In the times of Famagusta’s emergence as a prominent port of trade, in the 14th century, sailors started visiting an underground church known as the Madonna della Cava in Italian. Located on the city’s outskirts, it was regarded as a holy site especially associated with the specific needs of navigation, such as protection against storms or becalmed waters, and was invoked as a special protector during the crossing of the dangerous Gulf of Antalya. It was the only church in Famagusta to be included in the litany known as the Sante Parole, in which the holy sites located along the coasts of the Mediterranean and beyond were listed in geographical order.
This chapter sheds new light on the topographic location of this elusive place and the ways in which it came to be used and worshipped by both Greeks and Latins in Famagusta. It discusses the church’s widely accepted identification with either the present-day Panagia Chrysospiliotissa or the underground chapel near the Martinengo Bastion. Whereas the former’s far-off location in Kato Varosha does not match the earliest descriptions, the latter is unequivocally described in 15th- and 16th-century sources as a holy site in honor of Saint Thecla and associated with a miraculous spring. Indeed, a hitherto neglected text from 1546 locates Our Lady of the Cave in yet another location, close to the Torre dell’Oca, Famagusta’s lighthouse.
The present paper offers some thoughts on the complex issue of Italianate elements in Cretan icon painting by emphasizing the extent to which they can be considered to stem from motifs worked out in the mid-to-late fourteenth century in the wider, fluid space between Venice and the Eastern Mediterranean. It focuses on a cluster of Marian panels that, on account of their mixed Byzantine and Western character, have been hitherto confined to the margins of art-historical research and improperly labeled as works of a so-called “Adriatic” school. The critical reassessment of these works illuminates the ways in which innovative compositional, iconographic, and stylistic solutions were developed by masters well acquainted with both Palaiologan and Venetian art, and reproduced in a chain of replicas, some of which can be reasonably attributed to Cretan workshops.
Mediterranean Art Histories (MAH) offers a platform in the emerging field of Mediterranean studies which enhances the dialogue between Byzantine, Islamic, Jewish and Western art history and archaeology. In contrast to the claim for a global art history based on comparative models, the study of the Mediterranean iconosphere is primarily concerned with the connectivity of cultures, seen in a permanent process of transformation. By focusing on networks and liquid spaces, the series understands the Mediterranean as a model and test case for trans-regional research, transcending geographical boundaries. Among the topics which could be addressed by MAH are multi-ethnic and multi-religious hubs; the migration of people and artifacts, the role of collecting, uses of spolia and attitudes towards the past; the construction of centers; the visual transmission and construction of knowledge. MAH is particularly interested in studies which investigate the historical dynamics of contact zones (harbor cities; shared and contested religious topographies etc.); all forms of artistic exchange and interaction within the Mediterranean as well as with other areas; the formation and transformation of aesthetic languages; the dynamics of ornaments and the concepts of images; the agency of artifacts in religious, political, social and economic contexts. The series wishes to include works which investigate the historical conceptualization of the Mediterranean space (for example in cartography) and of the distinction of nature and culture. And finally, MAH welcomes monographs and collective works which address methodological and historiographical concerns which could also regard the musealization of the Mediterranean. If you are working on a book that would be suitable for this series, please do not hesitate to contact BRILL Editor Teddi Dols (Dols@brill.com).