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56 | Mirosław P. Kruk are to be found in the miniatures of Jacob Kokkinobaphos’s Sermons, as well as in Kosmas Indikopleustes’ Christian Topography. 22 Milanović also emphasised, like Mouriki, that the description in the Hermeneia precedes all other monuments to which it refers. And last but not least, a Bulgarian scholar, Stefan Smjadovski (1998), indicated both the Akathist and the above‐mentioned hymn as a possible source for the hymnographic inscription (Num 17, 8 [23]) written on Aaron’s scroll on the 14 th century paintings of Zemen. 23 However, other authors expressed slightly different opinions. Eugeniusz Iwanoyko (1956) believed for example that the source of the depiction was none other than the Akathist Hymn, the most venerable hymn of the Eastern Orthodox Church, 24 while Josef Myslivec (1969) 25 emphasized the relevance of the sermons of the Fathers of the Church in the study he dedicated to the Slovak icons. Vira Svjencic’ka (1983) 26 and Romuald Biskupski (1985) 27 briefly stated that the icons belonging to this type should be understood as an apotheosis of the Mother of God. In Russian 28 and Ukrainian studies, 29 the subject was portrayed as “Pohvala Bogomateri” (“Похвала Богоматери”; “Богородиця з дитям і похвалою”). It is worth underlining that the Hodegetria Virgin accompanied by prophets (and often by hymnographers) became especially popular in the Ruthenian icon painting of the 15 th and 16 th centuries (Fig. 5-6, 8-9). Only a few icons represent a slightly different variant of the Hodegetria surrounded by the apostles (Fig. 7). 30 This other possibility of representation proved to be quite unusual for the pair of royal icons in the iconostases from Bulgaria, Serbia, Wallachia, and Moldavia, in which Fig. 2 : Mother of God Nikopoia surrounded by Archangels, Prophets and Hymnographers. Wall painting, Moldovița, cupola of the narthex, 1537. Credits: Vlad Bedros. the icon of the Mother of God was enhanced by adding a group of prophets. Likewise, the other royal icon of the iconostasis bore a depiction of Christ as Pantokrator, surrounded by apostles. Such an arrangement expressed harmony in the theological sense, as well as in the sense of the formal composition of the iconostasis and of its icons. A few autonomous studies and commentaries of this subject were announced in 2000. For example, Volodymir Aleksandrovych returned to the idea of linking it with the Akathist hymn, 31 while Maria Vassiliaki, who studied the reception of the Marian hymns in the art of the 16 th -18 th centuries, envisaged the possibility of linking once more the iconography of the Mother of God surrounded by prophets with the Hymns of the Prophets in one of the recent catalogues of the exhibitions devoted to Byzantine art. 32 In another exhibition catalogue, Yuri Piatnitsky analysed the specific case of the icon of the Mother of God surrounded by prophets in the Hermitage collection, and reminded its only analogy – the icon kept in the Saint Catherine monastery at Mount Sinai. He described both types of Marian images as Kykkotissa, thus indicating that the subject of the two icons had to be that of tender intimacy. Such a subject kept the pace with the changes in the liturgy of the 11 th and 12 th centuries, which lead, among others – as Hans Belting notices –, to a modified experience of the Passion of the Christ. 33 Referring to the same icon type, Olga Etingoff (2000) emphasized its Biblical patristic context, the texts of Saint Andrew of Crete in particular, and indicated that the demonstration of a tender relationship between the Mother of God and Jesus constituted in fact an innovation during the reigns of the Comneni emperors. Nevertheless, the merger of this depiction with that of prophets could not be accidental in the period of the theological disputes of the 12 th century. 34 Furthermore, Olga Etingoff noticed that the troparion Ἄνωθεν οἱ προφῆται preserved in the 11 th century Triodion from the Sinai Monastery (Sinait, gr. 736, fol. 71) is included in the Canon of Prophets read during the first Sunday of Lent, the one attributed to patriarch Germanus i of Constantinople. Etingoff also indicated the importance of the Akathist Hymn. In addition to that, she noticed that the perception of Marian symbols was linked to the arguments of the iconodules and with the heritage of Byzantine poetry, which focused on the veneration of the Virgin Mary and the icons 35 . In my opinion, stated in my ma dissertation in 1992 36 (published in 1995) 37 and elaborated in my Ph.D. dissertation in 1999 38 (published in 2000), 39 apart from the justified indication of the great meaning of the troparion attributed sometimes to John Papadopoulos Koukouzeles of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos (also called Kukuzeles; Kukuzel, ca. 1280-ca. 1360) or to John Kladas of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (late 14 th -early 15 th centuries), 40 the significance of the patristic texts as a literary source for the discussed subject should not be omitted. The visions of the prophets are linked to the parallels regarding the central role of the Virgin Mary, the ones which are drawn between the Old Testament and the New. They represent a commonplace in the writings of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (ca. 296-373; bishop of Alexandria from 328), Saint Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373), Saint Cyril of Alexandria (375-444; patriarch of Alexandria from 412), Saint Germanus i, patriarch of Constantinople (ca. 650-after 730; patriarch from 715), and Saint Theodore the Studite (759-826). In the late Middle Ages, they appear once again in the homily of Saint Daniel ii, a Serbian archbishop and a

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