their crisp carving style, and in the tendency towards
obscuring the central motif with ornamental foliage.
The pattern of intersecting, smoothly carved broad
bands, which encircle a variety of motifs seen on the back
of the panel at Nerezi, finds its close iconographic, sty
listic, and technical parallel in the eleventh-century frag
ment from the church of Metropolis at Serres and on the

Buchwald, ibid., pp. 197-199, fig. 38.


Grabar, Sculptures byzantines (see footnote 13), p. 84, pl. 59.
Ibid., pl. 59 c.
Ibid., pl. 60.
Ibid., pls. 40; 74-76.
See Th. Pazaras, Anaglyphes sarkophagoi kai epitaphiesplakes ts mess kai ysters Byzantins periodou stn Ellada (Athens, 1988), pl. 30, a, b.
See Bouras, Architectural Sculptures in Greece (see footnote 13), pp. 63-67.
For the sarcophagi, see Pazaras, Anaglyphes sarkophagoi (see footnote 25), pls. ll a; 6 a, b; 12 a; 22 c; 23 a, b, c; for White Tower, see G. Millet,
Lancient art serbe (Paris, 1919), pp. 149-150, figs. 169-172; and I. Nikolajevi-Stojkovi, Prilog prouavanju vizantiske skulpture od 10. do 12. veka
iz Makedonije i Srbije, ZRVI 49 (1955): 183; for H. Anargyroi, see N. K. Moutzopoulos, Ekklesies ts Kastorias 9os-llos ainas (Thessaloniki,
1992): 401 -406; for St. Sophia, see Nikolajevi-Stojkovi, ibid., pp. 171 -174; for Veljusa, see P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Veljusa. Manastir Sv. Bogorodica
Milostiva vo seloto Veljusa kraj Strumica (Skopje, 1981), pp. 134-138; for Bansko, see A. Cicimov, Mermernata oltarska pregrada vo crkvata Sv.
etirieset sevastiski maenici vo Bansko, in: Zbornik na trudovi. Zavod za zatita na spomenicite na kulturata, prirodnite retkosti i muzej - Stru
mica (Strumica, 1989), pp. 101 -103. The panel from the church of the Transfiguration at Chortiatis is set in the floor of the church and has not been
published.
28 Pazaras, Anaglyphes sarkophagoi (see footnote 25), pls. 6 : a,b; 10 a.
29 For the Rotunda, see Pazaras, ibid., pl. 18: a, b. Pheasants were a popular motif in Macedonia. Although differing in their style and techniqe from the
fragments at Nerezi, the pheasant with an eagle appears, for example, on the eleventh-century sarcophagus from St. Achileos, Micra Prespa (Pazaras,
ibid., pl. 12a).

Chapter V

90
portal of the church of H. Anargyroi in Kastoria.30 More
over, such a design is also found on the eleventh-century
fragments from the crypt of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki,
and on a panel now imbedded in the floor of the twelfthcentury church of the Transfiguration at Chortiatis.31
Very close to the sculpture of Nerezi, both iconographically and stylistically, are fragments from the portal found
at White Tower in Skopje. These fragments represent fan
tastic animals in action set in rectangular fields and par
tially obscured by acanthus leaves. The ornamented bor
ders of these fragments exhibit geometrically conceived
palmette and acanthus, reminiscent both stylistically and
iconographically of the colonnettes at Nerezi.32 The treat
ment of animals and their execution also closely compare
to the images at Nerezi. Both show sharp edges and geo
metric treatment of the images and ornament.
The tri-lobe shape of the Nerezis proskynetarion has
often been explained as a consequence of Islamic or Dal
matian influence. However, a tri-lobe window was also ex
cavated in the White Tower, thus indicating that at the time
when Nerezi was built, this type of frame acquired local
popularity. The extent of its prominence in Macedonia in
the twelfth century is also seen in the church of H. Niko
laos tou Kasnitzi at Kastoria.33 There, probably in the ab
sence of funds for a more expensive materials, a tri-lobe
frame is painted above the image of Christ as if imitating a
marble proskynetarion.
Preserved fragments from the iconostasis at Ohrid,
Veljusa, and at Bansko are particularly important for our
understanding of the stylistic and iconographic origin of
the sculpture of Nerezis iconostasis. These fragments sug
gest that by the twelfth century, the iconostases in Mace
donia became, to a certain degree, standardized. The com
position and repertoire of ornaments carved on the
iconostasis of the church of St. Sophia, Ohrid is so similar
to that of Nerezi, that it is tempting to suggest St. Sophia
as a source of inspiration of Nerezis sculptors.34 The pal
mette, vine, encircled stylized flowers and knotted bands
on the colonnettes, as well as the wide interlaced bands
which divide the surface into circles and contain birds,
disks, crosses and stars on panels, are all found on the
iconostasis at St. Sophia. Moreover, the arch which now
frames a window on the north wall of St. Sophia, and

which may have once belonged to the iconostasis exhibits,


just like the proskynetarion at Nerezi, a braid, bead-and
reel ornament, and birds drinking from a vase.
The iconostases from the church of the Virgin Eleousa at
Veljusa, (11th century) and from the church of the Forty
Martyrs of Sebaste at Bansko (11th-12th century), also
correspond closely to Nerezi. As at Nerezi, the iconostases
in both of these churches exhibit an architrave decorated
with a pattern of crisply carved palmette and lily frieze.35
Moreover, fragments of parapet panels from Bansko show
a pattern of intersecting bands similar to those at the back of
the panel at Nerezi. These three iconostases also compare
closely to Nerezi in terms of their design. All of them ex
hibit colonnettes which are rectangular in the lower por
tion and octagonal in the upper one; they are divided by
parapet panels and supporting an architrave. Thus, in look
ing for the models of the iconostasis of Nerezi, as far as
sculptural decoration and form are concerned, one does not
have to go any further than the region around Nerezi. The
correspondences between the sculpture at Nerezi and other
Byzantine regions, however, is important since it testifies
that Macedonia in Middle Byzantine times followed the
trends set by the capital, Nerezi being a very important
representative of that trend.36

THE ORIGINAL FORM OF THE


ICONOSTASIS
The iconostasis which is now displayed at Nerezi repre
sents a close replica of the twelfth-century original. Its
shape and dimensions were reconstructed on the basis of
the existing members which have been preserved in situ,
fragments which were scattered around the church, and
marks of the original iconostasis detected on the floor and
flanking walls. Moreover, as discussed earlier, the decora
tion of the twentieth-century elements of the iconostasis
constitutes an accurate copy of the original fragments.
The form of the iconostasis of Nerezi, that is a screen of
low parapet slabs with colonnettes supporting an archi
trave, was rather prominent in Middle Byzantine times.37
Similar iconostases likely existed in the major Middle

30 For Serres, see Pazaras, ibid., pls. 3, 4; for H. Anargyroi, see Moutsopoulos, Ekklesies ts Kastorias (see footnote 27), pl. 22, figs. 300-315.
31 For Thessaloniki, see Pazaras, Anaglyphes sarkophagoi (see footnote 25), pl. 23 b. The panel from Chortiatis has not been published.
32 These fragments were first published by G. Millet, Lancient art Serbe (Paris, 1919), p. 151, figs. 169-172. Although Millet dates them in the four
teenth century, Nikolajevi-Stojkovi, Prilog prouavanju (see footnote 27), pp. 182-184, compares them to the fragments at Nerezi and dates
them in the twelfth century.
33 For H. Nikolaos, see S. Pelekanides and M. Chatzidakis, Kastoria (Athens, 1985), p. 52.
34 See Nikolajevi-Stojkovi, Prilog prouavanju (see footnote 27), pp. 170-174.
35 For Veljusa, see Miljkovi-Pepek, Veljusa (see footnote 27), pp. 134-138; for Bansko, see Cicimov, Mermernata oltarska pregrada (see footnote 27),
pp. 101-117.
36 For examples of similar iconostases in Greece, see Th. Pazaras, Ho glyptos diakosmos tou palaiou katholikou ts mons Xenophntos sto Hagion
Horos, Deltion 14 (1987-1988): 33-48.
37 For the most recent discussion of the development of the iconostasis, and for earlier bibliography, see C. Walter, The Origins of Iconostasis,
Eastern Churches Review 3 (1971): 251-267; reprinted in Studies in Byzantine Iconography (London, 1977), No. 3; Idem, A New Look at the
Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier, REB 51 (1993): 203-228; M. Chatzidakis, Lvolution de licone aux l i e -13e sicles et la transformation du templon\ in: XVe congrs, pp. 159-191; T. Velmans, Rayonnement de Picone au X IIe et au dbut du X IIIe sicle, in: XVe congrs, pp. 195-227; G.
Babi, O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada, ZLU ll (1975): 3 -4 5 ; and A. W. Epstein, The Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier: Templon
or Iconostasis, Journal of the British Archaeological Association 134 (1981): 1 -27.

Chapter V
Byzantine foundations of the capital, such as the Pantokrator Monastery, the North Church of the Monastery
of Constantine Lips, and the church of Theotokos
Pammakaristos.38 Such a form of iconostasis is also at
tested to by archaeological findings and written records in
the provinces.39 Concerning the presence of the icons on
the iconostasis at Nerezi, we will first consider the origin
and meaning of the proskynetaria, and subsequently turn
to a more speculative discussion about the possible exis
tence of an epistyle and inter-columnar icons.

1. The Proskynetaria Icons


The proskynetaria icons flanking the iconostasis, as seen at
Nerezi, became a regular feature in twelfth-century
churches. According to surviving monuments, the earliest
proskynetaria date from the tenth and eleventh centuries.40
They are found, for example, in the church of the Koimesis at Nicea, where the mosaic icons of Christ-Antiphonis
and the Virgin Eleousa were represented beside the
iconostasis,41 and in St. Sophia at Ohrid, where the two
eastern piers display paired images of the Virgin.42 On the
basis of the remaining fragments of the marble frame,
which are preserved on the piers beside the iconostasis,
proskynetaria are also seen to have existed in the tenthcentury church of the Panagia in the monastic complex of
Hosios Loukas, Phocis, at Protaton on Mount Athos
(c. 961), and in Kililar Kilise in Cappadocia.43
Proskynetaria icons seem to have become particularly po
pular in twelfth-century churches. In Constantinople, frag
ments of the frames testify to the presence of proskynetaria
in the Kalenderhane Camii, and the Typicon of the Pantokrator Monastery indicates that they were probably exhib

91
ited in this largest monastic foundation of the time.44 Most
likely reflecting the practice of the capital, the proskynetaria
are also displayed in other twelfth-century churches, such as
at Daphni, at Lagoudera, at Samari on Peloponnesos, at
Kurbinovo, and at H. Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi in Kastoria.45
The inclusion of the proskynetaria in Kurbinovo and in H.
Nikolaos particularly indicates the importance which those
icons had at the time. The fact that eastern piers flanking the
iconostasis were omitted in these two churches did not pre
vent the patron from demanding proskynetaria. On the con
trary, in those two churches proskynetaria are painted on the
eastern section of the north and south walls and, like the
icons on the piers, they are distinguished from other saintly
images by virtue of their framing.
All of the surviving proskynetaria exhibit several cor
responding features. First, the proskynetaria always rep
resent important figures of the celestial hierarchy: Christ,
the Virgin, and the patron saint. Christ is paired with the
Virgin at Nicea, at Daphni, and at Lagoudera, while ei
ther Christ or the Virgin are displayed with the saint to
whom the church is devoted on the proskynetaria at
Kurbinovo, at Kastoria, and at Nerezi.46 In addition, the
proskynetaria images differed from other representations
of saints by virtue of their setting. As evident from the
surviving monuments, they were framed with decorated
marble architraves supported by colonnettes. Even when
the church was not rich enough to supply real marble, the
framing of the icon was painted in imitation of marble, as
can be seen at Kurbinovo, at H. Nikolaos, and at
Lagoudera. Above all, proskynetaria were important for
their function. As is evident from their name, the
proskynetaria represent devotional images of the holy
persons whom the patron of the church selected to inter
cede on his behalf and for his well-being.47 It is particu-

38 For Pantokrator Monastery, see P. Gautier, Le typikon du Christ Sauveur Pantocrator, REB 32 (1974): 33, 35, 37, 39; Megaw, Notes on the re
cent work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul (see footnote 16), pp. 33 5-62; and Harrison and Firatli, Excavations at Sarachane (see footnote
16), p. 276. For the Constantine Lips, North Church, see Grabar, Sculptures byzantines (see footnote 13), pp. 100-105.; T. Macridy, The Monastery
of Lips and the Burials of Palaeologi, DOP 18 (1964): 249-279; A. H. S. Megaw, The Original Form of the Theotokos Church of Constanin Lips,
DOP 18 (1964): 279-299; and C. Mango and E. J. W. Hawkins, Additional Notes on the Monastery of Lips, DOP 18 (1964): 299-315; For the
church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, see U. Peschlow, Architectural Sculpture, in: C. L. Striker and Y. Dogan Kuban, eds., Kalenderhane in Istan
bul. The Buildings, Their History, Architecture, and Decoration (Mainz, 1997), pp. 101 - 111; and H. Belting, Zur Skulptur aus der Zeit um 1300 in
Konstantinopel, Mnchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst 23 (1972): 70-73.
39 See Epstein, The Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier (see footnote 37), pp. 10-25.
40 The written evidence provided by the life of St. Artemios, however, indicates that proskynetaria may have existed already in pre-iconolastic times.
The image of Christ allocated to the space above the diakonikon in this text may have been an early version of a proskynetarion. See C. Mango, On
the History of the Templon and the Martyrion of St. Artemios at Constaninople, Zograf 10 (1979): 40-4 4 .
41 The dating of those icons is disputable, scholars debating whether they are from the tenth or from the eleventh century. For a discussion and bibli
ography, see Babi, O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada, p. 14.
42 The Virgin Eleousa is represented on the north pier, and the enthroned Theotokos is displayed on the south pier. See Petar Miljkovik-Pepek, La
fresque de la Vierge avec le Christ du pilier situ au nord de liconostase de Sainte Sophie Ohrid, in: Akten des XI. Internationalen Byzantinistenkongresses (Munich, 1958), pp.388-391.
43 See Babi, O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada (see footnote 37), pp. 16-18.
44 See Epstein, The Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier (see footnote 37), pp. 2 - 8.
45 Ibid., pp. 10-23.
46 The selection of proskynetaria images seems to be largely dependent on the dignitary to whom the church is devoted. The image of the Virgin is usu
ally paired with Christ in the churches devoted to the Virgin, such as Nicea and Lagoudera. In the churches which are devoted to the saints, such as
Kurbinovo, H. Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi, or Nerezi, it is the image of the patron saint which is displayed on proskynetaria. Moreover, the pairing of the
patron saint with either Christ or the Virgin seems to depend on the nature of the saint, Christ being more suitable for the military saints such as St.
George, and the Virgin corresponding to the saints of poverty such as St. Panteleimon.
47 See Chatzidakis, Lvolution de licone aux lle -1 3 e sicles (see footnote 37), pp. 161-163; Velmans, Rayonnement de licone (see footnote 37),
pp.204-208; Babi, O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada (see footnote 37), pp. 14-21;and Epstein, The Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Bar
rier (see footnote 37), p. 24.

Chapter V

92
larly evident from the proskynetaria at Kurbinovo and at
Lagoudera. At Kurbinovo, Christ, who is paired with
St. George, is also surrounded by St. John the Baptist and
by the Virgin, who holds a scroll with a Salvation prayer.
At Lagoudera, the image of the Virgin paired with Christ,
is also accompanied by St. John. The iconography of the
Deesis, clearly incorporated in the rendition of the
proskynetaria in those two churches, seemingly further
emphasized the theme of the intercession, since the
Deesis most likely acquired its intercessory content by
the twelfth century.48
The features of proskynetaria icons have led scholars to
believe that they originated from well known, and partic
ularly venerated, miraculous icons, which were carried in
processions, and exhibited both in the churches and in
the imperial court during special ceremonies.49 Like the
proskynetaria, the miraculous icons showed important
figures of the celestial hierarchy. Moreover, when dis
played, those icons were set on a small altar with a bal
dachin, a structure which resembles the frames of the
proskynetaria, and which is, like the framing of the
proskynetaria, meant to distinguish the importance of the
personages depicted.50 It is therefore quite possible, as
suggested by G. Babi, that at times when the patrons
were unable to acquire the celebrated miracle-icons
which were treasured in Constantinopolitan churches,
they requested their artists to reproduce the prototypes
of those icons on the walls of their churches.51 It is also
possible, however, that while adopting a format of the
mobile miraculous icons, the proskynetaria actually orig
inated from Byzantine votive imagery exhibited in
churches of pre-iconoclastic times, as pointed out by T.
Velmans. Velmans maintains that pre-iconoclastic images
of St. Demetrios in the company of bishops in the
Church of St. Demetrios, Thessaloniki, as well as the im
age of Leo VI in St. Sophia, Constantinople, seem to rep
resent the embryonic form of the theme of intercession,
which was later developed in the proskynetaria.52 An
ornate and meticulously carved frame which distin
guishes these especially Venerated icons is thus by no
means surprising at Nerezi.

2. Icons Above the Architrave


The presence of other icons on Nerezis iconostasis is possi
ble. According to the text on the Martyrion of St. Artemios,
icons appear on the iconostasis since pre-iconoclastic
times.53 Although no physical evidence testifies to the exis
tence of icons on the iconostasis before iconoclasm, this text
mentions that the images of St. John, St. Artemios, and
Christ were displayed on the templon; the exact position of
these icons, however, is not clarified in the text.
Concerning the Middle Byzantine period, both physical
evidence and written sources indicate that icons were dis
played above the architrave. Most likely that was the case
with the Pantokrator iconostasis, as well as with the
iconostasis in the Fethiye Camii in Constaninople.54 In
addition, six wooden epistyle beams dated between the
eleventh and thirteenth century are found at St. Cather
ines on Mount Sinai.55 Evidence for the common place
ment of icons above the architrave in the Middle Byzan
tine iconostasis from the capital and the provinces makes it
quite possible to assume that the iconostasis at Nerezi fea
tured them too.

3. Intercolumnar Icons
3.1. Controversy About Their Existence
Whether the intercolumnar spaces of the iconostasis at
Nerezi were enclosed is difficult to determine. The ap
pearance of intercolumnar icons, which obviously turned
an open screen of the templon into an opaque barrier, has
been a subject of a scholarly debate. While some scholars,
such as Mango, Chatzidakis, and Weitzmann propose a
tenth- or eleventh-century date for the introduction of in
tercolumnar icons, others, including Ouspensky, Lazarev,
Walter, and Epstein believe that it was either a late Byzan
tine or a post-Byzantine phenomenon.56
Given the surviving evidence, the degree to which the
iconostasis was closed at the time when Nerezi was erected
is difficult to determine. There is no explicit evidence, ei-

48 For a discussion of the meanings of the Deesis, see Chapter III, n. 116.
49 See Babic, O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada (see footnote 37), pp. 14-16.
50 No such installations survive, but visual examples are found in the manuscripts, e. g. on the frontispiece of the miniature from the Gospel Book of
Melbourne (MS 710/5), which exhibits the famous icon of the Virgin Hodegetria represented as a full-size, standing figure beneath the baldachin. See
Byzantine Art an European Art (Athens, 1964), pp. 316-317, fig. 311.
51 Babi, O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada (see footnote 37), p. 14.
52 Velmans, Rayonnement de licone (see footnote 37), pp. 206-208.
53 Mango, On the History of the Templon (see footnote 37), pp. 43-44.
54 For the Pantokrator Monastery and Fethiye Camii, see footnote 38. In addition, K. Weitzmann also proposed that a number of icons scattered
around Europe likely belonged to the iconostasis of an unknown church in Constantinople. See K. Weitzmann, An Ivory Plaque with Two of the
Fourty Martyrs of Sebaste in the Glencairn Museum, Bryn Athyn, PA., in: Euphrosynon: aphierma ston Manol Chatzdak (Athens, 1992),
pp. 704-712; Idem, Ivories and Steatites, Catalogue of Byzantine and Early Medieval Antiquites in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection (Washington,
1972),Vol. 3,101 -105; Idem, Diptikh slonovo kosti iz rmitazha, otnosiashchisia k krugu imperatora Romana, VizVrem 32 (1971): 142-156; and
Idem, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeine eines Bamberger Graduale und ihre ursprngliche Verwendung, in: Festschrift f r K. H. Usener (Marburg,
1967), pp. l l- 2 0 .
55 See G. and M. Sotiriou, Ikones ts Mons Sinai (Athens, 1958), pp. 102-110. K. Weitzmann, Icon Programs of the 12th and 13th Centuries at Sinai,
Deltion 12/4 (1984): 63-116; and Idem, A group of Early Twelfth-Century Sinai Icons Attributed to Cyprus, in: Studies in memory of David
Talbot Rice, ed. by G. Robertson and G. Henderson (Edinburgh, 1975), pp. 47-63.
56 See footnote 37.

Chapter V
ther literary or physical, which helps in determining the
existence of intercolumnar icons in the Middle Byzantine
period. Moreover, we also do not know whether the
iconostasis was closed by any other means, such as, for ex
ample, curtains. Most of what can be said is based on spec
ulation and different scholarly interpretations of texts and
archaeological evidence.57
3.2. Textual Evidence
Among the texts, particularly important are the Typica of
the Pantokrator Monastery, of Backovo monastery, and
the inventory of the church of the Theotokos ts Koteins
near Philadelphia in Asia Minor. The Typicon of the Pan
tokrator Monastery in Constantinople is vague and men
tions an iconostasis only in the sections relevant to the
censing and lighting of the church.58 While the Typicon
informs us about the existence of icons on the iconostasis,
it does not give any information about their location.
Two other texts, however, are more puzzling. The Typ
icon of Backovo states, We are obliged to set out lights
burning day and night in the following way: three lamps
before the image of the Holy Mother of God, one lamp in
the great bema, one lamp before the holy bema on the
chancel (screen) in front of the Crucifixion, one lamp be
fore the image of St. Michael [?], and three lamps at the
tomb.59 The inventory of the church of the Theotokos in
Asia Minor also mentions a number of small icons and
large images of Proskynesis.60
Whether the large icons mentioned in the church from
Asia Minor, and the Crucifixion and Archangel Michael of
Backovo refer to the proskynetaria panels flanking the ico
nostasis, as suggested by A. Epstein, or were they actually
intercolumnar icons, as claimed by M. Chatzidakis, is dif
ficult to say.61 The icons are not preserved, thus preventing
any definite conclusions about their placement.

93
should be noted, however, that according to reports, no re
mains of holes or clamps that would keep the intercolumnar
icons in place have been observed. Even if intercolumnia
were enclosed only by curtains, as has been suggested by
some scholars, traces of attachments should be visible.62
The provincial monuments, however, are more perplex
ing. For example, in a large number of Cappadocian chur
ches, an opaque barrier built of masonry separates the
sanctuary from the naos proper.63 Although the same re
gion provides examples of low sanctuary barriers too, the
notion of complete separation should not be disregarded.
The churches of Cyprus also provide some controversial
evidence. For example, in the church of Panagia tou Arakou at Lagoudera, in addition to proskynetaria, two icons
of the Virgin and of Christ are attached to the later ico
nostasis. Since those icons were executed by the same
artists who painted the church, Chatzidakis claim that
they indeed once decorated the original iconostasis is
rather plausible.64
Another church on Cyprus, the Enkleistra of St. Neophytos, near Paphos, also has retained the icons of the Vir
gin and Christ on the iconostasis. These icons are dated to
the end of the twelfth century and are thus contemporary
with the paintings in the church. The processional charac
ter of these icons led some scholars to believe that they
were not affixed to intercolumnar spaces, but rather placed
there temporarily, or placed on separate frames in front of
the templon; their mobile character, however, does not
preclude the possibility that they enclosed the intercolum
nar spaces and belonged to the iconostasis proper.65 Thus,
the question of the enclosure of intercolumnar spaces must
be left open to further consideration and we must remain
alert to any type of fragmentary remains which could shed
light on this problem in the future.

3.3. Archaeological Evidence

SUMMARY

The same dilemma is encountered when one examines the


archaeological evidence. Concerning Constantinople, the
archaeological information on the iconostasis from the
Middle Byzantine period is too incomplete to allow any
conclusions about the presence of intercolumnar icons. It

Since the Typikon of Nerezi has not survived, the re


maining fragments of iconostasis colonnettes do not show
traces of any attachments, and no contemporary icons are
preserved in the church, the existence of intercolumnar
icons is highly uncertain. All we can say in reconstructing

57 The different size of intercolumnar spaces at Nerezi would require two large and two narrow icons; the effect would have been somewhat akward.
58 For the Pantokrator Typikon, see Gautier, Le typikon du Christ Sauveur (see footnote 38), pp. 33, 35, 37, 39; and Epstein, The Middle Byzantine
Sanctuary Barrier (see footnote 37), pp. 2 - 6.
59 L. Petit, Typicon de Grgoire Pacourianos pour le Monastre de Ptritzos (Backovo) en Bulgarie, VizVrem ll (1904): 28, translated in: Epstein,
The Middle Byzanitne Sanctuary Barrier (see footnote 37), p. 22.
60 Epstein, ibid., p. 22.
61 Ibid., p. 22, n. 87; and Chatzidakis, Lvolution de licone (see footnote 37), pp. 165-169.
62 For the use of curtains, see Epstein, Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barriers (see footnote 37), p. 26; and Mango, On the History of the Templon
(see footnote 40), p. 43, n. 1.
63 For a discussion on the sanctuary barriers in Cappadocia and bibliography, see Epstein, Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barriers, pp. 15 -19 ; and N.
Asutay, Byzantinische Apsisnehenrume: Untersuchung zur Funktion der Apsisnehenrume in den Hhlenkirchen Kappadokiens und in den mittelbyzantinischen Kirchen Konstantinopels (Weimar, 1998).
64 For bibliography and discussion, see Chatzidakis, Lvolution de licone aux lle -1 3 e sicles (see footnote 37), p. 166; and Epstein, Middle Byzan
tine Sanctuary Barriers (see footnote 37), pp. 19 -2 1.
65 Ibid.

94
the original iconostasis is that it consisted of parapet slabs
separated by panels and surmounted by an architrave sup
ported by colonnettes. In its shape it resembles similar
iconostases both in the capital and in the province of Mace
donia. That the master of Nerezi did not have to go far to
find a model for his iconostasis is obvious also from the
stylistic and iconographic similarities between the sculp
tural fragments of Nerezi and those of other Macedonian

Chapter V
churches. Their close affinity with the sculpture of the cap
ital suggests that a workshop of highly skilled sculptors was
active in this province at the time. The high quality of the
sculpture at Nerezi also reveals that the patron, Alexios,
was sufficiently ambitious and capable to find a workshop
or a single sculptor who was skilled enough to produce an
iconostasis which in its beauty and in its form matched the
famous examples from Constantinople.

CHAPTER VI

EPILOGUE. NEREZI AFTER ALEXIOS

HISTORY

1.1. The Monastery of St. George-Gorgos Before 1376/77

The monastic community at Nerezi remained active until


the beginning of this century. Following the death of its
founder, Alexios, however, the monastery lost its prestige
and the church underwent a number of restorations. In
formation about the later medieval history of Nerezi can
be deduced only from two monastic Charters issued by
Serbian rulers: the Charter of King Milutin issued to the
monastery of St. George-Gorgos in Skopje in 1300; and
the Charter issued by Vuk Brankovi to Chilandar
Monastery in 1376/77.1

Subsequent medieval history of Nerezi was connec


ted with the events surrounding its head monastery of
St. George-Gorgos. According to written sources which
have been preserved from the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries, the monastery of St. George was the best orga
nized, richest, and the most reputable monastic foundation
in the eparchy of Skopje.5 Although the eparchy, like the
region itself, frequently changed rulers, a practice of grant
ing gifts and legal rights to this monastery, established by
Byzantine emperors, continued throughout the Middle
Ages.6 For example, shortly after the death of Manuel I
Komnenos in 1180, Byzantine emperor, Isaak II Angelos,
confirmed the holdings and privileges to the monastery of
St. George.7 Moreover, when Skopje came under the brief
Serbian rule in 1189-89, Grand Zupan of Rascia, Stefan
Nemanja, granted the monastery of St. George all of its
possessions and legal immunity.8 His action was repeated
by other rulers who conquered Skopje and its environs,
such as the Bulgarian Tsar Kalojan I (1197-1207); the ruler
of Epiros Theodore Angelos Doukas Komnenos when
Skopje fell under the rule of the Epirote Principality
(1215-30); Bulgarian Tsars, Ivan Asen II (1218- 1241) and
Koloman Asen (1241-1246); Nicean Tsar John III Doukas
Vatatzes who ruled Skopje in 1246; Bulgarian Tsar Konstantine Tich in c. 1256; and Serbian Tsar Uro I in 1258/59
when the region was re-conquered by the Serbs in
1258-1259.9 In 1259 Skopje was taken over by the Nicean
emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos.10 The Charter of King
Milutin mentions that another Byzantine emperor, An-

1. Nerezi as a Metoch of the Monastery


of St. George-Gorgos
King Milutins Charter informs us that the monastery of
St. Panteleimon and the surrounding lands were given as a
metoch to the monastery of St. George-Gorgos in Skopje,
an eleventh-century foundation of the Byzantine emperor
Romanos III Argyros (1028-1034), generously endowed
by Komnenian emperors.2 According to the Charter of
King Milutin, Nerezi and its monastic properties became a
possession of St. Georges monastery and changed status
from an imperialpronoia to a monasticp ronoia.3 While de
based in its status and power, Nerezi was most likely still
distinguished for its properties, since the Charter includes
vineyards of Nerezi in the specially protected lands, off
limits for everybody but the monastic communities of
St. George.4

1 For the edited text of King Milutins Charter, see V. Moin, Gramota na kral Milutin, in: Spomenici za srednovekovna iponovata istorija na Make
donija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, pp. 205-238; for Nerezi, see p. 219, no. 28. For the commentary and text of the Charter issued by Vuk Brankovi, see
Idem, Gramota na Vuk Brankovik, in: Spomenici za srednovekovna i ponovata istorija na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, pp. 239-241.
2 For the history and significance of this monastery see R. Gruji, Vlastelinstvo Svetog Djordja kod Skoplja od X I-X V veka, GSND 1 (1925):
45-75.
3 The term pronoia, in its administrative-fiscal meaning, refers to a grant of a certain amount of tax revenues from specific property, which has been
compared with the western term fief. The term and concept of pronoia was appropriated by the Latin and Serbian authorities in the Balkans. See
ODB, Vol. 3, pp. 1733-1734.
4 According to the Charter, the King ordered that anybody outside of the monastic community, who dared use these lands, was to be fined. See Gruji,
Vlastelinstvo (see footnote 2), p. 71.
5 The information about the monastery of St. George-Gorgos has been preserved in three monastic Charters: the Charter of the Bulgarian Tsar Konstantine Asen from 1258, the Charter of the Serbian King Milutin of 1300, and the Charter of Vuk Brankovi from 1376/77. For the text of these Char
ters and commentary, see V. Moin et al., Gramoti na manastirot Sv. Georgi-Gorg Skopski, in: Spomenici za srednovekovnata i ponovata istorija
na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, pp. 97-242.
6 According to preserved monastic charters, the monastery of St. George was granted considerable legal, administrative, and military priviledges. For
the text of these Charters and commentary, see V. Moin et al., Gramoti na manastirot Sv. Georgi-Gorg Skopski (see footnote 5), pp. 97-242. For
a discussion about the legal and other privileges of the monastery see Gruji, Vlastelinstvo (see footnote 2), pp. 59-73. For a general discussion
about monastic rights and priviledges in Byzantium, see J. P. Thomas, Private Religious Foundations in the Byzantine Empire (Washington, 1987),
pp. 214-244.
7 Indicated in the monastic Charter of Konstantine Asen; see V. Moin et al., Gramota na car Konstantin Asen, in: Spomenici za srednovekovna i
ponovata istorija na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, p. 185, n. 15.
8 This information is repeated in Charters of both Konstantine Asen and Milutin; for Konstantines Charter, see ibid., p. 185, n. 16; for the Charter of King
Milutin see Idem, Gramota na kral Milutin, in: Spomenici za srednovekovna iponovata istorija na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, p. 210, n. 8.
9 This information is provided in both Charters; see ibid., pp. 185, 211.
10 Gruji, Vlastelinstvo (see footnote 2), p. 49.

96
dronikos II Palaiologos (1282-1328), who ruled Skopje in
1282-83, also granted privileges to the monastery of
St. George.11 Skopje was re-conquered by King Milutin in
1283, and it became the capital of Serbia.12At that time, the
eparchy of Skopje was included into the archbishopric of
ia-Pe, and remained its integral part until the Turkish
siege of Skopje in 1392.13
Despite the frequent change of its rulers, and the shift
ing of the authority over the eparchy of Skopje between
Serbian, Byzantine and Bulgarian archbishoprics, the
monastery of St. George preserved its full legal immunity
granted to it by its initial founder, Romanos III Argyros,
in the eleventh century. Its monastic holdings, however,
deteriorated. From the 47 villages, initially granted to the
monastery by its founder, the fourteenth-century monas
tic Charter of King Milutin mentions only 18, that is
roughly a third of its original possessions.14Milutin added
four new villages to the monastery, Vodno, Nerezi, and
two newly established villages: one near the monastery
and the other, Dubravica near the Katlanovo lake.15
1.2. The Monastery of St. George as a Metoch
of Chilandar
Thus, following the year 1300, Nerezi lost its distinctive
status of an independent aristocratic foundation with
direct links to the imperial family, to become a much less
significant monastic house ruled by the head monastery of
St. George. Moreover, when the monastery of St. George,
with all its lands became a metoch of the Chilandar mon
astery in 1376/77, Nerezi too found itself a part of the larger
monastic house.16According to the Charter issued by Vuk
Brankovi, who ruled Skopje, Drenice, Kosovo Polje and
surrounding regions in the period between 1376/77, Vuk
gave the monastery of St. George with all its lands and pos
sessions to Chilandar monastery at the request of his
brother, a Chilandar monk, Gerasim.17 The Charter also
informs us that this change of ownership meant that the
monastery of St. George was required to contribute one
half of its income in money and goods to Chilandar.18
11
12
13
14
15
16

17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26

Chapter VI
The Charter of Vuk Brankovi is the last known docu
ment which mentions the monastery of St. George. It is
thus quite possible that this monastery lost its possessions
and lands as a consequence of the Turkish invasions of
Skopje in 1392. The extent of the decline of the monastery
of St. George is best seen from the fact that even its foun
dations are now gone and its actual location remains ob
scure, raising a number of scholarly debates.19

2. Nerezi After the Turkish Conquest of Skopje


The status of Nerezi, following the destruction of
St. Georges monastery and throughout the Turkish rule,
is difficult to establish. According to sources, from the
Turkish conquest of Skopje in 1392 until the restoration of
the Patriarchate of Pe, Nerezi was under the jurisdiction
of the Archbishopric of Ohrid.20 Subsequently, in 1766,
both the Patriarchate of Pe and the Patriarchate of Ohrid
came under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Con
stantinople until 1920 when they were included into the
renewed Serbian church.21 The Eparchy of Skopje was in
corporated within the Serbian church until the establish
ment of the independent Macedonian Orthodox church in
1974.22
Preserved documents testify to monastic activity at
Nerezi until the later half of the nineteenth century. The
inscription in the Triodion (c. 1535), kept now in the Bul
garian National Library in Sofia, indicates that the Trio
dion was given to Nerezi by some Philip during the time
of metropolitan Theophanos on the day of St. Pantelei
mon, on July 27 1672 (according to the old calendar).23 In
1688, the monastery is mentioned in an Octoechos.24 In
the nineteenth century, the monastery is mentioned twice,
in the Russian book which belonged to the monastery and
was a gift given to the monastery in December of 1842 and
during the time of hegoumenos Seraphim, archiman
drite;25 and in the Trebnik of the monastery from 1856.26
The Trebnik mentions that the monastery is located about
two hours away from Skopje (likely referring to a walking

Moin, Gramota na kral Milutin (see footnote 8), p. 211, n. 15.


Gruji, Vlastelinstvo (see footnote 2), p. 50.
M. Gruji, Skopska mitropolija (Skopje, 1935), p. 87.
Moin, Gramota na kral Milutin (see footnote 8), pp.214-228.
Ibid., pp.219-220.
See Moin et al., Gramota na Vuk Brankovi (see footnote 1), p. 240. It is, however, interesting to point out that many monasteries in the Eparchy
of Skopje were given to Chilandar during the Serbian rule. In fact, during Serbian rule, Chilandar acquired six smaller and nine larger monastic houses
in this region. See Gruji, Skopska mitropolija (see footnote 13), pp. 145-158.
Gerasim held considerable properties in the Ohrid region prior to his becoming a monk at Chilandar. See Gruji, Skopska mitropolija (see footnote
13), p. 145-147.
See Moin et al., Gramota na Vuk Brankovi (see footnote 1), p. 241.
For a discussion and bibliography, see K. Petrov, Gramotite na manastirot Sv. Georgi Gorgos i obid za iznaoganje na negoviot lokalitet, in:
Spomenici za srednovekovna i ponovata istorija na Makedonija (Skopje, 1975), Vol. 1, pp. 242-251.
Gruji, Skopska mitropolija (see footnote 13), pp. 190-234.
Ibid.
See S. Dimevski, Istorija na makedonska pravoslavna crkva (Skopje, 1989), pp. 785-1137.
Lj. Stojanovi, Stari srpski zapisi i natpisi 6 Vols. (Belgrade, 1902-26, reprint 1986-87), Vol. 6, no. 6989, and Vol. 6, no. 10180.
Ibid., Vol. 1, no. 2065.
The type of the book in question is not identified in the source; see Ibid., Vol. 5, no. 9242.
Ibid., Vol. 5, no. 9293.

Chapter VI
distance), and that there is a source of healing water not far
from the monastery, called Sultans Water. In addition,
several notes found in manuscripts and inscriptions on the
exterior walls mention that the church was frequented by
high church dignitaries until the later half of the nineteenth
century.27 When the monastic community seized to exist,
however, is difficult to determine. By the time the Russian
art historian, Nikolas Okunev, visited the church in 1925,
the monastery was deserted and its church dilapidated.

POST-BYZANTINE PAINTINGS
1. Introduction
As discussed in the chapter on architecture, the physical
appearance of Nerezi is shaped more by natural disasters
than by historical circumstances. Judging by archaeologi
cal evidence, the restorations of the painted cycle were by
and large a consequence of the damages inflicted by several
earthquakes and by the sliding of the terrain on which the
church is erected. Thus, following the original decoration
in the twelfth century, portions of the church were re
painted in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and nineteenth cen
turies. According to written evidence, it seems that the
twelfth-century decoration was intact until the earthquake
in 1555.28 This is at least suggested by a written record
from the Triodion of 1535 which mentions that the church
was in good shape, although some other churches in the
vicinity of Skopje were destroyed at the time.29 Thus, the
sixteenth-century restoration of the painted decoration
most likely coincided with the restorations of the architec
ture of the church.
Structural damage of the vaults inflicted by the 1555
earthquake resulted in the complete loss of the twelfthcentury cycle in the upper zones of the church and in some
small scale damages on the walls of the sanctuary. Judging
by what has been preserved up to the present day, the sixteenth-century artists were highly skilled restorers with
solid knowledge of medieval programs and painting tech
niques. This is particularly apparent when one considers
the interventions which they have made within the exis
ting, twelfth-century scenes. For example, the care with
which they re-painted the damaged apostles within the
Communion scene clearly suggests that the artists were
27
28
29
30
31

97
concerned about preserving the original decorative ideas
of the twelfth-century program. Instead of completely
masking the damaged portions of the twelfth-century
apostles, the artists painted sixteenth-century substitutes
slightly above the remains of the original apostles (pis. 10,
l l ; fig. 16).30
2. Bema
The artists effort to preserve the original iconographic
concept of the cycle is also seen in the image of the Virgin
painted in the conch of the apse and in the scene of the
Koimesis placed on the west wall above the twelfth-cen
tury scenes from the life of the Virgin (pls. 8a, 8b;
figs. VIII, XV; 13). While both images were common in the
sixteenth century, the context of the program at Nerezi
suggests that they most likely recreated the original,
twelfth-century iconography. The Koimesis, located at the
summit of the western wall, would have represented a
common pendant to other twelfth-century Marian scenes
at Nerezi, and the image of the Virgin and Child, as dis
cussed earlier, was regularly rendered in the conch of the
apse since the iconoclasm.
In choosing the iconography for the vaults, however,
sixteenth-century artists showed very little respect for the
original decoration, their images often repeating the ones
from the twelfth-century depicted elsewhere in the
church. For example, in the eastern vault of the bema, the
sixteenth-century painter represented the image of the An
cient of Days; it duplicates the twelfth-century image in
the dome of the diakonikon (pls. 8a, 8b; figs. XXII, 84).31
The sixteenth-century Ancient of Days is shown holding
an open book with the text of the prayer of the Trisagion
(Isaiah 6, 3; Rev. 4, 8): Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of
Host.32 The image of the Ancient of Days is flanked by
scenes depicting Christ with the Samaritan Woman (north)
and the Miracle at the Tiberian Sea (south).33 Underneath
these two scenes, at the springing point of the vault, one
sees the Annunciation, another scene which duplicated the
twelfth-century rendition (pls. 8a, 8b; fig. 85). It shows
Archangel Gabriel on the north and the Virgin on the
south side of the vault, respectively. The western vault is
occupied by the scene of the Ascension of Christ and
flanked by the Birth of Christ to the south; the north side
of this vault is mostly defaced.

Ibid. Vol. 1, nos. 1694, 1897; Vol. 6, nos. 10181, 10183, 10184.
See P. Miljkovi-Pepek, Prilozi prouavanju crkve manastira Nereza, ZLU 10 (1074): 38.
For a discussion and bibliography, see Gruji, Skopska mitropolija (see footnote 13), p. 198.
See Chapter III, pp. 30 -3 1.
The image is inscribed in Old Church Slavonic as [] . It was wrongly identified by Hamman-Mac Lean as the image of St. Sava. See
R. Hamman-Mac Lean and H. Hallensleben, Die Monumentalmalerei in Serbien und Makedonien vom 11. bis zum frhen 14. Jahrhundert (Giessen,
1963), pls. 6 - 7 .I am grateful to Asen Kirin for his help with Old Church Slavonic inscriptions.

32

[...]

33 Both scenes are inscribed.


North:

South:
[ ]

98

Chapter VI

3. Central Cupola

5. Analysis of the Sixteenth-Century Cycle

Destroyed by the earthquake, the central cupola was


entirely repainted in the sixteenth century. It exhibits
Christ Pantokrator in the dome, the Divine Liturgy in the
upper concentric circle of the drum, and a series of
prophets between the windows (pls. 8a, 8b; figs. IX, XII;
86, 87). The image of the Pantokrator is surrounded by the
text of the prayer which paraphrases Psalm 101/102,
19-21.
For he hath look ed dow n fro m the h eigh t o f his sanctuary; fro m h eaven did the Lord b eh old the earth; To hear
the groaning o f the prisoner; to loose those that are ap
p oin ted to death; To declare the nam e o f the Lord in Zion,
and his praise in Jerusalem ... 34
The cupola is supported by pendentives, decorated, as
was customary since the Byzantine era, with the images of
evangelists (figs. IX, XII). The sixteenth-century decora
tion of the dome might have repeated some of the original,
twelfth-century iconography. Although the domical vault
is completely covered by the sixteenth-century paintings,
and no evidence permits the reconstruction of the original
program, the central medallion of Christ Pantokrator and
the liturgical content of the dome might have been based
on the twelfth-century concepts, as discussed in Chapter
III. In their present form, however, they adhere to the
iconographic model established in Byzantium since the
fourteenth century.

The analysis of the sixteenth-century cycle suggests that


artists were inconsistent in their attitude towards the orig
inal, twelfth-century painted cycle: in some instances they
were very precise in their reconstructive efforts, while in
others they have completely disregarded it. It appears that
when the original layer was almost fully preserved, artists
were very keen on preserving its twelfth-century iconog
raphy, as seen, for example, on the walls of the bema. In the
instances when large areas of painted decoration were de
stroyed, however, the sixteenth-century artists took the
liberty of creating their own programmatic solutions. In
doing so, they completely disregarded the original cycle,
and simply duplicated a number of scenes, such the An
nunciation, the Presentation, the Transfiguration, and the
Entry into Jerusalem (pls. 8a, 8b). The attitude of Nerezis
painters is not unusual in the post-Byzantine period. As
evident from many examples, artists often indulged both
in precise and in arbitrary reconstructions, as seen, for ex
ample, in the narthex of Graanica, naos and inner narthex
of Studenica, and at Moraa.35
The sixteenth-century restorations of Nerezi most
likely coincided with the increased level of artistic activity
in the region following the restoration of the Patriarchate
in Pe in 1557.36 The style of Nerezis paintings, however,
has very little in common with the majority of Serbian
monuments on the territory of the Patriarchate which
were painted at the time, such as the inner narthex and por
tions of the Church of the Virgin in Studenica (1568),
Mileeva (1568), narthex of Graanica (1570), and narthex
of the church of St. Nicholas Dabarski.37 On the contrary,
located close to the borders of the Patriarchate, Nerezi
shows stylistic affinities with other monuments on the pe
riphery, notably with the Church of St. Petka at Vukovo in
what is now western Bulgaria.38 The closeness of the styl
istic features of the two churches becomes particularly ap
parent when one compares the figures of the Virgin in the
conch and the scene of the Ascension of the Virgin in the
two churches (fig. 13).39 The physiognomy of the image of
Ancient of Days at Nerezi is also similar to the face of
Christ in the Ascension of the Virgin at Vukovo. The tri
angular shape of Christs face and the use of geometrically
shaped white shades to accentuate cheeks and forehead is
comparable in the two monuments (fig. 81).40 Since Nerezi
and Vukovo are geographically, chronologically, and
stylistically related, it is quite possible that they were
painted either by the same group of artists or by the group

4. Naos
The remains of the sixteenth-century cycle in the naos
reveal scenes dedicated to the life and the Passion of
Christ. The south lunette of the south arm of the cross dis
plays the Baptism to the east of the two-light window and
the Washing of the Feet to the west, while the scenes of the
Presentation, the Resurrection of Lazarus, and the Prayer
at Gethsemane are represented in the vault (pl. 8 b; fig. 88).
The north arm of the cross exhibits the scenes of Christ be
fore Pilate (west) and the Women at the Tomb of Christ
(east) in the lunette, and the Arrest of Christ and the Cru
cifixion in the vault (pl. 8 a). The Transfiguration and the
Entry into Jerusalem are represented on the west vault.
The sixteenth-century scenes are separated from the
twelfth-century ones by a gallery of saints painted in
medallions as became customary in Byzantium since the
Palaiologan period (pls. 8 a, 8 b).
34 e [ i ]
o [ X ] - of o o NI * c
i [? ]
o o [ ]

35
36
37
38
39
40

The last sentence from this inscription is not from a Psalm, and can be translated as Oh Lord, Lord look, see, and come.
For the sixteenth-century paintings and discussion, see V. Petkovi, Zidno slikarstvo Peke patrijarije, 1557-1614 (Novi Sad, 1965), pp. 109-118.
Petkovi, Slikarstvo Peke patrijarije (see footnote 35), pp. 118-130.
Ibid.
E. Floreva, Srednovekovni stenopisi. Vukovo. 1598 g. Crkvata Sv. Petka (Sophia, 1987).
For Vukovo, see ibid, figs. 18, 20, 48.
Ibid.

Chapter VI
of artists trained in the same tradition. The origin of artists
of Nerezi and Vukovo is somewhat difficult to determine;
the eloquent execution of the images in both churches,
however, indicates that they were well trained and highly
skilled.41
Although the sixteenth-century paintings at Nerezi ex
hibit refined style and high quality of execution, they are
nonetheless lacking the exquisiteness and prime status of
their twelfth-century predecessors. The quality of exe
cution seemingly further deteriorated in the painted layers
of the subsequent centuries. All that has remained from
the seventeenth century is the fresco-icon of archangel
Michael which flanks the south side of the main portal
(fig. LVIII); hence the extent of the seventeenth-century
re-painting remains unknown. The archangel is repre
sented as carrying an inscription which identifies its donor
as a man by the name of Stojko.

6. Nineteenth-Century Paintings
The church was re-painted again in the nineteenth century,
but that layer has been removed, as mentioned earlier.
Written records about the nineteenth-century paintings
are scarce and far from complimentary. For example, the
art historian F. Mesesnel characterized the nineteenthcentury painted layer as dilettante and aesthetically offen
sive.42 Rebecca West, in her book about travel through the
Balkans, describes the paintings as showing tight, round,
pink little people chubbily doing quite entertaining things,
as you see them represented in the paintings of merry-go-

99
rounds and advertising boards of French fairs, and ex
ploited in the pictures of Marc Chagall and his kind; and it
would be pity to destroy them if they were not covering
fine medieval frescoes.43 Interestingly enough, West
refers to these paintings as peasants frescoes, which the
local population liked more than the old ones.44 It is thus
apparent that by the nineteenth century Nerezi completely
lost the sophistication of its initial patron and distinctive
eloquence of the initial artists which he commissioned.

7. Nerezi Today
Nerezi, however, never lost its faithful worshippers. Al
though it currently has a status of a monument of art and
is not functioning as a church, the mass which is celebrated
only once a year, on the day of the patron saint, draws a
large number of people from all surrounding villages and
from the city of Skopje (fig. XIV). Thus Nerezi remains
popular among the local population up to the present day.
Moreover, following the discovery of the twelfth-century
paintings, the churchs distinctive status and Alexios am
bitious achievements have been revived. While the local
population crowds the church with pride and reverence on
the feast of the patron saint, tourists and scholars pay their
homage to this unique monument daily. The initial glory
of the church is, above all, preserved in its numerous men
tion in both scholarly and popular literature about Byzan
tium and the region of Skopje. It was a goal of this book to
pay yet another tribute to the fame of this exquisite mon
ument of Byzantine civilization.

41 Historical circumstances suggest that these artists were of Greek origin, or under the Greek influence. As pointed out by scholars, following the
Turkish conquest, the Archbishopric of Ohrid promoted the activity of Greek painters in the newly-acquired northern regions inhabited by Slavs.
Although Serbian church organization was restored in 1557, and the activity of Greek painters was considerably diminished within the territory of
the Patriarchate, they or their tradition nonetheless seemingly remained popular on the periphery. This topic, however, requires a more extensive
study. For a discussion on the relationship between the Greek and Serbian painting during the post-Byzantine period, see S. Petkovi, Iconographic
Similarities and Differences Between Serbian and Greek Painting From the Middle of the Fifteenth to the End of the Seventeenth Centuries, in: Euphrosynon: aphierma ston Manol Chatzdak, Vol.2 (Athens, 1992), pp. 517-523.
42 See F. Mesesnel, Kako da se sauva i obnovi crkva Sv. Pantelejmona iz 12. veka kod sela Nerezi? GSND 2 (1929): 299-304.
43 R. West, Black Lamb and Gray Falcon (New York, 1941), p. 689.
44 Ibid.

CONCLUSION

A discussion about Nerezi would be incomplete without a


reassessment of its relationship with Constantinople.
Nerezis links with the Byzantine capital are most clearly
established through the Constantinopolitan origin of its
patron, Alexios. The decision of this Komnenian prince to
build his church in the province of Macedonia has been ex
plained through the importance the region held for
Byzantium and through the omnipresence of the highest
ranking members of the Komnenian family, the emperor
included, in the region. Specific information about the role
which this particular church played in Macedonia, and
in twelfth-century Byzantium in general, emerges through
a contextual analysis of its structural and decorative
features.
The most distinguished characteristic of Nerezi is the
exceptional beauty and powerful ideological message of its
painted decoration. The new iconographic features as well
as the innovative compositional arrangement of scenes and
images reveal both the political views and private desires
of the patron; they also exhibit Alexios loyalty to the
Komnenian family in general, and to his cousin, emperor
Manuel I, in particular. Alexios loyalty to the Komnenoi
is particularly evident in the significant role which the de
bates of the current Church Councils of Constantinople presided over and judged by the emperor himself - played
in the formation of the novel iconography of the church.
As the analysis of the painted decoration revealed, the in
troduction of new liturgical scenes, such as the Kiss of the
Apostles, the procession of bishops officiating before the
Hetoimasia, and the choir of angels in the domes, reflects
the imperial point of view in the current ecclesiastical de
bates. Alexios intent to persuade the local audience in the
current dogmatic and political messages emanating from
the capital is also seen in the participatory nature of the
program. While the homage paid to the cults of local
saints, such as Sts. Andrew and Luke, and H. Anargyroi,
created a familiar setting for the beholder, the emotionally
saturated cycle, focused on the passion and sacrifice of
Christ and His saints, humanized religious experience and
appealed to the sentiments of the congregation. Enclosed
in a carefully articulated space, governed by juxtaposed
scenes and images, the faithful was overwhelmed by and
immersed into, the powerful effect of both the beauty and
the spiritual message of the scenes and images.
The sheer beauty of the painted decoration, while sig
nificant in itself, also contributed to the persuasive nature
of the program. The elegance, sophistication, and refine
ment of the cycle must have appealed to the local audience
then, as it does to us now. Moreover, the quality of execu
tion of these paintings, like the content of their messages,
immediately drew ones mind to the Byzantine capital as a
source.

The strong associations which these paintings have with


the best art of the capital undermine the importance of the
question about the actual origins of the artists. In fact, the
high quality of execution of painted programs in contem
porary churches located in the vicinity of Nerezi, particu
larly these in Thessaloniki, suggest that Alexios, in all
likelihood, did not need to import his masters from Con
stantinople. A skilled group of masters might have already
resided in the region when he arrived. However, it is im
portant to emphasize that even if Alexios relied on artists
who were available in the region, he made sure that their
training and skills were sufficiently advanced to associate
their work with the best art of the capital.
The same intention, to recreate the immediate associa
tion with Constantinople, is also seen in the architecture
and in the sculpture of the church. As with painted decora
tion, the question of the origin of the actual architectural
and sculptural workshops bears little significance com
pared to the quality of and the messages implied in their
work. When choosing his sculptors, Alexios did not have to
reach beyond the regional frontiers, since highly skilled
artists were already present in Macedonia. Matching, in the
high quality of their work, the best examples of Constanti
nopolitan sculpture, the sculptural fragments of Nerezi
also closely correspond to contemporaneous Macedonian
production in this medium. Thus, it is quite possible that
rather than fussing over the origin of his sculptors - a
method apparently more particular to current scholars than
to twelfth-century patrons - Alexios was essentially con
cerned about their skills. He clearly wanted a finely carved
iconostasis which in its form and in its beauty would be fit
for any contemporary Constantinopolitan church.
A clear intention to recall the capital in the appearance of
Nerezi is also apparent in the architecture of the building.
Despite many imperfections and regionalisms, which
might have been a consequence of practical matters, such as
resources, structure of the terrain, and availability of mate
rials, significant features of the spatial articulation of
Nerezi and, above all, the constellation of its five domes,
immediately draw ones mind to Constantinople. Thus,
one governing principle, the idea to recall the Byzantine
capital in the hinterlands, ruled all aspects of the erection
and decoration of Nerezi. Differently expressed, as re
quired partly by specific characteristic of the medium and
partly by practical considerations, this concept gave Nerezi
its distinguished status in the history of Byzantine civiliza
tion. Although most powerfully and most elegantly ex
pressed in the painted decoration of Nerezi, a connection
with Constantinople also reverberates through the archi
tectural design and the sculptural ensemble of the church.
The breath of Constantinopolitan culture which perme
ates Nerezi also helps in reconstructing the identity of its

Conclusion
patron, Alexios. In building Nerezi, a private aristocratic
monastic church, Alexios exhibited his own need for both
personal salvation and self-glorification - a gesture com
mon in Komnenian aristocratic circles. His choice to dis
tinguish his connections with the imperial circles of the
Byzantine capital in this provincially located church, how
ever, also reflects Alexios personal aspirations and his loy
alty to the Komnenian clan. On the one hand, the dedica
tory inscription which stresses Alexios imperial lineage,
along with the Constantinopolitan features of his church,
signify the distinguished status and social prestige which
Alexios must have enjoyed in Macedonia. On the other
hand, the Constantinopolitan appearance of the church
also made the Komnenian presence in the region manifest.
Thus, Nerezi represents an important symbol of the po
tent political and cultural dominion which the Komnenoi
established in twelfth-century Macedonia.
A discrepancy between the consistency of Alexios met
ropolitan concept, and many regional solutions evident in
various aspects of his church, calls for a re-examination of
the current methodology employed in labeling a monument
as either provincial or Constantinopolitan. Without un
derplaying the importance of a careful formal analysis of all
aspects of a monument as the major tool in elucidating its
meaning and significance, the case of Nerezi indicates that a
process of systematic addition of meticulously analyzed

101
parts does not always - if ever - resolve the puzzle. In other
words, neither the provincial solution of the full walls which
support the domes at Nerezi, nor the regional origin of the
sculptors who executed the iconostasis, provide enough ev
idence to label the church as provincial. As the foregoing
discussion has shown, the provincially conceived segrega
tion of architectural space at Nerezi, has been overcome by
the spatially integrated painted program.
Many factors, such as the mentality of culture, the
socio-political circumstances in the region, as well as the
goals and aspirations of the individuals who invested
themselves in their buildings, should be taken into consid
eration. Thus Nerezi, like any other monument, has to be
viewed both integrally and contextually. Once Alexios
placed five domes on his foundation, in the mind of a
Byzantine beholder, educated in the visual environment of
symbolically potent signs and images, the church was re
lated to major imperial foundations of the capital. After
all, the meaning and the significance of the building, both
inside and outside, is in the eye of the twelfth-century be
holder - rather than in the mind of the twentieth-century
scholar. Following that logic, one has to accept that Alex
ios brought his concept to fruition. Despite all of its im
perfections and provincialisms, Nerezi still recalls the
highest achievements of the capital of a long gone empire
and its lost monuments.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. H istory

Fine, J. V. A., Early M edieval Balkans (Ann Arbor, MI, 1983).

Angold, M., Church and Society in Byzantium U nder the


Comneni, 1081-1261 (Cambridge, 1995).
-., (ed.), The Byzantine A ristocracy IX to XIII C enturies,
British Archaeological Reports, International Series
221 (Oxford, 1984).

Gautier, P. (ed.), T heophylacti Achridensis Epistulae (Thes


saloniki, 1980).
Gelzer, H., D er Patriarchat von Achrida. G eschichte und
Urkunden (Leipzig, 1902).

Antoljak, S., S rednovek ovna M akedonija (Skopje, 1985).

Gouillard, J., Le Synodikon de lOrthodoxie: dition et


commentaire, Travaux et m m oires 2 (1967): 1-298.

Barzos, K., H gen ea logia t n K om nnn, 2 Vols. (Thessa


loniki, 1984).

Gruji, M., Skopska m itropolija (Skopje, 1935).

Bokoski, M., Vizantijski peat Jovana Komnina, duksa


Skopja, ZRVI22 (1983): 38-40.
Browning, R., Byzantium and Bulgaria (Berkeley,
1975).

Hendy, M. F., Studies in the Byzantine M onetary E conomy


c. 300-1450 (Cambridge, 1985).
-., C oinage and M oney in the Byzantine Empire
1081-1261 (Washington, 1969).

Chalandon, F., Jean II C om nne et M anuel I C om n n e,


2 Vols. (Paris, 1912).

Herrin, J., Realities of Byzantine Provincial Govern


ment: Hellas and Peloponnesos, 1180-1205, DOP 29
(1975): 253-285.

Cheremuchin, P., Konstantinopolski Sobor 1157 g. i


Nikola, episkop Mefonski, B ogoslovskie Trudy 1
(1960): 87-109.

Hussey, J. M., The O rthodox Church in the Byzantine


Empire (Oxford, 1986).

Choniates, N., O City o f Byzantium. Annals o f Niketas


C honiates, tr. by H. J. Magoulias (Detroit, 1984).

Kazhdan, A. P. and Epstein, A. W., C hange in Byzantine


C ulture in the E leventh and Twelfth C enturies (Los
Angeles, 1985).

Chrisophilopoulou, Aik., Byzantine


Byzantina 12 (1983): 9-63.

Khitrovo, S., Itinraires russes en O rient (Geneva, 1889).

Makedonia,

Classen, P., Das Konzil von Konstantinopel 1166 und die


Lateiner, BZ 48 (1955): 339-368.

Kinnamos, J., D eeds o f Joh n and M anuel C om nenus, tr. by


C. M. Brand (New York, 1976).

Deroko, A., Srednjevekovni grad Skopje, Spomenik 70


(1971): 1-17.

Koledarov, N., Obrazuvane na tema Makedoniia v


Trakiia, Izvestiia na Instituta za istoriia 21 (1970):
219-243.

Dini, M, The Balkans, 1018-1499, in: C am bridge M e


d ieva l H istory Vol. IV/1: The Byzantine Empire, edited
by J. M. Hussey (Cambridge, 1966), pp. 519-539.

Kravari, V., Villes et villages de M acdoine occidentale


(Paris, 1989).
Ivanov, I., Blgarski starini iz M akedoniia (Sofia, 1970).

Dondaine, A., Hugues thrien et Lon Toscan,


A rchives d histoire doctrinale et litteraire du m oyen ge
19 (1952): 67-134.
-., Hugues thrien et le concile de Constantinople de
1166, H istorisches Jahrbuch 77 (1958): 473-483.

Loos, M., Dualist H eresy in the M iddle Ages (Prague,


1974).

Dvornik, F., The Idea o f A postolicity in Byzantium (Cam


bridge, Mass., 1958).

Magdalino, P., The Empire o f M anuel I K om nenos


1143-1180 (Cambridge, 1993).

Ferjani, B., Apanani posedi kesara Jovana Rogerija,


ZRVI 12 (1983): 193-201.

Mango, C., The Art o f the Byzantine Empirey 312-1453:


Sources and D ocum ents (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1972).
-., The Concilar Edict of 1166, DOP 17 (1963):
317-330.

Ferluga, J., Byzance et les Balkans vers la fin du XIIe si


cle, in: Studenica i vizantijska um etnost oko 1200 g o dine (Belgrade, 1988), pp. 17-24.
-., Byzantium on the Balkans. Studies on the Byzantine
Administration and the Southern Slavs fro m the VIIth
to the XIIth C enturies (Amsterdam, 1974).

Kondakov, N. P., Makedoniia. A rkheologicheskoe p u teshestvie (Saint Petersburg, 1909).

Markovi, V., P ravoslavno m onatvo i manastiri u sredn jevek ovn oj Srbiji (Sremski Karlovci, 1920).
Mikulik, I., Skopje so okolnite tvrdini (Skopje, 1982).

Selected Bibliography

103

Moin, V. (ed.), Spom enici za srednovek ovnata ip on ova ta


istorija na M akedonija (Skopje, 1975).

-., Sardis Church E -A Preliminary Report, JO B 26


(1977): 271 -280.

Nesbitt, J. and Oikonomides, N., C atalogue o f Byzantine


Seals at D um barton Oaks and in the F ogg M useum o f
Art (Washington, 1991).

anak-Medi, M. and Bokovi, Dj., Arhitektura


N em anjinog doba, 1. Crkve u Toplici i dolinam a Ibra i
M orave (Belgrade, 1986).

Obolensky, D., The Byzantine C om m onw ealth (Crestwood, NY, 1982).

Thetford, G., The Christological Councils of 1166 and


1170 in Constantinople, St. Vladimirs T heological
Q uarterly 31 (1987): 143-161.

uri, S., St. Marys of the Admiral: Architecture, in:


E. Kitzinger, The Mosaics o f St. M arys o f the Admiral
in Palerm o (Washington, 1991).
-., Late Byzantine Loca Sancta? Some Questions Re
garding the Form and Function of Epitaphoi, in:
The Twilight o f Byzantium , edited by S. (uri and
D. Mouriki (Princeton, 1990).
-., Art and A rchitecture in the Balkans: An A nnotated Bib
liography (Boston, 1984).
-., Medieval Royal Tombs in the Balkans: An Aspect of
the East or West Question, The Greek Orthodox
T heological R eview 29 (1984): 175-195.
-., Graanica: K ing Milutins Church and Its Place in Late
Byzantine A rchitecture (University Park, PA, 1979).
-., Architectural Significance of Subsidiary Chapels in
Middle Byzantine Churches, JSAH 36/2 (1977):
94-110.
-., Twin-Domed Narthex in Palaeologan Architecture,
ZRVI13 (1971): 333-344.

Thomas, J. P., P rivate R eligious Foundations in Byzantine


Empire (Washington, D. C., 1987).

Faensen, H. and Ivanov, V., Early Russian A rchitecture


(London, 1975).

Urbansky, A. B., Byzantium and the D anube Frontier


(New York, 1968).

Frantz, A., The Church o f the H oly Apostles (Princeton,


1971).

IL A rchitecture

Grossmann, P., Zur typologischen Stellung der Kirche


von Hosios David in Thessalonike, Felix R avenna
(1984-1985): 253-260.

Ostrogorski, G., H istory o f the Byzantine State (New


Brunswick, NJ, 1969).
-., Vozvyshenie roda Angelov, lu h ilen y sbornik
Russkogo ark heologichesk ogo obshestva v K orolovstve
Iugoslavii (Belgrade, 1936), pp. Ill -129.
Sakkos, S. N., H en Knstantinoupolei synodos tou
1170, in: Theologikon Symposion in H onor o f P.
C hrestou (Thessaloniki, 1967), pp. 313-352.
Snegarov, I., Istoriia na Okhridskata Arkhiepiskopiia
(Sofia, 1924).
Stojanovi, Lj., Stari srpski zapisi i natpisi (Belgrade,
1902-1926; reprint 1986-87).

Aleksova, B., Episkopija na Bregalnica (Prilep, 1989).


Bergman, R. P., Byzantine Influence and Private Patron
age in a Newly Discovered Medieval Church in Amalfi:
S. Michele Arcangelo in Pogerola, JSAH 50/4 (Dec.
1991): 421-455.
Bouras, Ch., The Byzantine Tradition in Church Archi
tecture of the Balkans in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth
Centuries, in: The Byzantine Tradition After the Fall
o f C onstantinople, edited by J. J. Yiannias (Char
lottesville, 1991), pp. 107-149.
-., Typologikes Paratrseis sto Katholiko ts Mons tn
Mangann stn Knstantinoupol, D eltion 31(1976):
136-153.
-., H Palaiopanagia st Manolada, in: Epet ris ts P olytechniks Schols tou A ristoteleiou Panepist m iou
Thessaloniks, Vol. 4 (Thessaloniki, 1969).
-., Symplrmatika stoicheia gia ena katestrammeno nao
ts Boiotias, D eltion 4 (1964-65): 227-244.
Brunov, N., Zum Problem des Kreuzkuppelsystems,
Jahrbuch
der
sterreichischen
byzantinischen
G esellschaft 16 (1967): 245-261.
Buchwald, H., Lascarid Architecture, J B 28 (1979):
261-297.

Haditrifonos, E., Pristup tipologiji petokupolnih crkava


u vizantijskoj arhitekturi, Saoptenja 22/23
(1990-91): 41-76.
Hallensleben, H, Untersuchungen zur Genesis und Ty
pologie des Mystratypus,J B 26 (1977): 105-118.
Iaralov, I. S. et al., Arkhitektura vostoch n oi Evropy srednie
veka (Moscow, 1966).
Koch, G., Albanien. K ulturdenkm ler eines unbekannten
Landes aus 2200 Jahren (Marburg, 1985).
Komech, A. I., D revnerusskoe zodchestvo kontsa Xnachala XII veka (Moscow, 1987).
Krautheimer, R., Early Christian and Byzantine A rchitec
ture (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1986).
Lange, D., Theorien zur Entstehung der byzantinischen
Kreuzkuppelkirche, A rchitectura 16 (1986): 93-113.
Magdalino, P., Observations on the Nea Ekklesia of Basil
I, JB 37 (1987): 51-64.
Mango, C., Byzantine A rchitecture (New York, 1976).
-., The Monastery of St. Abercius at Kurunlu (Elegmi)
Bithynia, DOP 22 (1964): 169-176.

Selected Bibliography

104
Mango, C. and Hawkins, E. J. W., Additional Finds at Fenari Isa Camii, DOP 22 (1968) 177-185.
Mathews, F. T., Liturgy in Byzantine Architecture:
Toward a Re-apprisal, CA 30 (1982): 125-138.
-., The Byzantine C hurches o f Istanbul: A P hotographic
S urvey (University Park, PA, 1976).
-., The Early C hurches o f Constantinople. A rchitecture
and Liturgy (University Park, PA, 1971).
Mathews, F. T. and Hawkins, E. J. W., Notes on the Attik
Mustafa Pasa Camii in Istanbul and Its Frescoes, DOP
39 (1985): 125-134.
Megaw, A. H. S., Byzantine Architecture and Decoration
in Cyprus: Metropolitan or Provincial?, DOP 28
(1974): 59-88.
-., Byzantine Reticulate Revetments, in: Charisterion
eis A. K O rlandon, Vol. 3 (Athens, 1966), pp. 10-22.
-., The Original Form of the Theotokos Church of Con
stantine Lips, DOP 18 (1964): 253-280.
Megaw, A. H. S., and Hawkins, E. J. W., The Church
of the Holy Apostoles at Perachorio, Cyprus, and Its
Frescoes, DOP 16 (1962): 313.
Miiatev, K., Arkhitekturata v srednovek ovna Bulgaria
(Sofia 1965).
Millet, G., Lancient art Serbe. Les glises (Paris, 1919).
-., Lcole grecq u e dans larchitecture byzantine (Paris,
1916).
Mindrinos, M. E., Die K irche von Episkopi a u f Santorini
(Athens, 1989).
Mylonas, P., The Complex of St. Luke of Stiris, Archaeologia 36 (1990): 6-30.
-., Gavits Armeniens et Litae Byzantines, CA 38 (1990):
101-119.
Nenadovic, S., B ogorodica Ljeviska. N jenpostanak i njeno
m esto u arhitekturi M ilutinovog vrem en a (Belgrade,
1963).
Nikonanos, N., Byzantinoi Naoi ts Thessalias (Athens,
1979).
-., H Ekklsia ts Metamorphss tou Stros sto Chortiat, in: K ernos (Thessaloniki, 1972), pp. 102-110.
Orlandos, A. K., Palaiochristianika kai Byzantina
mnmeia Tegeas-Nykliou, ABME 12 (1973): 141-176.
-., To katholikon ts para tn Thessalonikn mons Peristern, ABME 7 (1951): 146-167.
-., Ho Ag. Dmtrios ts Varassovas, ABME 1 (1935):
105-120.
-., H Pantanassa ts Monembasias, ABME 1 (1935):
141-151.
Ousterhout, R. G., The A rchitecture o f the K ariye Camii
in Istanbul (Washington, 1987).
-., The Byzantine Church at Enez: Problems in TwelfthCentury Architecture, J B 35 (1985): 251-261.

Papageorgiou, A., The Narthex of the Churches of the


Middle Byzantine Period in Cyprus, in: H om m age
la m m oire de Charles D elvoye (Brussels, 1982),
pp. 437-449.
Petrov, K., Novi rezultati od istrauvanjata na crkvata
Sv. Pantelejmon vo Nerezi, G odisen zbornik 8 (1982):
153-189.
-., Kon neispitanata protoistorija na lokalitetot Sv. Pante
lejmon vo Nerezi, Godien zbornik 7 (1981): 153-189.
Popovi, D., Srpski vladarski grob u srednjem veku (Bel
grade, 1992).
Sinos, S., Die K losterkirche d er K osm osoteira in Bera
(Vira) (Munich, 1985).
Striker, C. L., The M yrelaion (Bodrum Camii) in Istanbul
(Princeton, 1981).
Striker, C. L. and Kuban Y. D. (eds.), K alenderhane Camii
in Istanbul. The Buildings, Their H istory, A rchitecture,
and D ecoration (Mainz, 1997).
Striker, C. L., and Kuban, Y. D., Work in Kalenderhane
Camii in Istanbul: Third and Fourth Preliminary Re
ports, DOP 25 (1971): 251 -259.
uput, M., Arhitektura Peke priprate, ZLU 13 (1997):
64-73.
Teteriatnikov, N., The L iturgical Planning o f Byzantine
Churches in Cappadocia (Rome, 1996).
Van Millingen, A., Byzantine C hurches in C onstantinople:
Their H istory and A rchitecture (London, 1912).
Velenis, G. M., Ermneia tou ex terikou diakosmou st n
Byzantin Architektonik (Thessaloniki, 1984).
Vocotopoulos, P. L., The Role of Constantinopolitan
Architecture during the Middle and Late Byzantine
Period, J B 31 (1981): 551-573.
-., The Concealed Course Technique. Further Examples
and a Few Remarks, J B 28 (1979): 241 -261.
-., H ekklsiastik architektonik eis t n dytik n sterean
Ellada kai tn Epeiron (Thessaloniki, 1975).
Vulovi, B., R avanica: njeno m esto i njena uloga u sakralnoj arhitekturi P om oravlja (Belgrade, 1966).
III. Painted D ecoration
Analov, D. V., Novy ikonograficheski obraz Khrista,
Seminarium K ondakovianum 2 (1928): 19-23.
Avner, T., The Impact of the Liturgy on Style and Con
tent, J B 32/5 (1982): 459-467.
Babi, G., Les moines-potes dans lglise de la Mre de
Dieu Studenica, in: Studenica i vizantijska um etnost
oko 1200. G odine (Belgrade, 1988), pp. 205-219.
-., Ikonografski program ivopisa u pripratama crkava
kralja Milutina, in: Vizantijska um etnost poetk om
XIV veka (Belgrade, 1978), pp. 105-126.

Selected Bibliography
-., Les Chapelles annexes des glises byzantines. Fonction
liturgique et program m es iconographiques (Paris, 1969).
-., Les discussions christologiques et le dcor des glises
byzantines au XII sicle, Frhm ittelalterliche Studien
2 (1968): 368-386.
Babi, G., Kora, V., and irkovi, S., Studenica (Belgrade,
1986).
Babi, G., and Walter, C., The Inscriptions upon Liturgi
cal Rolls in Byzantine Apse Decoration, REB 34
(1976): 269-280.
Bakalova, E., Bachkovskata Kostnica (Sofia, 1977).
Belting, H., The Im age and Its Public in the M iddle Ages.
Form and Function o f Early Paintings o f the Passion
(New Rochelle, NY, 1990).
-., An Image and Its Function in the Liturgy: The Man of
Sorrows in Byzantium, DOP 34/35 (1980-81): 1-17.
Borsook, E., M essages in Mosaic: the R oyal P rogram m es o f
Norman Sicily (1130-1187) (Oxford, 1990).
Brightman, F. E. (ed.), Liturgies Eastern and Western,
2 Vols. (Oxford, 1965).
Buckler, W. H., The Church of Asinou, Cyprus, and Its
Frescoes, A rchaeologia 83 (1933): 327-350.
Carr, A. W., The Thirteenth-Century Murals of Lysi,
Cyprus, in: A. W. Carr and L. J. Morrocco, A Byzan
tine M asterpiece R ecovered, the T hirteenth-C entury
Murals o f Lysi, Cyprus (Austin, 1991), pp. 15-115.
-., Illuminated Musical Manuscripts in Byzantium. A
Note on the Late Twelfth Century, Gesta 28/1 (1989):
41-53.
-., Byzantine Illum ination 1150-1250: The Study o f a
P rovincial Tradition (Chicago, 1987).
-., Gospel Frontispieces from the Comnenian Period,
Gesta 21/1 (1982): 3-20.
Chatzidakis, M. (ed.), Kastoria (Athens, 1985).
Chatzidakis-Bacharas, Th., Les peintures m urales de
Hosios Loukas: les chapelles occidentales (Athens, 1982).
Charalampidis, C., The Importance of the Threnos in the
Church of St. Panteleimon at Nerezi, C yrillom ethodianum 3 (1975): 149-162.
Christ, W., and Paranikas, M. (eds.), A nthologia Graeca
Carminum Christianorum (Hildesheim, 1963).
Connor, C. L., Art and M iracles in Byzantium (Princeton,
1991).

105
In flu en ce (XIX International Congress of Byzantine
Studies, Copenhagen, 1996), No. 5213.
Cutler, A., Under the Sign of the Deesis: On the Ques
tion of Representativeness in Medieval Art and Litera
ture, DOP 41 (1987): 145-154.
The Aristocratic Psalters in Byzantium (Paris, 1984).
Demus, O., The Mosaics o f San Marco in Venice, 2 Vols.
(Chicago, 1984).
-., Byzantine M osaic D ecoration (New York, 1976).
-., The Mosaics o f N orman Sicily (London, 1949).
Demus, O. and Diez, E., Byzantine Mosaics in G reece:
Hosios Lucas and Daphni (Cambridge, Mass., 1931).
Der Nersessian, S., Uillustration des psautiers grecs du
m oyen ge, 2 Vols. (Paris, 1970).
Derbes, A., Picturing the Passion in Late M edieval Italy:
N arrative Painting, Franciscan Ideologies, and the L ev
ant (Cambridge, 1996).
Dix, D. G., The Shape o f the Liturgy (New York, 1982).
Djordjevi, M. I., Die Sule und die Sulenheiligen als
Hellenistisches Erbe in der Byzantinischen und Serbis
chen Wandmalerei, J B (1982): 93-100.
Djuri, V., Vizantijske fresk e u Ju gosla viji (Belgrade, 1975).
-., La peinture murale byzantine XIIe et XIIIe sicle, in:
XV con grs, pp. 1-96.
Dufrenne, S., Lillustrations des psautiers grecs du m oyen ge (Paris, 1966).
Epstein, A., The Political Content of the Paintings of
Saint Sophia at Ohrid, J B 29 (1980): 319.
Evans, H. C. and Wixom, W. D. (eds.), The G lory o f
Byzantium. Art and Culture o f the M iddle Byzantine
Era A.D. 843-1261 (New York, 1997).
Follieri, H. (ed.), Initia H ym norum Ecclesiae G raecae,
6 Vols. (Vatican, 1961).
Franke, P., Marginalien zum Problem der Hetoimasie,
BZ 65/2 (1972): 375-378.
Frolow, A., and Millet, G., La pein tu re du m oyen ge en
Y ougoslavie, 3 Vols. (Paris, 1954).
Gerstel, S., B eholding the Sacred M ysteries: Program s o f
the Byzantine Sanctuary (Seattle, Wash., 1999).
Gkioles, N., O Byzantinos troullos kai to eikonographiko
tou program m a (Athens, 1990).

Cormack, R., Writing in G old (New York, 1985).

Grabar, A., Christian Icon ography: A Study o f Its O rigin


(Princeton, 1980).
-., Un rouleau liturgique constantinopolitain et ses pein
tures, DOP 8 (1954): 163-199.
-., La pein tu re religieuse en Bulgarie (Paris, 1928).

Constantoudaki-Kitromilides, M., Concordia Apostolorum: The Embrace of Saints Peter and Paul, A Paleologan Icon in Bologna, in: Byzantium. Identity, Im age

Grigoriadu, H., Affinits iconographiques de dcors


peints en Chypre et en Grce au XIIe sicle, in: Prak
tika 1972, pp. 37-41.

Constantinides, E. C. The Wall Paintings o f the Panagia


O lympiotissa at Elasson in N orthern Thessaly (Athens,
1992).

106
Hadermann-Misguich, L., Influence de miniatures Constantinopolitaines sur les peintures murales des SaintsAnargyres de Castoria et de Saint-Georges de
Kurbinovo, D iethnes Symposio. Byzantine Make do
ma 324-1430 m. Ch. (Thessaloniki, 1995).
-., Aspects de lambigut spatiale dans la peinture mon
umentale byzantine, Z ogra f 22 (1992): 5-13.
-., Fresques de Chypre et de Macdoine dans la se
conde moiti du XIIe sicle, in: Praktika 1972,
pp. 43-49.
-., K urbinovo. Les fresq u es de Saint-G eorges et la peintu re
byzantine due XIIe sicle (Brussels, 1975).
Hadermann-Misguich, L. and Grozdanov, C., K urbinovo
(Skopje, 1990).
Hamann-Mac Lean, R., G rundlegung zu einer G eschichte
der m ittelalterlichen M onum entalm alerei in Serbien
und M akedonien (Giessen, 1976).
Hamann-Mac Lean, R., and Hallensleben, H., Die M onu
m entalm alerei in Serbien und M akedonien vom 11. bis
zum fr h en 14. Jahrhundert (Giessen, 1963).
Hutter, I. (ed.), Das M arienhomiliar des M nchs Jakobos
von Kokkinobaphos: Codex vaticanus graecus 1162
(Zurich, 1991).
James, M. R., The Apocryphal N ew Testament (Oxford, 1966).
Kalavrezou-Maxeiner, I., B yzantine Icons in Steatite,
2 Vols. (Vienna, 1985).
Kessler, H. L., The Meeting of Peter and Paul in Rome.
An Emblematic Narrative of Spiritual Brotherhood,
DOP 41 (1987): 265-275.
Kitzinger, E., I m osaici d el period o norm anno in Sicilia,
Fase. 2. La Capella Palatina di Palerm o (Palermo, 1992).
-., Reflections of the Feast Cycle in Byzantine Art, CA
36 (1988): 51-73.
-., The Mosaics o f M onreale (Palermo, 1960).
Kreidl-Papadopoulos. K., Die W andmalereien des 11.Jahr
hunderts in der K irche Panagia tn Chalken in Thessa
loniki (Graz, 1966).
Lafontaine-Dosogne, J., Iconographie de Venfance de la
Vierge dans l em pire Byzantin et en O ccident, 2 Vols.
(Brussels, 1964).
Lazarev, V., Storia della pittura bizantina (Turin, 1967).
-., O ld Russian Murals and Mosaics: From the XI to the
XVI C enturies (London, 1966).
-., Mozaiki Sofi K ievskoi (Moscow, 1960).
-., Zhivopis X I-XII vekov v Makedonii, in: XVe con
grs (Belgrade, 1962), pp. 105-134.
Lidov, A. M., Khristos-sviashennik v ikonograficheskih
programmakh XI-XII vekov, VizVrem 55 (1994):
187-193.
-., Skhizma i vizantiskaia hramovaia dekoraciia, in: A.
M. Lidov (ed.), Vostochnokhristianski khram.
Liturgiia i iskusstvo (St. Petersburg, 1994), pp. 17-27.

Selected Bibliography
-., LImage du Christ-prlat dans le programme icono
graphique de Sainte Sophie dOhride, Arte Cristiana
79 (1991): 245-250.
-., Obraz Khrista-arkhiereia v ikonografichesko pro
gramme Sofii okhridskoi, Z ograf 17 (1987): 5-20.
Ljubinkovi-orovi, M., ivopis crkve svetoga Petra
kod Novog Pazara, Starinar 20 (1970): 35-49.
Maguire, H., The Icons o f Their Bodies. Saints and Their
Im ages in Byzantium (Princeton, 1996).
-., Disembodiment and Corporality in Byzantine Images
of the Saints, in: B. Cassidy (ed.), Icon ography at the
Crossroads (Princeton, 1993), pp. 75-90.
-., Style and Ideology in Byzantine Imperial Art, Gesta
28/2 (1989): 217-231.
-., The Art of Comparing in Byzantium, AB 70 (1988):
88-103.
-., Art and E loquence in Byzantium (Princeton, 1981).
-., The Iconography of Symeon with the Christ Child in
Byzantine Art, DOP 34/35 (1980-81): 261-271.
-., The Depiction of Sorrow in Middle Byzantine Art,
DOP 31 (1977): 123-175.
-., Truth and Convention in Byzantine Descriptions of
Works of Art, DOP 28 (1974): 111-141.
Male, E., La rsurrection de Lazare dans lart, La R evue
des arts 1 (1951): 44-52.
Malmquist, T., Byzantine 12th C entury Frescoes in Kasto
ria: Agioi A nargyroi and Agios Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi
(Uppsala, 1979).
Mango, C., The Monastery of St. John Chrysostomos
at Koutsovendis (Cyprus) and Its Wall Paintings,
DOP 44 (1990): 63-94.
-., The Date of the Narthex Mosaics of the Church of the
Dormition at Nicea, DOP 13 (1959): 245-252
Mango, C., Belting, H., and Mouriki, D., The Mosaics and
Frescoes o f St. Mary Pammakaristos (Fethiye Camii) at
Istanbul (Washington, D. C., 1978).
Mango, C., and Hawkins, E. J. W., The Hermitage of
St. Neophytus and Its Wall Paintings, DOP 20 (1966):
119-207.
Mark-Weiner, T., N arrative C ycles o f the Life o f St.
G eorge in Byzantine Art (Ph.D. Dissertation, New
York University, 1977).
Martin, J. R., The Dead Christ on the Cross in Byzantine
Art, in: K. Weitzmann (ed.), Late Classical and M edie
v a l Studies in H onor o f Albert Mathias Friend, J r
(Princeton, 1955), pp. 189-196.
-., The Illustration o f the H eavenly L adder o f Joh n Cli
m acus (Princeton, 1954).
Mathews, T., The Sequel to Nicea II in Byzantine Church
Decoration, in: Art and A rchitecture in Byzantium
and Armenia. L iturgical and Exegetical Approach,
No. 12. (Variorum, 1995).

Selected Bibliography
Megaw, A. H. S. and Hawkins, E. J. W., The Church of
the Holy Apostoles at Perachorio, Cyprus, and Its
Frescoes, DOP 16 (1962): 277-348.
Mercenier, R. P. F., La p rire des glises de rite Byzantin,
3 Vols. (Chevetogne, Belgium, 1940-1953).
Mesesnel, F., Kako da se sauva i obnovi crkva Sv. Pantelejmona iz 12. veka kod sela Nerezi?, GSND 2
(1929/30): 299-304.
Miljkovi-Pepek, P., Veljusa: Manastir Sv. B ogorodica
M ilostiva v o seloto Veljusa kraj Strumica (Skopje,
1981).
-., Kompleksot crkvi v o Vodoa (Skopje, 1975).
-., Prilozi prouavanju crkve manastira Nerezi, ZLU 10
(1974): 313-322.
-., Crkvata Sv. Konstantin od selo Svekani, in: Simpozium 1100. godisnina od smrtata na Kiril Solunski
(Skopje, 1970), pp. 150-180.
-., Jedna realistika osobina na freskama Nereza i Studenice, Z ograf 2 (1968): 4-5 .
-., N erezi (Belgrade, 1966).
Miljkovi-Pepek, P. and Koco, D., Manastir (Skopje, 1958).
Millet, G., M onum ents d e lAthos (Paris, 1927).
-., R echerches sur l iconographie de lva n gile aux XIVe,
XVey et XVIe sicles (Paris, 1916).
-., Recherches au Mount Athos, Bulletin de correspon
d en ce H ellnique 29 (1905): 72-98.
Mouriki, D., Four Thirteenth-Century Sinai Icons by the
Painter Peter, in: Studenica i vizantijska um etnost oko
1200. G odine (Belgrade, 1988).
-., The Mosaics o f Nea M oni on Chios (Athens, 1985).
-., Stylistic Trends in Monumental Paintings of Greece
during the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, DOP
34-35 (1980-81): 77-123.
-., The Portraits of Theodore Studites in Byzantine Art,
J B 20 (1971): 249-280.
Nelson, R. S., The Icon ography o f P reface and M iniature
in the B yzantine G ospel Book (New York, 1980).
Okunev, N., Les peintures de lglise de Nrz et leur
date, in: Actes du III e congrs international d tudes
byzantines (Athens, 1932), pp.247-248.
-., La dcouverte des anciennes fresques du monastre de
Nrz et leur date, Slavia 6 (1927): 603-609.
Pallas, D. I., Die Passion und Bestattung Christi in Byzanz:
D er Ritus-Das Bild (Munich, 1965).
Panayotidi, M., The Wall Paintings in the Church of the
Virgin Kosmosoteira at Ferai (Vira) and Stylistic Trends
in 12th Century Painting, B F 14/2 (1989): 459-484.
Pelekanides, S., and Chatzidakis, M., Kastoria (Athens,
1985).
Petkovi, V., Iconographic Similarities and Differences
Between Serbian and Greek Painting From the Middle
of the Fifteenth to the End of the Seventeenth Cen

107
turies, in: Euphrosynon: aphier ma ston M anol
Chatz dak (Athens, 1992), pp. 517-523.
Zidno slikarstvo Peke patrijarije, 1557-1614 (Novi
Sad, 1965).
Radoji, S., O dabrani lanci i studije 1933-1978 (Bel
grade, 1982).
-., Prilozi za istoriju najstarijeg ohridskog slikarstva,
ZRVI 8/2(1964): 347-354.
Rajkovi, M., Iz likovne problematike nereskog
ivopisa, ZRVI 3 (1955): 195-206.
Restle, M., Byzantine Wall Painting in Asia M inor, 3 Vols.
(Greenwich, Ct., 1968).
Sacopoulo, M., Asinou en 1106 et sa contribution liconographie (Brussels, 1966).
Shchepkina, M. V., Miniatury K hludovsk o Psaltyri
(Moscow, 1977).
Schiller, G., Icon ography o f Christian Art, 2 Vols, (trans
lated by J. Seligman) (Greenwich, Ct., 1971-1972).
evenko, N. P., Illustrated Manuscripts o f the M etaphrastian M enologion (Chicago, 1990).
-., The Tomb of Isaak Komnenos at Pherrai, The Greek
O rthodox T heological R eview 29 (1984): 135-140.
Shorr, D. C., The Iconographic Development of the Pre
sentation in the Temple, AB 28 (1946): 17-32.
Sinos, S., Die K losterkirche d er K osm osoteira in Bera
(Vira) (Munich, 1985).
Skawran, K. M., The D evelopm en t o f M iddle Byzantine
Fresco Painting in G reece (Pretoria, 1982).
Smirnova, E., Culte et image de St. Dmtre dans la prin
cipaut de Vladimir la fin du XIIe - dbut du XIIIe
sicle, in: D iethnes Symposio. Byzantin M akedonia
324-1430 m. Ch. (Thessaloniki, 1995), pp. 267-277.
Spirovski, S., Konzervatorski raboti na ivopisot vo
crkvata sveti Pantelejmon, selo Nerezi-Skopsko, K ul
turno nasledstvo 7 (1961): 107-113.
Stylianou, A. and Stylianou, J. A., The Painted C hurches
o f Cyprus (London, 1985).
Taft, R. F., The Great Entrance: A H istory o f the Transfer
o f Gifts and O ther Preanaphoral Rites o f the L iturgy o f
St. Joh n C hrysostom (Rome, 1978).
Tati-Djuri, M., Ikona Jovana Krilatog iz Deana,
Zbornik N arodnog M uzeja 7 (1973): 39-51.
Tomekovi, S., Contribution ltude du programme du
narthex des glises monastiques (XIe - premire moiti
du XIIIe s.), Byzantion 58 (1988): 140-154.
-., Les rpercussions du choix du saint patron sur le pro
gramme iconographique des glises du 12e sicle en
Macdoine et dans le Ploponnse, Z ograf 12 (1981):
25-43.

Selected Bibliography

108
Townsley, A. L., Eucharistic Doctrine and the Liturgy in
Late Byzantine Painting, OC 58 (1974): 138-153.

-., Hagios Chrysostomos, Trikomo, Asinou. Byzantine


Painters at Work, in: Praktika 1972, pp.285-291.

Tsigaridas, E., Oi toichographies ts M ons Latomou Thessaloniks kai Vyzantin zgraphik tou 12ou aina
(Thessaloniki, 1986).

Xyngopoulos, A., Thessalonique et la pein tu re m acdoni


en n e (Athens, 1975).

Tsitouridou, A., H Panagia tn Chalken (Thessaloniki,


1975).

III. Sculpture

Underwood, P., The K ariye Djami 3 Vols. (New York,


1966).
Vassilaki, M., A Cretan Icon in the Ashmolean: The Em
brace of Peter and Paul, J B 40 (1990): 405-422.
Velmans, T., Rayonnement de licone au XIIe et au dbut
du XIIIe sicle, in: XVe con grs, pp. 195-227.
-., Le dimanche de tous saints et licone expose
Charleroi, Byzantion 53 (1983): 17-35.
Walter, C., Art and Ritual o f the Byzantine Church (Lon
don, 1982).
-., Further Notes on the Deesis, REB 28 (1970):
161-187.
-., Two Notes on the Deesis, REB 26 (1968): 311-336.
Weitzmann, K., Byzantine L iturgical Psalters and Gospels
(London, 1980).
-., The M iniatures o f the Sacra Parallela, Parisinus Graecus 923 (Princeton, 1979).
-., Illustrations of Five Martyrs of Sebaste, DOP 33
(1979): 99-111.
-., The Icon. H oly Im ages: Sixth to Fourteenth C entury
(London, 1978).
-., The M onastery o f Saint C atherine at M ount Sinai: The
Icons, I. From the Sixth to the Tenth C entury (Prince
ton, 1976).
-., Byzantium and the West Around the Year 1200, in:
The Year 1200: A Symposium (New York, 1975),
pp. 53-93.
-., The Selection of Texts for Cyclic Illustration in
Byzantine Manuscripts, in: Byzantine Books and
Bookm en (Washington, 1975), pp. 69-109.
-., Loca Sancta and the Representational Arts of Pales
tine, DOP 28 (1974): 31-55.
-., The Origin of the Threnos, in: M. Meiss (ed.), Essays
in H onor o f Erwin Panofsky (New York, 1961),
pp.476-491.
Wetzmann, K. and Galavaris, G., The M onastery o f St.
C atherine on M ount Sinai: The Illum inated Greek
Manuscripts (Princeton, 1991).
Wellesz, E., A H istory o f Byzantine Music and H ym no
graphy (Oxford, 1961).

Babi, G., O ivopisanom ukrasu oltarskih pregrada,


ZLU ll (1975): 3-45.
Belting, H., Zur Skulptur aus der Zeit um 1300 in Kon
stantinopel, M nchner Jahrbuch d er bildenden Kunst
23 (1972): 70-73.
Bokovi, G., La restauration rcente de liconastase
lglise de Nerezi, Seminarium K ondakovianum 6
(1933): 157-159.
-., Arhitektonski izvetaji. Obnova ikonostasa u Nerezima, GSND ll (1932): 221-223.
Bouras, L., Architectural Sculptures of the Twelfth and
Early Thirteenth Centuries in Greece, D eltion 9
(1977): 59-66.
Buchwald, H., The Craved Stone Ornament of the High
Middle Ages in San Marco, V enice, Jahrbuch der ster
reichischen byzantinischen G esellschaft 13 (1964):
137-170.
-., The Carved Stone Ornament of the High Middle Ages
in San Marco, Venice, Jahrbuch der sterreichischen
byzantinischen G esellschaft 11/12 (1962/63): 169-211.
Chatzidakis, M., Lvolution de licone aux 11e -13e si
cles et la transformation du templon, in: XVe con grs,
pp. 159-191.
Cicimov, A., Mermernata oltarska pregrada vo crkvata
Sv. etirieset sevastiski maenici vo Bansko, in:
Zbornik na trudovi. Z avod za zatita na spom enici na
kulturata, prirodnite retkosti i m uzej - Strumica (Strumica, 1989).
Epstein, A. W., The Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier:
Templon or Iconostasis?, Jou rn al o f the British Ar
cha eological Association 134 (1981): 1-28.
Grabar, A., Sculptures byzantines du m oyen ge (Paris,
1976).
-., Deux notes sur lhistoire de liconostase daprs des
monuments de Yugolslavie, ZRVI7 (1961): 13-23.
Harrison, R. M., A Constantinopolitan Capital in
Barcelona, DOP 27 (1973): 297-300.
Hjort, ., The Sculpture of the Kariye Camii, DOP 33
(1979): 199-289.

Wharton, A. J., Art o f Empire. Painting and A rchitecture


o f the Byzantine Periphery. A C om parative Study o f
Four P rovinces (University Park, PA, 1988).

Macridy, T., The Monastery of Lips and the Burials of


Palaeologi, DOP 18 (1964): 249-279.

Winfield, D., Proportions and Structure o f the Human


Figure in Byzantine Wall-Painting and M osaic (Ox
ford, 1982).

Mango, C., On the History of Templon and the Martyrion of St. Artemios at Constantinople, Z ograf 10
(1979): 40-44.

Selected Bibliography
Moutsopoulos, N. K, Ekklesies ts Kastorias 9 o s -11os
ainas (Thessaloniki, 1992).
Nikolajevi-Stojkovi, I., Prilog prouavanju vizantiske
skulpture od 10-12 veka iz Makedonije i Srbije, ZRVI
44(1955): 182-194.
-., Jonski impost-kapiteli iz Makedonije i Srbije, ZRVI
21 (1952): 169-179.
Oates, D., A Summary Report on the Excavations of the
Byzantine Institute in the Kariye Camii, 1957-1958,
DOP 14 (1960): 223-231.
Okunev, N., Altarnaia pregrada XII vieka v Nerezie,
Seminarium K ondakovianum 3 (1929): 5-23.
Peschlow, U., Architectural Sculpture, in: C. L. Striker
and Y. D. Kuban (eds.), K alenderhane in Istanbul The
Buildings, Their H istory, A rchitecture, and D ecoration
(Mainz, 1997), pp. 101-111.
Pazaras, Th., A naglyphes sarkophagoi kai epitaphies plakes
ts m ess kai ysters Byzantins period ou st n Ellada
(Athens, 1988).
-., Ho glyptos diakosmos tou palaiou katholikou tes
Mons Xenophntos sto Hagion Horos, D eltion 14
(1987-88): 33-48.

109
Petrov K., Kon neispitana protoistorijata na lokalitetot
Sv. Pantelejmon vo Nerezi, Godien zbornik na Filozofskiot fak ultet 33 (1981): 172-186.
-., Dekorativna plastika vo Makedonija vo XI i XII vek,
Godien zbornik na Filozofskiot fak ultet 12 (1962):
161-168.
Radoji, M., Starine crk ven og m uzeja u Skoplju (Skopje,
1941).
Walter, C., The Origins of Iconostasis, in: Studies in
Iconography (London, 1997), No. 3.
-., A New Look at the Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier,
REB 51 (1993): 203-228.
Weitzmann, K., An Ivory Plaque with Two of the Fourty
Martyrs of Sebaste in the Glencairn Museum, Bryn
Athyn, PA, in: Euphrosynon aphier ma ston M anol
Chatz dak (Athens, 1992), pp.704-712.
-., Ivories and Steatites. C atalogue o f Byzantine and Early
M edieval Antiquities in the D um barton Oaks C ollec
tion (Washington, 1972).
-., Diptikh slonovo kosti iz Ermitrazha, otnosiashchisia k
krugu imperatora Romana, VizVrem 32 (1971): 142-156.
-., Die byzantinischen Elfenbeine eines Bamberger
Graduale und ihre ursprngliche Verwendung, in:
Festschrift f r K. H. Usner (Marburg, 1967).

INDEX

General Index
Adrian-John Komnenos, archbishop of Ohrid, 8, 10
Alexios I Komnenos, emperor, 2 n. 3, 4, 5, 10, 25; in
Skopje, 7
Alexios II Komnenos, emperor, 2 n. 3
Alexios III Angelos, emperor, 8
Alexios Angelos Komnenos: at Council of 1166, 9, 33;
family of, 4 -5 ; and painted decoration of the naos, 58;
as patron of Nerezi, 1, 3 , 28, 47,65, 67, 70-71, 72, 73, 85,
94, 95, 99, 100, 101; relatives in Macedonia, 8; and Em
peror Manuel I Komnenos, 35, 65, 74
anathemas, 39
Andrew, saint, apostle, cult in Macedonia, 34, 100
Andrew of Crete, saint, 38
Andronikos Angelos, son of Konstantine Angelos, 5
Andronikos II Palaiologos, emperor, 95-96
Andros, Mesaria, church of the Taxiarches, 89
Ani, Holy Apostles church, 24-25, 26
Apollonia, church of the Virgin, irregular layout, 11 n. 1
architecture (Nerezi), 2, 3 , 100,101; exterior, 11, 19-23; ir
regular layout, 11 and n. 1; see also bema, cupolas, naos,
narthex, restorations, sanctuary
architecture, churches: cross-in-square, 24, 25, 26; cruci
form, 11, 12, 13, 15,16, 22, 26, 29; five-domed, 3, 11, 21,
23-24, 25, 26, 2 7 -2 8 , 100
arcosolium, 16, 17, 18, 73
aristocracy, Byzantine, 9
Artemios, Martyrion of St., 92
artists of Nerezi, 3, 76, 81-82, 100; sixteenth century, 97
Asinou, church of the Panagia Phorbiotissa, 33 n. 33, 73,
77; Last Judgment, 57; Virgin with Christ Child, 57
Athanasia, convent of St., 26
Athens: church of the Holy Apostles, 16, 18, 89; National
Library, cod. 7 (Psalter), 33
Athos, Mount: Chilandar monastery, 95, 96; Great Lavra,
16, 17, 72, 89; Pantokrator, cod. 61, 70; Protaton
monastery, 50, 91
Aulis, church of St. Nicholas, 12, 16
Azyme Controversy of 1054, 37
Babi, G., 92
Bakovo, Ossuary church, 32, 55, 84
Balkan peninsula, 5 -6
Bansko, church of the Forty martyrs of Sebaste, 89, 90
baptismal fonts, 17, 18
Basil II (Bulgaroctonus), emperor, 5, 72
Belaica, Mount, battle of, 5
Belgrade, 7
bema, 11, 14; exterior, 20; fusion of the bema bay with east
ern arm of cross, 14, 15; repainted in sixteenth century,
30

bema, major scenes and images: Bishops Officiating, 30,


35, 36, 39, 45, 74; Communion of the Apostles, 30-32,
35, 39, 45, 47, 74; Hetoimasia, 36, 37 n. 56, 39, 74;
St.John the Theologian, 80; Kiss of the Apostles, 30,
32-35, 39, 47, 74; Virgin with Christ Child, 30, 39
benediction of water, 16, 17, 18, 19, 27, 71
Berlin, Staatliche Sammlungen, 88
Black Sea, 6
Bogomils, 37-38
Bulgaria, 8; church of Sedam Prestola, 12, 13; theme, 7, 10
Calabria, churches in, see Stilo, Rossano
Capelli, G., 26
Cappadocia, churches of, 17; anli Kilise, 42; Kililar
Kilise, 91
Cefal, 60, 77, 78
ceramoplastic jugs, 21
chancel, see iconostasis
chapel, north-east, see prothesis
chapel, north-west, 17; tomb, 16, 58, 67, 73-74
chapel, north-west, major scenes and images: Five Martyrs
of Armenia, 71, 72, 73; St. Blasios, 73; St. Mamas, 73;
St. Menas, 72-73, 82; St.Tryphon, 73, 80; St.Vikentios,
72-73; St. Viktor, 72-73
chapel, south-east, see diakonikon
chapel, south-west: function, 18 n.48, 71; pit (pithos),
16, 17
chapels, 19,28; exterior, 20, 21, 26; function, 16,17,26; seg
regation of, 16, 17; types, 16 n. 36
chapel, south-west, major scenes and images: martyrs, 82
Chatzidakis, M., 92, 93
Chernigov: Spaso-Preobrazhenskii Sabor, 24, 25, 26;
Transfiguration church, 22; Yeletsky monastery, cathe
dral of the Assumption, 16, 17, 89
Cherubicon prayer and hymn, 38, 42
Chios, Nea Moni, 19, 22, 49, 60 n. 205, 72, 78
Chludov Psalter, see Moscow, State Historical Museum
Chortiatis, church of the Transfiguration, 22, 23, 28, 81,
83-84, 89, 90
church councils, 37-39, 44, 50, 53, 58, 65, 67, 74; Acts of,
38; Council of Chalcedon, 64; Council of 1143, 38;
Council of 1156/57, 37, 38-39, 42, 43, 50; Council of
1166, 4, 8, 9, 33, 37; and Eucharist, 37-39; and heretical
attacks, 37-38; and sacrifice of Christ, 37-38
church fathers, 38, 75; see also individual saints
Clement of Ohrid, saint, 34, 46
colonnettes, brick, 21
Communion of the Apostles: biblical account, 31-32; his
tory, 31; liturgical character, 31-32; sixteenth-century
apostles, 30-31; symbolic meaning, 31
Constantine IX Monomachos, emperor, 24
Constantine, patriarch of Kiev, 37

111

Index
Constantine of Rhodes, 57 n. 191
Constantinople, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 100; Atik Mustafa Pasa
Camii, 15, 22; Blachernai palace, 37; Bodrum Camii, 12
n. 11, 22; St. Demetrios monastery, 10; Eski Imaret
Camii, 22; Evergetis monastery, 58; Fenari Isa Camii,
12 n. 11; St. George Mangana, 24; Gl Camii, 12 n. 4 , 3;
Hagia Sophia, 80, 88, 92; church of the Holy Apostles,
27, 57 n. 191; Kalenderhane Camii, 12 n .4 , 13,15, 22, 23,
91; Kariye Camii, 12 n .4 , 13,17,18, 88; Lips monastery,
18, 24, 91; Nea Ekklesia of Basil I, 24, 27; Pantokrator
monastery, 18, 22, 88, 91, 92; Stoudios monastery, 62,
64, 65; church of Theotokos Pammakaristos (Fethiye
Camii), 17, 88, 91, 92
Constantinople, patriarchate of, 96; Patriarchal school, 38
Corinth, 6
cupola, central, 11, 19,22, 25, 26, 27,44; architectural form,
28; building technique, 23; and liturgy, 44; and Middle
Byzantine domes, 23; painted decoration, 39; recon
struction of the painted program, 43; repainted in six
teenth century, 98
cupolas, subsidiary, 11, 14,19-20, 25, 26; origin of iconog
raphy, 43; spatial articulation, 27
cupolas, subsidiary, major scenes and images: Ancient of
Days, 39, 40-41, 42, 45, 47; Angels, 39-40; ChristPriest, 39, 41, 71; Emmanuel, 39, 40, 41, 42, 47; Pan
tokrator, 39, 40, 41, 42, 71
cupolas, symbolic significance of, 23
uri, S., 25
Cyprus: Kykko monastery, 10; Ritual Ordinance of
St.Neophytos, 18; Typicon of St.Johns monastery,
Koutsovendis, 18; Typicon of Makhaeras monastery,
18; see also Asinou, Koutsovendis, Lagoudera
Cyril of Alexandria, saint, 38
Cyril of Jerusalem, saint, 38
Danube, 6
Daphni monastery, 19, 72, 78
Deani, church of Christ the Pantokrator, 19; Nemanji
Dynastic Tree, 19
Demangel, R., 24
diakonikon, 11, 14, 24
diakonikon, major scenes and images: bishops, 44, 45;
St. Damianos, 46, 80; holy physicians, 45, 47, 72; St.
John, physician saint, 46; St.John the Baptist, 44, 4546, 47; St. Kosmas, 46, 80; St. Kyros, 46; St. Sampson,
46, 80
dog-tooth frieze, 21
domes, see cupolas
Dubravica, village, 96
Duan, tzar, 7
Dyrrachium, 5
earthquakes and reconstructions, 20, 28, 29, 39, 97, 98; see
also restorations
Elasson, church of the Panagia Olympiotissa, 50, 75
Elis, Manolada Palaiopanagia church, 12
Ephesos, St.John the Theologian church, 27
Epirus, 6

episkepsis, 10
Episkopi, Ano Voulou, church of the Panagia, 89
epistyle beams, 92
Epstein, A., 92, 93
Eucharist, 37, 38-39
Filioque question, 33 n. 28
fonts, baptismal, 18
Formis, church of Sant Angelo, 70
foundations: aristocratic, 9; provincial, 10
Frederick Barbarossa, 6
funerary rites, 16, 17, 18, 19, 71
George of Nikomedeia, 49 n. 134, 51
George Palaiologos, military commander and diplomat,
9-10
George Pakourianos, grand domestic, 10
George Vojteh, 7
Gerasim, Chilandar monk, 96
Germanus I, patriarch of Constantinople, 75
Gorno Nerezi, village, 8
Graanica, 27, 98
Great Entrance, 36
Greece, 5, 6
heretical attacks, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
37-38
Holy Land, monasteries, 10
Holy Spirit, 38
Holy Trinity, 38, 39, 41, 64, 74
Homilies of James Kokkinobaphos, 66, 78, 81
Hugo Etherien, 33
Hungary, 6
Hymettos: St.John the Theologian church, 15; Kaiseriani
monastery, 15
hypostatic union, 9
iconostasis, 3 , 14,15,46, 47, 86, 90; architrave, 11, 87, 90,92,
94; colonnettes, 11, 87-88, 90, 93-94; door posts, 87;
icons, 91, 92, 93; intercolumnar spaces, 11, 92, 93; para
pet panels from Bansko, 90; parapet slabs, 87, 94; re
construction of, 87
icons: hanging, painted on the walls, 45; proskynetaria, see
proskynetaria icons
Idrisi, Arabian geographer, 7-8
inscription, dedicatory (Nerezi), 2 n. 3, 4, 28, 101
intercession, theme of, 46, 47, 58, 60, 66, 67, 71, 73
Ioannikios, hegoumenos, 4
Ionic capital, 86
Isaak Angelos, son of Konstantine Angelos, 5
Isaak II Angelos, emperor, 95
Isaak Komnenos, son of Emperor Alexios I, 10, 25
Istria, 6
Ivan Asen II, Bulgarian tzar, 95
Ivanov, I., 2 n. 3
Jerusalem, Greek Patriarchal Library: cod. Sabas 208, 70
(Menologion); cod. Staurou 109, 42, 50 n. 143; cod.
Taphou 14, 41 n. 80

112
John II Komnenos, emperor, 5
John III Doukas Vatatzes, Nicean emperor, 95
John Angelos, son of Konstantine Angelos, 5, 8
John Chrysostom, saint, 38
John Dalassenos Rogerios, brother-in-law of Manuel I
Komnenos, 8
John of Damascus, saint, 38-39
John Renier, son-in-law of Manuel I Komnenos, 9
John the Climacus, 71
Kale, Krupite, church at, 12, 16
Kalojan I, Bulgarian tzar, 95
Kalyvia, church of St. Peter, 18
Kastoria, 9; Hagioi Anargyroi, 19, 41 n. 80, 55, 56 n. 178,
70, 90; Koumbelidiki, 23; Mavriotissa church, 19; Hagios Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi, 18,23, 41 n. 80, 56 n. 178, 57,
60, 81, 82, 90, 91; church of St. Stephen, 19, 43, 78; Taxiarches, 23
Katlanovo lake, 96
Kiev: church of Archangel Michael, 32 n. 14; Desiatinnaia
church, 22; Gate church, Holy Trinity Monastery of
the Caves, 17; church of St. Sophia, 17, 22, 32 n. 14, 41,
43, 89
Kithairon, Mount, katholikon of St. Meletios monastery,
irregular layout, 11 n. 1
Koloman Asen, Bulgarian tzar, 95
Kondakov, N. P., 2 n. 3
Konstantine Angelos, father of Alexios Angelos Kom
nenos, 4, 5
Konstantine Asen, tzar, charter issued to the monastery of
St. George-Gorgos, 95
Konstantine Tich, Bulgarian tzar, 95
Koriton, 8 n. 43
Kosine (Epirus), church of the Virgin, 12, 16
Koutsovendis, monastery of St.John Chrysostom, 36,
51
Krautheimer, R., 15
Kula, Petriko, church at, 12
Kurbinovo, church of St. George, 23, 34, 53, 55, 56 n. 178,
57, 79, 81, 84, 91, 92
Kurumlija, St. Nicholas church, 13, 22, 23
Kurunlu (Elegmi), St. Abercius monastery church, 13
Lagoudera, church of the Panagia Arakiotissa, 42, 50, 73,
79, 81, 92, 93
Lazarev, V., 92
Ligourio, church of St.John the Theologian, 15
Linus, saint, apostle, 34
liturgy, in central cupola, 44
Luke, saint, apostle, cult in Macedonia, 34, 100
Luke Chrysoberg, patriarch of Constantinople, 34
Macedonia, 1- 4 , 23, 28, 74, 101; church architecture in, 12,
23, 26; cult of St. Andrew and St. Luke, 34, 100; iconos
tases in, 90, 94; influence of Nerezi on later monuments
in, 35; painting tradition in, 32, 81, 82, 84; residence of
Manuel I Komnenos, 6; sculpture preserved in, 89;
strategic importance of, 5 -7, 9 , 100; theme, 6 n. 24

Index
Macedonian Orthodox church, 96
Maguire, H., 57
Mamboury, E., 24
Manastir, church of St. Nicholas, 32, 35
Mango, C., 92
Mani, Hagios Stratigos church, 19
Manuel I Komnenos, 2 n. 3, 5, 33, 47, 52, 95, 100; bride of,
7; in Macedonia, 6; patron of provincial foundations, 8,
10; role in church affairs and councils, 9, 37; and union
of the churches, 35
Manuel Boutoumites, general, 10
Markovi, V., 2 n. 3
Maximus the Confessor, saint, 38
meander pattern, 21
Megara, church of Hosios Meletios, 89
Megaw, A. H. S., 18, 22
Mesesnel, E, 15, 99
Messenia, monastery of the Savior, 58
Michael IV Paphlagon, emperor, 70
Michael VIII Palaiologos, emperor, 95
Michael Psellos, 70
Michael the Rhetor, 38
Mikra Prespa, sarcophagus panels, 89
Miljkovi-Pepek, P., 82
Milutin, Serbian king, 8 n. 45, 96; charter for monastery of
St. George-Gorgos, 95-96
Monemvasia: church of Geroumena, 25; church of the
Pantanassa, 25-26
Monreale, 33 n. 32, 42, 53, 77
Moraca, 98
Mordoviz, church at, 12, 16
Moscow, church of St. Michael, 27
Moscow, State Historical Museum: cod. gr. 9 (Menolo
gion), 70; cod. gr. 129 (Chludov Psalter), 41, 42 n. 90
Moscow, Tretiakov Gallery: Annunciation icon, 81; Virgin
of Vladimir icon, 54, 81
Naissus, 7
naos, 16; proportions, 12, 13; segregation of, 11, 12, 13; Tshaped, 11 n.2, 13, 16
naos, major scenes and images: Annunciation, 47-48;
Christological cycle, 47, 58; Deposition, 48, 53-54, 74,
77, 78, 79, 82, 83; Entry into Jerusalem, 54-55, 77,
79; holy monks, 60-61, 66; holy physicians, 66; holy
poets (hymnographers), 61-65, 74, 75; holy warriors,
80; Nativity of the Virgin, 79, 83; St.Panteleimon,
46, 47, 66, 74, 80, 82, 83; Presentation of Christ in the
Temple, 48-50, 52, 53, 60-61, 74, 77, 80; Resurrec
tion of Lazarus, 54-55; saints, categories of, 58-59;
Threnos, 48, 50-53, 54, 61, 65, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 83;
Transfiguration, 53, 54, 79, 82; warrior saints, 59-60,
66
narthex, 11; exterior, 21; function, 18, 19; in Palaiologan
monuments, 19; reconstruction, 20; twin-domed, 19;
U-shaped, 15-16
narthex, major scenes and images: Deesis, 67, 71; St.Pan
teleimon, 67, 68-71; St. Symeon the Stylite, 71
Naum of Ohrid, saint, 34

Index
Neilos of Rossano, saint, Vitae, 26
Nereditsa, church of, 41, 77
Nicea, church of the Koimesis, 91
Nicholas Cabasilas, 64, 75
Nicholas Mesarites, 57 n. 191
Nicholas of Methone, bishop, 38 n. 68
Nikephoras Basilakes, 38
Niketas Choniates, 5, 6
Ohrid, 5, 7; Annunciation icon, 81; archbishopric of, 7, 8,
10, 96, 99 n. 41; church of St.John at Kaneo, 32; church
of St. Sophia, 34, 43, 46, 56 n. 181, 90; church of the Vir
gin Peribleptos, 34
Okunev, Nikolas, 29, 86, 87, 97
Ostrogorski, G., 2 n. 3
Ouspensky, F., 92
painted decoration (Nerezi), 2 -3 , 100, 101; church coun
cils reflected in the bema, 39; compositional unity, 77,
78; juxtaposition of images and scenes, 30,47,50, 52, 54,
55, 56-57, 58,69, 71, 73, 74, 75, 80; relationship with ar
chitecture, 23, 29, 45, 47, 48, 53, 54, 56, 58, 74; style and
iconography, 76, 77; thematic unity, 30, 47, 56
Palaiologan monuments, 19, 25, 27, 44, 74; art, 43, 98; see
also individual churches
Palermo: Capella Palatina, 33 n.32, 77, 78; Martorana
(St. Marys of the Admiral), 18, 57, 77
Palestine, St. Sabas monastery, 62, 63 n. 227, 64, 65
pannychis, 17, 18
pansebastohypertatos, 5
Panteleimon, saint, 4, 96
Paphos, monastery of St.Neophytos, 53, 84, 93
Paris, Bibliothque Nationale: gr. 923 (Sacra Parallela), 41
n. 80; gr. 1208 (Homilies of James Kokkinobaphos), 78,
81
Passion of Christ, theme of, 51, 53, 56, 57-58, 64, 67, 69,
70, 73, 74, 75, 98
pastophoria, 19, 25, 27; exterior, 20; see also diakonikon,
prothesis
Pe, patriarchate of, 96, 98
Pelagonia, 6-7
Peloponnesos, 6
Perachorio, church of the Holy Apostles, 32 n. 14, 33 n. 33
Peristerai, church of St. Andrew, 23, 34
Petar Deljan, 7
Petrov, K., 15
Pherrai, church of the Virgin Kosmosoteira, 10, 23, 25, 26,
36 n. 51, 43, 80, 84
Philadelphia, church of the Theotokos tes Koteines, 93
Philippopolis, Theotokos Petritziotissa monastery, 10
Phocis, Hosios Loukas monastery, 72, 78; church of the
Theotokos (Panagia), 91; Theotokos church, irregular
layout, 11 n. 1; katholikon, 17-18
Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, 34 n. 34
pit (pithos), 16, 17
pithos, see pit
Porta Pili, church of St. Nicholas, 89
Preslav, church at Vinica, irregular layout, 11 n. 1

113
Prizren, church of the Virgin Ljevika, 75
proskynetaria icons, 46, 47, 48, 87, 92, 93; frames, 59, 88
n. 13; selection of proskynetaria images, 91
prothesis, 11, 14, 24
prothesis, major scenes and images: St. Antipas of Pergamos, 44, 45 n. 110; bishops, 44, 45, 47; St. Eleutherios,
44, 45 n. 110; St. Modestos, 44, 45 n. 110; St. Parthenios
of Lampsacos, 44-45, 45 n. 110; St.Polycarpos of
Smyrna, 45 n. 111; St. Spyridon, 44; Virgin, 44,45,46,47,
79
Pskov, 77
Raka, 7
recessed-brick technique, 21, 22, 23, 28
renaissance, Medieval, 57
restorations (Nerezi), 1, 3; of architecture, 20,21,28, 97; of
painting, 3 39, 97-98
Roman funerary stele, 15, 86
Romanos III Argyros, emperor, 95, 96
Rome, church of St. Crisogono, 70
Rome, Vatican Library: Urb. gr.2 (Gospels), 78, 84; Vat.
gr. 1156 (Gospel Lectionary), 51; Vat. gr. 1162 (Homilies
of James Kokkinobaphos), 66, 78, 81
Rossano, church of San Marco, 25, 26
Samari, Peloponnesos, 91
Samuel, Bulgarian tzar (976-1014), 7, 34
sanctuary, 11, 14,19; of eleventh-century churches, 43; fu
sion of the bema bay with eastern arm of cross, 14, 15;
painted decoration, 30, 36, 44, 82; see also bema, proth
esis, diakonikon
Sardis, Church E, 27
Sava, saint, 8 n. 45
Schism of 1054, 33, 42
sculptors of Nerezi, 3, 94, 100
Sedam Prestola (Bulgaria), church of, 12, 13
Serbia, 6
Serres, church of Metropolis, 89; sarcophagus panels, 89
Sinai, Mount, St.Catherines monastery: cod. 339 (Homi
lies of Gregory of Nazianzus), 78, 84; epistyle beams,
92; icon with hagiographic cycle of St. Panteleimon, 70
Skopje, Archaeological Museum, 86, 87
Skopje, eparchy of: St. George-Gorgos monastery, 8, 10,
95-96; church of St. Michael, 8; church of the ThreeHanded Virgin, 8; White Tower, 90
Skopje, eparchy of, political and economic history, 7-8,
95-96, 99; theme, 7, 8 n.43; Turkish conquest, 96
Skripou, church of the Virgin, 22
Snegarov, I., 2 n. 3
Sofia, Bulgarian National Library, 96
Sophronius, Pseudo-, 75
Soterichos Panteugenes, 38
Staraya Ladoga, church of St. George, 79, 84
Stari Ras, church of Djurdjevi Stupovi, 84
Stefan Nemanja, grand upan, 95
Stilo, Catholica, 23, 25, 26
Strumica, 8
stucco, 87, 88

114
Studenica: Kings church, 50; church of the Virgin, 75, 98
style (Nerezi), see u nder painted decoration
Suzdal, cathedral, 27
Svekani, church of St. Constantine, 32, 35
Synodikon of Orthodoxy, 39, 43, 53
Tegea, Palaea Episkopi, 25, 26
templon, see iconostasis, 14
Theodora, mother of Alexios Angelos Komnenos, 2 n. 3,
4,
5
Theodore Angelos Doukas Komnenos, ruler of Epiros, 95
Theodore Metochites, 17
Theodore of Mopsuestia, 75
Thessaloniki, 5, 100; church of St. Demetrios, 90, 92;
church of St. George, Rotunda, 89; church of the Holy
Apostles, 27, 57; church of Hosios David, 13, 15, 81,
83-84; Panagia ton Chalkeon, 18, 19, 22, 25, 28, 46;
theme, 7, 9
Thrace, 5
Timothy, saint, apostle, 34
Torcello, Cathedral, 89
Trisagion, 64, 97
Turkish conquest, 96, 99 n.41
Typicon, 18; of Backovo monastery, 93; of Evergetis
monastery, Constantinople, 58; of Irene (1027), 18; of
the monastery of the Savior, Messenia, 58; of Pantokra
tor monastery, Constantinople, 91, 93

Index
unity, ecumenical, 33, 34-35
Uro I, Serbian tzar, 95
Varassova, St. Demetrios church, 12, 13, 16
Vardar river, 8
Veljusa, church of the Virgin Eleousa, 10, 23, 28, 36, 43, 56
n. 181, 81, 82, 89, 90
Velmans, T., 92
Venetian merchants, 8
Venice, San Marco, 88
Veroia: Christos church, 75; church of St.John the The
ologian, 32, 34, 35; church of St. Nicholas, sarcophagus
panels, 89
Via Egnatia, 5, 6, 7
Vladimir, Uspenskii Sabor, 24, 25
Vocotopoulos, P. L., 28
Vodno, village, 96
Vuk Brankovi, charter issued to Chilandar monastery,
95, 96
Vukovo, church of St. Petka, 98-99
Walter, C., 92
Weitzmann, K., 92
Wellesz, E., 65
West, R., 99
ia-Pe, archbishopric, 96

Index
Iconographic Index
Unless otherwise indicated, all references are to the church
of St. Panteleimon, Nerezi.
acanthus, 30 n. 4, 87
Adoration of the Magi, in post-iconoclastic period, 41
anargyroi saints, see physicians, holy
Ancient of Days, see under Christ
Andrew, St., apostle, 31, 33-34, 35, 74; in the scene of the
Ascension, paired with St. Luke, in the church of St.
George, Kurbinovo, 34
angel-deacons, 31, 32, 35, 45, 74; in the church of St.
Sophia, Kiev, 43
angels: in the Ascension, 40; in the central cupola, 43; in
the Communion of the Apostles, 32; in the cupolas, 74,
100; in the Deesis, 67; at Hosios David, Thessaloniki,
84; in procession, 40, 44; in subsidiary cupolas, 39-40,
45; in the Threnos, 51
Anna, mother of the Virgin, 56, 83
Anna, prophetess, 48-49, 50, 52; text on the scroll, 49
Annunciation, 56, 98; closed garden, 48; inscription, 48; in
post-iconoclastic period, 40, 48; of the sixteenth cen
tury, 97; in the Virgin Kosmosoteira, Pherrai, 77; and
the Virgin with Christ Child in the bema, 47
Anthony the Great, St., 60-61; text on the scroll, 61 n.211
Antipas of Pergamos, St., bishop, 44, 45 n. 110
apostles, 55; in commemorative prayers, 66; in the Deesis,
67
Arrest of Christ, 98
Arsenios, St., 61
Ascension, 97; in the church of St. George, Kurbinovo, 34;
theme of, 40 n. 77
Ascension of Elijah, in Hosios Loukas, Phocis, 17
Ascension of the Virgin, 98
Athanasios, St., bishop, 35 n. 46; inscription on the scroll,
36 n. 55
Auxentios, St., 72
Baptism of Christ: at Hosios David, Thessaloniki, 83, 84;
and St.John the Baptist, 45; in the narthexes of the
Panagia ton Chalkeon, Thessaloniki, H. Nikolaos tou
Kasnitzi, Kastoria, and St. Peter of Kalyvia, 18; in Vat.
Urb. gr. 2, 78
Bartholomew, St., 35 n. 45
Basil, St., bishop, 35 n.46, 44; in the church of St.John
Chrysostom, Koutsovendis, 36; in the church of the Vir
gin Eleousa, Veljusa, 36; inscription on the scroll, 36 n. 55
Betrayal of Christ, in the narthexes of Hosios Loukas,
Phocis, Nea Moni, Chios, Daphni, and H. Anargyroi,
Kastoria, 19
Birth of Christ, see Nativity of Christ
Birth of the Virgin, see Nativity of the Virgin
bishop: in the burial of St. Panteleimon, 70; at the church
of the Virgin Eleousa, Veljusa, 82
Bishops: in the bema, 30; in the church of the Transfigura
tion, Chortiatis, 83; in the Deesis, 67; in eastern chapels,
44; in the prothesis, 47; in side chapels, 45

115
Bishops Officiating, 35-36, 45, 74, 100; in procession, 36,
39, 44, 45; inscriptions on the scrolls, 36; in the narthex
of Decani, 19
bishops, costume of: encherion, 35; epimanikia, 35; epitrachellion, 35, 44 n. 108; omophorion, 35; phelonion, 35,
44 n. 108; polystavrion, 35; sticharion, 35
Blasios, St., 73
candelabra, 31, 32
censers, 40
chalice, 31, 32
chlamys, see under saints, costume of
Christ: Ancient of Days, 39, 40-41, 42, 45, 47; Ancient of
Days, in the Deesis, 67; Ancient of Days, sixteenth-century, 97, 98; in the Ascension, at St. Sophia, Ohrid, 43;
in the Ascension of the Virgin, church of St. Petka,
Vukovo, 98; in the Baptism at Hosios David, Thessa
loniki, 84; Christ Amnos, 74; Christ Antiphonis in the
church of the Koimesis, Nicea, 91; Christ Priest,
39-40, 41, 42, 50, 71, 74; Christ-Priest, at St.Sophia,
Kiev, 43; at the church of the Virgin Eleousa, Veljusa,
82; in the Communion of the Apostles, 31, 32; in the
Communion of the Apostles, St. Sophia, Ohrid, 43; in
the cupolas, 74; in the Deesis, 41, 67; in the Deposition,
53-54, 79; in the Deposition and at the church of
the Virgin Eleousa, Veljusa, 82; Emmanuel, 39, 40, 41,
42, 45, 47; Emmanuel at St.Sophia, Ohrid, 43; at
St. George, Kurbinovo, 92; in the Last Judgment, 40,
41; at the monastery of St.Neophytos, Paphos, 93; at
the Panagia Arakiotissa, Lagoudera, 92, 93; Pantokra
tor, 39, 40, 41, 42, 71; Pantokrator in twelfth-century
Byzantine domes, 43; Pantokrator, sixteenth century,
98; proportions in the Threnos, 78; on proskynetaria,
91; in the Resurrection of Lazarus, 55; with the Samar
itan Woman, 97; in subsidiary cupolas, 14; in the
Threnos, 51, 52, 54, 78, 79, 80; in the Threnos compared
with Christ in the Baptism at Hosios David, Thessa
loniki, 83; in the Transfiguration, 54, 79; wearing a stole
in the Presentation in the Temple, 49, 50
Christ before Pilate, 98
Christological cycle, 57-58
ciborium, 31
Clement of Ohrid, St., in the church of the Virgin Peribleptos, Ohrid, 34
coat-of-arms, 59 n.201
Communion of the Apostles, 30-35, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47,
74; St.Andrew, 31; St.John, 31 n. 8; St. Luke, 31;
St. Matthew, 31 n. 8; and the Nativity of the Virgin, 56;
St. Paul, 31; St. Peter, 31; St. Philip, 31 n. 8; procession
of Apostles, 31; sixteenth-century apostles, 30-31, 97;
St. Thomas, 31 n. 8
Constantine Cabasilas, St., archbishop, in the church of
the Virgin Peribleptos, Ohrid, 34
Crucifixion, 51, 53, 57, 72, 98; in the narthexes of Hosios
Loukas, Phocis, Nea Moni, Chios, Daphni, and H.
Anargyroi, Kastoria, 19; in the north-west chapel of Ho
sios Loukas, Phocis, 17; in the Typicon of Bakovo, 93
cuirass, see u nder saints, costume of

116
Damianos, St., 46, 80
Deesis, 67, 71; at St. George, Kurbinovo, and at the Pana
gia Arakiotissa, Lagoudera, 92; and St.John the Baptist,
45, 46
Demetrios, St., 59, 60
Deposition, 48, 51, 74, 78, 79, 82; and the Annunciation,
54; colors, 52, 54, 79; composition, 54, 77; St.John in,
79, 83; and liturgy, 58; and Transfiguration, 53, 54
Divine Liturgy, 44, 75, 98
Dormition of the Virgin, at the Martorana, Palermo, 57
Eleutherios, St., bishop, 44, 45 n. 110
Elijah, prophet, 54
Emmanuel, see under Christ
encherion, see u nder bishops, costume of
Entombment, and liturgy, 58
Entry into Jerusalem, 79, 98; composition, 55, 77; and the
Resurrection of Lazarus, 54-55
Ephraim, St., hermit, 66
epimanikia, see u nder bishops, costume of
Epiphanios of Cyprus, St., bishop, 35 n. 46,44; inscription
on the scroll, 36 n. 55
epitrachellion, see under bishops, costume of
Eugenios, St., 72
Eustratios, St., 72
Eustrogios, father of St. Panteleimon, 68
Euthymios, St., 61, 62
evangelists, 98
Evula, mother of St. Panteleimon, 68
fibula, see under saints, costume of
Five Martyrs of Armenia, 71 -72, 73; see also St. Auxentios,
St. Eugenios, St. Eustratios, St. Mardarios, St. Orestes
flaps (pteryges), see under saints, costume of
fleur-de-lis, 31 n. 10
Gabriel, archangel: in the Annunciation, 47-48, 54; in sixteenth-century Annunciation, 97
George, St., 59, 60, 70; at St. George, Kurbinovo, 92
girdle, see under saints, costume of
Gregory of Nyssa, St., bishop, 35 n. 46; in the church of
St.John Chrysostom, Koutsovendis, 36; inscription on
the scroll, 36 n. 55
Gregory Thaumaturge, St., bishop, 35 n. 46; inscription on
the scroll, 36 n. 55
Hermippos, St., 68
Hermokrates, St., 68
Hermolaos, St., 68
Hetoimasia, 30, 35-36, 37 n. 56, 39, 74, 100; in the central
cupola, 43; liturgical connotations, 36, 39; in post-icon
oclastic period, 40
Holy Spirit, 37
Holy Trinity, 36, 37, 39
hymnographers, see poets, holy
James, St., apostle, 54
Joachim, father of the Virgin, 83

Index
John, St., physician, 46
John Chrysostom, St., bishop, 35 n. 46,44; in the church of
the Virgin Eleousa, Veljusa, 36
John of Damascus, St., 61, 62-63, 65; text on the scroll, 63
n.234
John the Baptist, St.: in commemorative prayers, 66; in the
Deesis, 67; in the diakonikon, 44, 45; at St. George,
Kurbinovo, 92; inscription, 46; and the Last Judgment,
45-46, 47; at the Panagia Arakiotissa, Lagoudera, 92
John the Theologian, St., bishop, 35 n. 46; in the central
cupola, 43; in the Deposition, 53, 54; at Hosios David,
Thessaloniki, 84; inscription on the scroll, 36 n. 55; pro
portions in the Deposition, 78, 79, 83; in the Threnos,
51, 61, 79, 80; in the Transfiguration, 54
Joseph, St., 49, 50, 52, 61; at Hosios David, Thessaloniki,
83, 84
Joseph of Arimathea, 53; in the Deposition, 79
Joseph of Sicily, St., 61, 63, 64, 65; inscription on the scroll,
65 n. 250
Joseph the Hymnographer, St., see Joseph of Sicily, St.
Kiss of the Apostles, 30, 32-35, 47, 74, 100; aspasmos, 32
n. 16; explained by Photius, patriarch of Constantino
ple, 34 n. 34; in Macedonia, 35; inclusion in the scene of
the Communion of the Apostles, 34-35, 39; Kiss of
Peace, 32; Kiss of Sts. Andrew and Luke, 33-34; Kiss
of Sts. Peter and Paul, 32-33; meaning at Nerezi, 35;
symbol of brotherly love, 33, 34 n. 34; symbol of ecu
menical unity, 33, 35
Koimesis, 56, 97
Kosmas, St., physician, 46, 80
Kosmas the Hymnographer, St., 61, 62-63, 65; text on the
scroll, 63 n. 236
Kyros, St., 46
Lamentation, 57; and liturgy, 58; sermons on, 57. See also
Threnos
Last Judgment, 36; in the church of the Panagia Phorbiotissa, Asinou, 57; in the central dome, 44; at the
Holy Apostles, Thessaloniki, 57; in the narthexes of
St. Stephen, Kastoria, Panagia ton Chalkeon, Thessa
loniki, Hagios Stratigos, Mani, and Mavriotissa, Kasto
ria, 19; in post-iconoclastic period, 40; and St.John the
Baptist, 45, 46
Last Supper, 31
Lazarus, 55
Luke, St., apostle, 31, 33-34, 35
Makarios, St., 61
Mamas, St., 73
mantle (mandyas), see u nder saints, costume of
Mardarios, St., 72
Marian cycle, 56
Martha, daughter of Lazarus, 55
martyrs, holy, see under saints, categories of
Mary, daughter of Lazarus, 55
Meeting of Christ and St.John the Baptist, in the south
west chapel at Hosios Loukas, Phocis, 17

Index
Menas, St., 72-73, 82
Merkourios, St., in H. Nikolaos tou Kasnitzi, Kastoria, 60
n.204
Michael, archangel, 72; seventeenth-century fresco-icon,
99; in the Typicon of Bakovo, 93
military saints, see warrior saints
Miracle at the Tiberian Sea, 97
Modestos, St., bishop, 44, 45 n. 110
monks, holy, see u nder saints, categories of
Moses, prophet, 54
Nativity of Christ, 97; in the Homilies of Gregory of
Nazianzus (Sinai, cod. 339), 78; at Hosios David, Thes
saloniki, 83; at the Martorana, Palermo, 57
Nativity of the Virgin, 47 n. 122, 56, 79, 83; in the church
of the Transfiguration, Chortiatis, 83 ; and Communion
of the Apostles, 56
Nestor, St., 59, 60
Nicholas of Myra, St., bishop, 35 n. 46; inscription on the
scroll, 36 n. 55
Nicodemus, 53, 61
omophorion, see under bishops, costume of
Onufrios, St., at the church of the Virgin Eleousa, Veljusa, 82
Orestes, St., 72
palmettes, 30 n. 4, 31 n. 10, 44 n. 108, 87, 88, 90
pantaloons (anaxyrides), see under saints, costume of
Panteleimon, St., 46,47,72,73,74; arrest of the saint, 68; be
heading of Hermolaos, 69; beheading of the saint on a
steatite plaque from the Vatican, 70; burial of Hermo
laos, Hermippos, and Hermokrates, 69; burial of the
saint, 70; composition of hagiographic cycle, 71; Execu
tion of St.Panteleimon, 69-70; facial features, 80, 82;
hagiographic cycle, 67,68, 70; hagiographic