Evidence of Dominican Imagery and Cultural Identities on Venetian Crete at the Time of the Revolt of St Titus

In: Frankokratia
Maria Bormpoudaki Ephorate of Antiquities of Piraeus and the Islands, Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports Greece

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Current discourse on Latin imagery in rural Greek churches in Venetian Crete is habitually focused on images of St Francis. The explanations offered by scholars concerning his appearances in this context usually revolve around Francis’s perceived interconfessional appeal, but the introduction of another Latin saint from a different mendicant order into the monumental art of Byzantine character on Crete revises this picture significantly. The present article discusses images of Dominican saints found in Cretan churches of the Venetian period. With statutes promulgated in 1254 and 1256, the General Chapter of the Dominicans encouraged the veneration of Dominican saints through the dissemination of their images, and the representation of St Peter Martyr in his eponymous church in Candia clearly constitutes a visual testimony to this policy. At the same time, the portrait of St Peter Martyr in the Greek (Orthodox) church of St George in the village of Apostoloi in Pediada (in the wider Candia region) provides grounds for a discussion of cultural difference in Venetian Crete, as well as for the interaction between the Latin and Greek communities around the time of the revolt of St Titus. In my view, this representation, which is currently the only known example in a Greek church, should be re-examined in light of the prominent Venetian presence in the aforementioned region and the specificity of the local context.

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