2008 | 21 | 81-102
Article title

THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS IN BYZANTINE ICONOGRAPHY (Podwyzszenie Krzyza Swietego w ikonografii bizantynskiej)

Title variants
Languages of publication
The present text continues the topic begun by the author in an article published in the 'Series Byzantina' vol. V (2007) entitled 'Miniature of the Exaltation of the Cross in the Menologion of Basil II'. The oldest representations of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross date from the mid- and late-Byzantine period. At the present moment, nine miniatures of this scene are known: seven in Greek manuscripts, one in a Georgian and one in an Old-Russian manuscript and two representations in the Sinai icon menologies. In the present article, the author provides a presentation and systematisation of those images on the basis of the present state of research, and an attempt at classification, pointing to formal models common to many liturgical scenes in the mid-Byzantine era and to the liturgical context of the ceremony in question. The scene of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross focuses on the key moment of the entire ceremony. An analogous phenomenon can be observed in the medieval Western iconography with regard to liturgical representations of the Holy Mass, which from the 14th century onward focus on the scene of the Raising of the Host. The existing formal similarity between these two topics goes much deeper, although direct inspirations are impossible to find. With respect to the idea, there is indeed a similarity between the once-yearly, ceremonial gesture of the Exaltation of the Cross in the Byzantine liturgy and the daily ritual of the gesture of the Raising of the Host, preformed during every mass in the Roman liturgy. The Exaltation of the Cross is a display for public adoration of the instrument of martyrdom and death of Christ that became the symbol of salvation. The Raising of the consecrated Host after the transubstantiation is a display for public adoration of the Body of Christ, understood, according to the allegorical interpretation of the Holy Mass, as the raising of Christ upon the cross. The Exaltation of the Cross and the Raising of the consecrated Host are both a revelation of the 'paradoxi Crucis'.
Physical description
Document type
  • Michal Janocha, Uniwersytet Kardynala Stefana Wyszynskiego w Warszawie, Instytut Historii Sztuki, ul. Woycickiego 1/3, 01-983 Warszawa, Poland
Document Type
Publication order reference
CEJSH db identifier
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.