The Representation of Christ in Byzantine Hermitages: A Comparison
Vexillum: The Undergraduate Journal of Classical and Medieval Studies, Vol 1 (2011)
A common feature among the church decoration of Byzantine Cappadocia is the depiction of Christ in human form. It is primarily within hermitages, where ascetic monks dwelled that there was a demand for this particular kind of image. During the Middle Byzantine period, Christological narratives became the standard for mural decoration since the images could stand for the theology and history of the church. Two crucifixion scenes, one at the hermitage of Niketas the Stylite and the other at the New Church of Tokali Kilise give special emphasis to the dual nature of Christ while providing evidence of the historical event as told by the scriptures. The Crucifixion scenes found at the chapel of Niketas and the New Church at Tokali Kilise correspond to the function of the church, primarily as a space to celebrate the liturgy in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. Situated near the altar, the paintings convey a central theme of transformation as witnessed by the monks celebrating the Eucharistic liturgy. Expressing the divine through the human experience, that is through the senses, is a vital part of the spiritual encounter and as such requires a particular kind of imagery that promises salvation and eternal life.