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In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia
In: The Eclectic Visual Culture of Medieval Moldavia

Abstract

The incorruptibility of saints was understood as a sign that some of them were blessed with divine power even before they died. That the power of the saints remained active even after death gave them a paradoxical status of being neither fully dead nor alive. This phenomenon allowed them to continue to be present in everyday life. Some theologians believe that the body of Christ was a holy relic during the three days it spent in the tomb and therefore presents an archetype for holy relics. Drawing upon this area of thought, this chapter examines the role of bodily relics as a type and locates its possible prototype in the body of Christ. The case study focuses on the uncorrupted relics of the 14th-century king Stefan Dečanski in the monastery of Dečani, Serbia. Based on the king’s biography, we know that at some point after his death in 1331, his body was moved to Dečani and buried in the southwest part of the church. The king’s body was later translated in a solemn ritual from his tomb to the front of the main chancel barrier. Here, the remains were deposited in a wooden coffin, probably underneath the icon of Christ. The displaying of relics before the iconostasis, as is the case in Dečani, should be considered in light of the symbolic meaning of the chancel barrier, and as a link between type and archetype, between the saintly relics and Christ’s body.

In: Type and Archetype in Late Antique and Byzantine Art and Architecture