Icons of the Feast of the Dormition

Icons of the Feast of the Dormition depict Christ in glory, surrounded by a mandorla, looking at the body of His Mother stretched on a litter, which is a richly draped bier. The Virgin is clad in her red and blue garments. We see Christ holding, in His arms, a small figure of a child clothed in white and crowned with a halo; it is the all-luminous soul of Mary, represented as a newborn infant, that He has just taken to Himself.

By the end of the eleventh century, the Dormition scene had begun to appear in representations of the Orthodox Church cycle of feasts, which adorn the walls and vaults of Byzantine churches. Some of the earliest wall paintings of this feast may be seen above the entrance of the Monastery of Daphne and the Perivlepto of Mystra, which date from the fourteenth century. As in the Monastery of Chora (Kariye), the icon usually took its place on the west wall of the nave above the entrance door. As in so much of Christian art, the iconography of the Dormition is based upon literary sources, of which the most important is the Greek apocryphal text of the fourth or fifth century, entitled, The Discourse of Saint John the Theologian Concerning the Dormition (Keemeesis) of the Holy Mother of God.

Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church, August. Holy Apostles Convent.

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