Iconostasis

Last updated

In Eastern Christianity an iconostasis (plural: iconostases) is a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church. The iconostasis evolved from the Byzantine templon, a process complete by the fifteenth century.

Eastern Christianity Christian traditions originating from Greek- and Syriac-speaking populations

Eastern Christianity comprises church families that developed outside the Occident, with major bodies including the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches, and the denominations descended from the Church of the East. It also includes Reformed Eastern churches such as the Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church which follows a reformed West Syriac Rite and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church that uses the Byzantine Rite. Historically called the Eastern Church in contrast with the (Latin) Western Church, since the Protestant Reformation Eastern Christianity is used in contrast with Western Christianity, comprising both the said Latin Church as well as Protestantism and Independent Catholicism. Eastern Christianity consists of the Christian traditions and churches that developed distinctively over several centuries in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Malabar coast of South India, and parts of the Far East. The term does not describe a single communion or religious denomination. Some Eastern churches have more in common historically and theologically with Western Christianity than with one another. The various Eastern churches do not normally refer to themselves as "Eastern", with the exception of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East.

Icon religious work of art, generally a panel painting, in Eastern Christianity

An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, in the cultures of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic, and certain Eastern Catholic churches. The most common subjects include Christ, Mary, saints and angels. Although especially associated with "portrait" style images concentrating on one or two main figures, the term also covers most religious images in a variety of artistic media produced by Eastern Christianity, including narrative scenes. Icons can represent various scenes in the Bible.

Nave main body of a church

The nave is the central part of a church, stretching from the main entrance or rear wall, to the transepts, or in a church without transepts, to the chancel. When a church contains side aisles, as in a basilica-type building, the strict definition of the term "nave" is restricted to the central aisle. In a broader, more colloquial sense, the nave includes all areas available for the lay worshippers, including the side-aisles and transepts. Either way, the nave is distinct from the area reserved for the choir and clergy.

A direct comparison for the function of the main iconostasis can be made to the layout of the great Temple in Jerusalem. That Temple was designed with three parts. The holiest and inner-most portion was that where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. This portion, the Holy of Holies, was separated from the second larger part of the building's interior by a curtain, the "veil of the temple". Only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. The third part was the entrance court. This architectural tradition for the two main parts can be seen carried forward in Christian churches and is still most demonstratively present in Eastern Orthodox churches where the iconostasis divides the altar, the Holy of Holies where the Eucharist is performed  – the manifestation of the New Covenant – from the larger portion of the church accessible to the faithful. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition only men can enter the altar portion behind the iconostasis. However one will see women serving behind the iconostasis at female monasteries.

The word comes from the Greek εἰκονοστάσι(-ον) (eikonostási(-on), still in common use in Greece and Cyprus), which means "icon stand".

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Location

Five-panel Deesis row (center), Iconostasis in the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow Kremlin by Theophanes the Greek, 1405 Iconostasis in Moscow.jpg
Five-panel Deesis row (center), Iconostasis in the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Moscow Kremlin by Theophanes the Greek, 1405

The nave is the main body of the church where most of the worshippers stand, and the sanctuary is the area around the altar, east of the nave. The sanctuary is usually one to three steps higher than the nave. The Iconostasis does not sit directly on the edge of the sanctuary, but is usually set a few feet back from the edge of the top step. This forms a walkway in front of the iconostasis for the clergy, called a soleas. In the very center of the soleas is an extension (or thrust), often rounded, called the ambon, on which the deacon will stand to give litanies during the services.[ citation needed ]

Sanctuary sacred place

A sanctuary, in its original meaning, is a sacred place, such as a shrine. By the use of such places as a haven, by extension the term has come to be used for any place of safety. This secondary use can be categorized into human sanctuary, a safe place for humans, such as a political sanctuary; and non-human sanctuary, such as an animal or plant sanctuary.

Altar structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes

An altar is a structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are found at shrines, temples, churches and other places of worship. They are used particularly in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Modern Paganism. Many historical faiths also made use of them, including Roman, Greek and Norse religion.

Soleas

The soleas is an extension of the sanctuary platform in an Eastern Orthodox temple. The soleas projects beyond the iconostasis, forming a narrow walkway running the full length of the iconostasis.

The iconostasis, though often tall, rarely touches the ceiling. Acoustically, this permits the ekphoneses (liturgical exclamations) of the clergy to be heard clearly by the faithful. In small, modern churches the iconostasis may be completely absent: in such cases it is replaced by a few small icons on analogia (lecterns), forming a virtual divide.

Acoustics science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound

Acoustics is the branch of physics that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician while someone working in the field of acoustics technology may be called an acoustical engineer. The application of acoustics is present in almost all aspects of modern society with the most obvious being the audio and noise control industries.

Analogion

An analogion is a lectern or slanted stand on which icons or the Gospel Book are placed for veneration by the faithful in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches. It may also be used as a lectern to read from liturgical books during the divine services.

The iconostasis typically has three openings or sets of doors: the Beautiful Gates or Holy Doors in the center, and the North and South Doors to either side. The Beautiful Gates are sometimes called the Royal Doors, but that name more properly belongs to the central doors connecting the narthex, or porch, to the nave. [1] They remain shut whenever a service is not being held. Modern custom as to when they should be opened during services varies depending upon jurisdiction and local custom.

Narthex

The narthex is an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and churches consisting of the entrance or lobby area, located at the west end of the nave, opposite the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper.

The North and South Doors are often called Deacons' Doors because the deacons use them frequently. Icons of sainted deacons are often depicted on these doors (particularly St. Stephen the Protomartyr and St. Ephrem the Syrian). Alternatively, they may be called Angels' Doors, and the Archangels Michael and Gabriel are often depicted there. The South Door is typically the "entrance" door, and Michael is depicted there because he is the "Defender"; the North Door is the "exit", and Gabriel is depicted here because he is the "Messenger" of God. These doors may also be casually referred to as the "side doors".[ citation needed ]

Deacon ministry in the Christian Church

A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state.

Ephrem the Syrian Syriac deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century

Ephrem the Syrian was a Syriac Christian deacon and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the fourth century.

Archangel Angel of high rank

An archangel is an angel of high rank. The word "archangel" itself is usually associated with the Abrahamic religions, but beings that are very similar to archangels are found in a number of religious traditions.

There are some exceptions where both the side doors depict Archangel Michael. The most notable exception is of the church of Saint George (Aghios Georgios) inside the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (in today's Istanbul).

In many monastery churches and chapels (though often not in the Katholikon, the monastery's main church) one may find iconostases with only two doors: the Holy Doors and the North Door. These churches are used for simpler monastic observances when only a hieromonk would be serving alone.

Placement of icons

Mid-17th-century iconostasis at Ipatiev Monastery. To either side of the Holy Doors are Christ Pantokrator and the Theotokos; above them, the Great Feasts; above them, the Deesis; above that Prophets to either side of Our Lady of the Sign; above them the Apostles to either side of the Holy Trinity. Ipatios monastery Kostroma 13.jpg
Mid-17th-century iconostasis at Ipatiev Monastery. To either side of the Holy Doors are Christ Pantokrator and the Theotokos; above them, the Great Feasts; above them, the Deesis; above that Prophets to either side of Our Lady of the Sign; above them the Apostles to either side of the Holy Trinity.

A number of guidelines or rubrics govern which icons are on which parts of the iconostasis, although there is some room for variation. In its fullest Slavic development it comprised five tiers of icons:

  1. The bottom tier is sometimes called Sovereign. On the right side of the Beautiful Gates (from the nave facing forward) is an icon of Christ (often Pantokrator ), which symbolizes his Second Coming [ citation needed ] and on the left side is an icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), symbolizing Christ's Incarnation, and entrance into this world[ citation needed ]. Therefore, all things take place between Christ's first and second coming. Other icons on this tier beside those on the doors themselves usually include depictions of the patron saint or feast day to which the church is dedicated, St. John the Baptist, St. Nicholas, one or more of the Four Evangelists etc. Above this are two interchangeable tiers: the Deisis and the Twelve Great Feasts :
  2. In the center of the Deisis is a large icon of Christ Enthroned. To the left and right are icons of John the Baptist and the Theotokos in attitudes of supplication. They are often flanked by icons of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, then Sts. Peter and Paul, and then any other important Church Fathers that may be desired for inclusion as space allows.
  3. The Feasts tier contains icons of the twelve Great Feasts of the liturgical year. Above this, the top two tiers are also interchangeable with each other:
  4. The Old Testament Prophets and Patriarchs—the latter including the twelve sons of Jacob—often to either side of an icon of Our Lady of the Sign; and
  5. the Twelve Apostles, often to either side of and icon depicting either Christ at the Second Coming or the Holy Trinity. [ citation needed ]

It is also not uncommon to find an icon of the Mystical Supper , which depicts the Last Supper, and by extension the Communion of Saints in the Kingdom of God, somewhere above the Beautiful Gates.

The Sovereign tier is always present, but all the others may be omitted. Preference is given to the Deisis or the Feasts tiers if only some of them can be included. Only the largest and most elaborate iconostases include all five.

Rubrics

Chapel of the holy icon of Theotokos of Smolensk in the Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk. Gorskii 03982u.jpg
Chapel of the holy icon of Theotokos of Smolensk in the Assumption Cathedral in Smolensk.
A Moscow Baroque icon screen in the Trinity Lavra in Sergeyev Posad TSL15.jpg
A Moscow Baroque icon screen in the Trinity Lavra in Sergeyev Posad

There are rules regarding who may enter or leave the sanctuary (altar), and by which door. Neither the Beautiful Gates (Holy/Royal Doors – central doors) nor the space between them and the altar table may be used by laity under any circumstances, although infants are either carried into the altar through them in the "churching" rite if they are boys, or if they are girls, the infant is simply presented at the doors. [2] Bishops may enter through the Beautiful Gates at any time; priests and deacons may do so only at specific times during the services when the Gates are open (but during Bright Week they always enter and exit through them). All others enter the sanctuary through the side doors.

In a convent only the abbess and elder nuns are permitted to enter the sanctuary (altar), and only by the side doors. The abbess may enter at any time, but the other nuns need a blessing to enter.

Iconostasis at Holy Trinity Cathedral (Chicago, Illinois) Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church 071215.jpg
Iconostasis at Holy Trinity Cathedral (Chicago, Illinois)

Male members of the laity who are usually allowed to enter the sanctuary include those involved in the running of the particular church, i.e. cantors and choristers, altar servers/acolytes, church keepers and vestrymen, etc.

In the Romanian tradition, on the day of the consecration of the altar in the church, the laity, including women, are permitted to enter and venerate the altar up until the beginning of the Vespers of Consecration.

These guidelines were developed over the course of many centuries, with both theologically symbolic and practical reasons for them.

Theological implications

The Iconostasis does not really "separate" the nave from the Holy of Holies; rather, it brings them together. The Iconostasis is the link between heaven (the Holy of Holies) and the nave (The Holy Place). Therefore, everything is symbolic upon the Iconostasis. The Icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and various saints and feasts are there because Christ, the Theotokos, the saints etc., lead us and guide us into the Holy of Holies. Therefore, the personages on the Icons upon the Iconostasis guide us into heaven, and therefore the Iconostasis connects not separates. The Icons upon the Iconostasis also are windows and bridges into heaven (although all icons, no matter where, are windows and bridges into heaven). Therefore, in a sense the Iconostasis represents Christ, who is the connection, the door, between both realms. The perfect explanation for the Iconostasis, and its uniting purpose, is seen in Hebrews 10:19-20, "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is through his flesh."

Evolution

A six-row iconostasis at Uglich Cathedral in Russia. North Deacon's Door (left) and Holy Doors (right). Cathedral Uglich inside 01.jpg
A six-row iconostasis at Uglich Cathedral in Russia. North Deacon's Door (left) and Holy Doors (right).

Archaeological evidence from the St. John of Stoudios monastery in Constantinople suggests that the Iconostasis evolved from the early templon. A basilica dedicated to John the Baptist was built in 463 AD. In it the chancel barrier surrounded the altar in a π shape, with one large door facing the nave and two smaller doors on the other sides. Twelve piers held chancel slabs of about 1.6 meters in length. The height of the slabs is not known. The chancel barrier was not merely a low parapet (a short wall); remains of colonnettes have been found, suggesting that the barrier carried an architrave on top of the columns. [3]

In early churches, including the "Great Church" Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the altar, at least in large churches, was under a ciborium ("ciborion": κιβώριον in Greek), usually a structure with four columns and a domed canopy. This had curtains on rods on all four sides, which were closed for sections of the liturgy, as is still performed in the Coptic and Armenian churches. [4] a comparison with the biblical Veil of the Temple was intended. The small domed structures, usually with red curtains, that are often shown near the writing saint in early Evangelist portraits, especially in the East, represent a ciborium, [5] as do the structures surrounding many manuscript portraits of medieval rulers. [6] As the iconostasis grew, the ciborium declined, although some late examples, by now invisible to the congregation, were produced.

The templon gradually replaced all other forms of chancel barriers in Byzantine churches in the 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries except in Cappadocia. The invention of the solid icon screen is traditionally ascribed to Saint Basil the Great.

As late as the 10th century, a simple wooden chancel barrier separated the apse from the nave in the rock-cut churches in Derinkuyu, though by the late 11th century, the templon had become standard. This may have been because of the veneration and imitation of the Great Church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, though the columnar form of chancel barrier does predate Hagia Sophia. [7]

Fedorov's Deesis, recently added to the retroquire screen at Winchester Cathedral, England. The differently situated rood screens of Western medieval churches often achieved an effect comparable to the iconostasis. FederovIcons.jpg
Fedorov's Deesis, recently added to the retroquire screen at Winchester Cathedral, England. The differently situated rood screens of Western medieval churches often achieved an effect comparable to the iconostasis.

The rood screens or pulpita that most Roman Catholic large churches and cathedrals in many parts of Europe had acquired by late medieval times occupied a similar position between chancel and nave but had a different function. The choir was usually east of the screen. Many survive, often most completely in Scandinavia, and more were built in the Gothic Revival, particularly in Anglican churches in England. In examples in wood painted panels typically only went up to about waist height, with a section with wooden tracery above allowing a view through, and then a large carved beam supporting a rood cross crucifix, often life-size, above. Larger churches had stone screens, which might impede virtually all view by the congregation.

See also

Notes

  1. So called because the Emperor used to enter by these doors during official ceremonies at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
  2. Metropolitan PHILIP "Prayers at the Churching of a Mother and her Child" in A Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians (Englewood, New Jersey: 1956) p. 118
  3. Matthews, Thomas F. The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy. Pennsylvania State University Press, PA, 1971, ISBN   0-271-00108-9
  4. The Orthodox Armenian Apostolic Church and Catholic Armenian Catholic Church;
  5. Bock covers the use and decline of ciborium curtains in considerable detail, though he is an old source.
  6. Grove, 2.1
  7. Kostof, Spiro (1972). Caves of God: The Monastic Environment of Byzantine Cappadocia. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN   0-262-11042-3.

Related Research Articles

Templon

A templon is a feature of Byzantine churches consisting of a barrier separating the nave from the sacraments at the altar.

Panagia epithet

Panagia in Medieval and Modern Greek, also transliterated Panaghia or Panajia, is one of the titles of Mary, mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity.

Deesis artistic theme

In Byzantine art, and later Eastern Orthodox art generally, the Deësis or Deisis, is a traditional iconic representation of Christ in Majesty or Christ Pantocrator: enthroned, carrying a book, and flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, and sometimes other saints and angels. Mary and John, and any other figures, are shown facing towards Christ with their hands raised in supplication on behalf of humanity.

Intercession of the Theotokos protection of Mary as Mother of God

The Intercession of the Theotokos, or the Protection of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, is a feast of the Mother of God celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches. The feast celebrates the protection afforded the faithful through the intercessions of the Theotokos. In the Slavic Orthodox Churches it is celebrated as the most important solemnity besides the Twelve Great Feasts and Pascha. The feast is commemorated in Eastern Orthodoxy as a whole, but by no means as fervently as it is in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. It is not a part of the ritual traditions of, and therefore is not celebrated by, the Oriental Orthodox Churches or Western Rite Orthodoxy. Yet the feast is perfectly consistent with the theology of these sister churches. It is celebrated on October 14.

Akathist hymn

An Akathist Hymn is a type of hymn usually recited by Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Christians, dedicated to a saint, holy event, or one of the persons of the Holy Trinity. The name derives from the fact that during the chanting of the hymn, or sometimes the whole service, the congregation is expected to remain standing in reverence, without sitting down, except for the aged or infirm. During Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Christian religious services in general, sitting, standing, bowing and the making of prostrations are set by an intricate set of rules, as well as individual discretion. Only during readings of the Gospel and the singing of Akathists is standing considered mandatory for all.

St. Marks Church, Belgrade Belgrado

St. Mark's Church or Church of St. Mark is a Serbian Orthodox church located in the Tašmajdan park in Belgrade, Serbia, near the Parliament of Serbia. It was built in the Serbo-Byzantine style by the Krstić brothers, completed in 1940, on the site of a previous church dating to 1835. It is one of the largest churches in the country. There is a small Russian church next to St. Mark's.

Royal doors

The royal doors, holy doors, or beautiful gates are the central doors of the iconostasis in an Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic church.

Eastern Orthodox church architecture type of church building

Eastern Orthodox church architecture constitutes a distinct, recognizable family of styles among church architectures. These styles share a cluster of fundamental similarities, having been influenced by the common legacy of Byzantine architecture from the Eastern Roman Empire. Some of the styles have become associated with the particular traditions of one specific autocephalous Orthodox patriarchate, whereas others are more widely used within the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Epitaphios (liturgical)

The Epitaphios is a Christian religious icon, typically consisting of a large, embroidered and often richly adorned cloth, bearing an image of the dead body of Christ, often accompanied by his mother and other figures, following the Gospel account. It is used during the liturgical services of Good Friday and Holy Saturday in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as those Eastern Catholic Churches, which follow the Byzantine Rite. It also exists in painted or mosaic form, on wall or panel.

Eastern Orthodox worship

Eastern Orthodox worship in this article is distinguished from Eastern Orthodox prayer in that 'worship' refers to the activity of the Christian Church as a body offering up prayers to God while 'prayer' refers to the individual devotional traditions of the Orthodox.

Axion Estin

Axion estin, or It is Truly Meet, is a megalynarion and a theotokion, i.e. a magnification of and a Hymn to Mary which is chanted in the Divine Services of the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. It is a troparion and a sticheron composed in honor of the Theotokos. The same name also refers to a style of icon of the Theotokos.

Ambon (liturgy)

The Ambon or Ambo is a projection coming out from the soleas in an Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic church. The ambon stands directly in front of the Holy Doors. It may be either rounded or square and has one, two, or three steps leading up to it.

Our Lady of the Sign style of icon

The Icon of Our Lady of the Sign is the term for a particular type of icon of the Theotokos, facing the viewer directly, depicted either full length or half, with her hands raised in the orans position, and with the image of the Child Jesus depicted within a round aureole upon her breast.

The Church of the Virgin Mary in Haret Zuweila is the oldest church in the district of Haret Zuweila, near the Fatamid section of Cairo. It was probably built around the AD 10th century, though it is first mentioned in writing in the early 12th century on the occasion of the consecration of the new bishop of Cairo under Macarius' Papacy. The Church of the Virgin Mary in Haret Zuweila was the Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria from c. 1400 AD to 1520 AD.

Panagia Portaitissa icon

The Panagia Portaitissa or the Iviron Theotokos is an Eastern Orthodox icon of the Virgin Mary which was painted by Luke the Evangelist, according to the Sacred Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The icon is referred to as "Wonderworking" meaning that numerous miracles have been attributed to the intercession of the Theotokos by persons praying before it. The original of this image is found in the Georgian Iviron monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, where it is believed to have been since the year 999. The synaxis for this icon is on February 12, as well as on Bright Tuesday, and also on October 13 for the translation to Moscow of the Iveron icon.

Ciborium (architecture) canopy or covering that covers the altar in a church

In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary, that stands over and covers the altar in a basilica or other church. It may also be known by the more general term of baldachin, though ciborium is often considered more correct for examples in churches. Early ciboria had curtains hanging from rods between the columns, so that the altar could be concealed from the congregation at points in the liturgy. Smaller examples may cover other objects in a church. In a very large church, a ciborium is an effective way of visually highlighting the altar, and emphasizing its importance. The altar and ciborium are often set upon a dais to raise it above the floor of the sanctuary.

Cathedral of Hajdúdorog Church in Hajdúdorog, Hungary

The Cathedral of Hajdúdorog, officially Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Presentation of Mary in Hajdúdorog is the cathedral of the Archeparchy of Hajdúdorog, Hungary. This status ranks the cathedral among the most important buildings of the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church. The origins of the current cathedral reaches back to 1312, when historical notes mention that a church existed in the medieval settlement of Dorogegyháza. However, the present building has 17th century foundations, and it went through several building extensions and renovations during its history. The latest restoration were completed in 2006.

Iconostasis of the Cathedral of Hajdúdorog

The iconostasis of the Cathedral of Hajdúdorog is the largest Greek Catholic icon screen in Hungary. It is 11 m tall and 7 m wide, holding 54 icons on five tiers. Creating such a monumental work of art requires a number of different craftsmen. Miklós Jankovits was hired by the Greek Catholic parish of Hajdúdorog in 1799 to carve the wooden framework, including the doors and the icon frames of the iconostasis. Mátyás Hittner and János Szűts could only start the painting and gilding works in 1808. The last icon was completed in 1816.

Panagia Episkopi church building in Episkopi Gonias, South Aegean, Greece

The Panagia Episkopi is the previous middle-Byzantine cathedral of the Greek Cycladean island of Santorini (Thira). It is also called Panagia tis Episkopis or Church of Episkopi Thiras. According to a traditional, now almost completely destroyed inscription, the church building was commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos at the end of the 11th century, and took the place of a previous three-aisled early Byzantine basilica. The church was dedicated to the Panagia ("All-holy"), a Greek Orthodox appellation for the Virgin Mary. The second part of the name (Episkopi) means "episcopal". The Panagia Episkopi was the seat of the Orthodox diocese of Santorini until 1207 and from 1537 to 1827.

References