Natural Light in Medieval Churches


Inside Christian churches, natural light has long been harnessed to underscore theological, symbolic, and ideological statements. In this volume, twenty-four international scholars with various specialties explore how the study of sunlight can reveal essential aspects of the design, decoration, and function of medieval sacred spaces.

Themes covered include the interaction between patrons, advisors, architects, and artists, as well as local negotiations among competing traditions that yielded new visual and spatial constructs for which natural light served as a defining and unifying factor. The study of natural light in medieval churches reveals cultural relations, knowledge transfer patterns, processes of translation and adaptation, as well as experiential aspects of sacred spaces in the Middle Ages.

Contributors are: Anna Adashinskaya, Jelena Bogdanović, Debanjana Chatterjee, Ljiljana Čavić, Aleksandar Čučaković, Dušan Danilović, Magdalena Dragović, Natalia Figueiras Pimentel, Leslie Forehand, Jacob Gasper, Vera Henkelmann, Gabriel-Dinu Herea, Vladimir Ivanovici, Charles Kerton, Jorge López Quiroga, Anastasija Martinenko, Andrea Mattiello, Rubén G. Mendoza, Dimitris Minasidis, Maria Paschali, Marko Pejić, Iakovos Potamianos, Maria Shevelkina, Alice Isabella Sullivan, Travis Yeager, and Olga Yunak.

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Vladimir Ivanovici, Ph.D., (2011), University of Bucharest, (2014), University of Lugano, is Lecturer at the Accademia di architettura di Mendrisio and Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Vienna, specializing in the mise-en-scène of religious experiences, with a focus on the use of light as a medium of theophany.

Alice Isabella Sullivan, Ph.D., (2017), University of Michigan, is Assistant Professor of Medieval Art and Architecture and Director of Graduate Studies at Tufts University, specializing in the artistic production of Eastern Europe and the Byzantine-Slavic cultural spheres.
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

Vladimir Ivanovici and Alice Isabella Sullivan

Part 1: Light, Theology, and Aesthetics

1 Illuminated by Divine Presence: Natural Light in the Katholikon at Dečani Monastery
Anna Adashinskaya

2 Natural Darkness and the Transfiguration Church on Il’ina Street in Novgorod (1378)
Olga Yunak

3 Transparency, Color, and Light at Ferapontov Monastery’s Nativity of the Mother of God Church
Maria Shevelkina

4 The Blessed Sacrament Shining in Light: Windowed Niches in Medieval Livonian Churches
Vera Henkelmann

5 Seeing beyond Seeing: Light and Theophanic Contemplation at the Enkleistra of Neophytos, Cyprus
Maria Paschali and Dimitris Minasidis

6 Space and Light: Aesthetics of Light in the Byzantine Church
Iakovos Potamianos

Part 2: Lighting Sacred Spaces

7 Light of the East in the West: Natural Light in the Monastic Rupestrian Complex of San Pedro de Rocas (Galicia)
Natalia Figueiras Pimentel and Jorge López Quiroga

8 Sun, Stones, and Saints: On the Orientation of the Church of Sant’Ambrogio alla Rienna (SA)
Andrea Mattiello

9 Natural Light in the Church of the Holy Cross at Pătrăuți Monastery
Vladimir Ivanovici, Alice Isabella Sullivan and Gabriel-Dinu Herea

10 Modeling the Sunlight Illumination of the Church at Studenica Monastery
Travis Yeager, Jelena Bogdanović, Leslie Forehand, Dušan Danilović, Magdalena Dragović, Debanjana Chatterjee, Jacob Gasper, Marko Pejić, Aleksandar Čučaković, Anastasija Martinenko and Charles Kerton

11 Architectural Emptiness and Natural Light: The Church of the Virgin at Studenica Monastery
Ljiljana Čavić

12 Canticle of the Sun: Archaeoastronomy and Solar Eucharistic Worship in the Millennial New World
Rubén G. Mendoza

This interdisciplinary publication is intended for medievalists, Byzantinists, and early modern researchers at various career stages.      
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