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FEAST - A Saint for the Day (Dec. 27): St. John the Evangelist


John Dillon <[log in to unmask]>


medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>


Sun, 27 Dec 2015 23:36:53 +0000





text/plain (1 lines)

medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

The apostles James (the Great) and John were brothers, the sons of Zebedee. In the (pseudo-)Hieronymian Martyrology and in the Latin Calendar of Sinai (ca. 800) both are celebrated on 27. December. In late antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages it was believed that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, and John the Theologian (John the Divine), the author of the Apocalypse, were one and the same person. (Despite some modern doubts, this is also the position of the Roman Martyrology.) All the Johannine writings other than 2. and 3. John were usually ascribed to this one John. It seems, moreover, to have been generally supposed that John was the "beloved disciple" mentioned several times in the Gospel of John (13:21-30; 18:15-18; 19:26-27; 21:7 and 21:20).  Iconographically, John is represented either as a young man (e.g. in Gospel scenes) or as an old one (e.g. in depictions of him as John the Theologian).

Many legends of John go back to an originally probably later second-century aprocryphal _Acts of John_ that circulated in Greek and in other languages and that was condemned by the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. A fifth- or sixth-century _Acts of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian_ supposedly written by his disciple St. Prochorus (BHG 916-917; Latin translation, BHL 4323) was likewise very influential. Somewhat similar in approach but substantively rather different is a legendary _Account of John_ in Syriac (BHO 468). Legendary anecdotes of John occur in many other venues.

Apart from a period of exile on Patmos (preceded by arrest and transportation to Rome for interrogation, as in the story of John before the Latin Gate), John's legendary apostolate was conducted from Ephesus. He is also said to have died there and a legend grew up that once he had been buried his body disappeared into the surrounding earth (John's metastasis). The sands over his grave were said to move and on his feast day the tomb that was built above it gave forth a healing, dust-like manna collected by numerous pilgrims.

Supplementing Gordon Plumb's recent post, herewith further period-pertinent images of St. John the Evangelist (plus two earlier instances):

a) as depicted (putatively) on the late fourth-century ceiling in the catacomb of Santa Tecla in Rome:


b) as depicted (at right, in about the 2:00 position) in the later fifth-century mosaic ceiling (betw. 451 and 475) of the Neonian Baptistery / Orthodox Baptistery in Ravenna (for best results, click to expand the image): 


c) as depicted in the very late fifth- or early sixth-century mosaics of the Cappella Arcivescovile (a.k.a. Cappella di Sant'Andrea) in Ravenna: 


d) as depicted (left margin, second from bottom; below, St. Thomas) among the roundels of apostles framing the Theotokos and Christ Child in a sixth-century tapestry icon from Egypt in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland (OH):


The object as a whole:


e) as depicted (at bottom) in the earlier sixth-century mosaics of the triumphal arch in Ravenna's basilica di San Vitale:


f) as depicted (at right, following St. Paul) in the earlier to mid-sixth-century mosaics of the presbytery arch (carefully restored, 1890-1900) in the Basilica Eufrasiana in Poreč:


Detail view (at center):


g) as depicted (at lower left) as depicted in the recently restored mid- or later sixth-century apse mosaic (ca. 550-565) in the Basilica of the Transformation in the Holy Monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai, St. Catherine (South Sinai governorate):

1) before restoration:


2) during restoration:


h) as depicted in a full-page miniature in the early eighth-century Lindisfarne Gospels (London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero D.IV, fol. 209v):


i) as depicted in a full-page miniature in the late eighth-century Book of Mulling (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS 60, fol. 193r):


j) as portrayed in relief on early ninth-century ivory plaque from Aachen in The Cloisters collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:


k) as portrayed in relief (at far left) on a later tenth-century ivory reliquary casket, probably from Constantinople, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (click on the image to enlarge):


l) as depicted in an eleventh-century mosaic in the cathedral of St. Sophia in Kyiv / Kiev:


m) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Prochorus) in an eleventh-century Gospels in the Special Collections of Glasgow University Library (MS Hunter 475 [olim V.7.2], fol. 274v):


n) as depicted in the earlier eleventh-century decor (restored betw. 1953 and 1962) of the monastery of Hosios Loukas near Distomo in Phokis:

1) at right in a mosaic in the narthex of the church of the Theotokos (Crucifixion scene):


2) in a fresco in the crypt of the katholikon (John the Theologian)


o) John as depicted in the mid-eleventh-century mosaics of the Nea Moni on Chios:

1) as John the Theologian:


Detail view:


2) at the Transfiguration:


Detail view:


3) at the Crucifixion (at right, St. Longinus):


p) as depicted in the restored later eleventh-century frescoes of the Elmalı kilise (Apple Church) at Göreme in Turkey's Nevşehir province:


q) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Mark) in the restored eleventh- or early twelfth-century frescoes of the Karanlık kilise (Dark Church) at Göreme in Turkey's Nevşehir province:


r) as depicted on an early twelfth-century gilt and enameled copper plaque in the Museo Lázaro Galdiano in Madrid:


s) as depicted on the surviving leaf of the mid-twelfth-century (ca. 1147) Wedricus Gospels (Societé Archéologique et Historique, Avesnes-sur-Helpe [Nord], France):


t) as depicted (upper register at center) in the mid-twelfth-century apse mosaics (betw. 1145 and 1160) of the basilica cattedrale della Trasfigurazione in Cefalù:


u) as depicted (at the Transfiguration) in the later twelfth-century frescoes (1164) in the church of St. Panteleimon (Pantaleon) at Gorno Nerezi (Skopje municipality) in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:


v) as portrayed in high relief (fourth from left; asleep in Jesus' lap) by Anselmo da Campione in his Last Supper panel on the later twelfth-century parapet (_pontile_; ca. 1170-1180) in the cattedrale di San Geminiano in Modena:


w) as portrayed in high relief on the late twelfth-century portal (betw. 1180 and 1190; restored betw. 1988 and 1995) of the église primatiale Saint-Trophime in Arles:


x) as portrayed in high relief (second from left) in the jamb statues of the earlier thirteenth-century central portal (betw. 1205 and 1240) of the south transept of the basilique cathédrale de Notre-Dame in Chartres (photograph by Gordon Plumb):


y) as depicted in the early thirteenth-century Life of St. John the Evangelist window (bay 22; ca. 1215) in the cathédrale Saint-Étienne in Bourges: 


z) as portrayed in a statuette (second from left, starting with the BVM around the corner) in the earlier thirteenth century Mary Shrine (consecrated, 1239) in the cathedral treasury in Aachen:


aa) as depicted in a full-page illumination in a mid-thirteenth-century Gospels of Constantinopolitan origin (Paris, BnF, ms. Grec 54, fol. 278v):


bb) as depicted (at center; at left, St. Prochorus) in the later thirteenth-century frescoes (1259) in the church of Sts. Nicholas and Panteleimon at Boyana near the Bulgarian capital of Sofia:


cc) John as depicted in a later thirteenth-century wall painting in the Reformed Church, Csaroda (Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg), Hungary:


Detail view:


dd) as portrayed in a silver gilt statuette on the later thirteenth-century copper gilt châsse of St. Remaclus (completed betw. 1263 and 1268) in the église Saint-Sébastien in Stavelot:


ee) as depicted in a fourteenth-century wall painting in All Saints Church, Weston Longville (Norfolk):


ff) as depicted in a fourteenth-century fresco in the originally thirteenth(?)-century church of Agios Ioannis Theologos in the village of Agios Ioannis in Sfakia (Chania prefecture) on Crete:


gg) as depicted in a fourteenth-century panel from a glass window from the château of Rouen now in the Musée National du Moyen Age (Musée de Cluny) in Paris:


hh) John as depicted by Cimabue in an early fourteenth-century Deesis mosaic (betw. 1301 and 1303) in the cattedrale metropolitana primaziale di Santa Maria Assunta in Pisa:


Detail view:


ii) as depicted in an earlier fourteenth-century dome fresco (betw. 1312 and 1321) in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:


jj) as depicted (on Patmos) by Giotto di Bondone in an earlier fourteenth-century fresco in the Peruzzi chapel of the basilica di Santa Croce in Florence:


Detail view:


kk) as depicted by Giotto di Bondone in an earlier fourteenth-century panel painting (betw. 1320 and 1325) in the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris:


ll) as depicted by Simone Martini in an earlier fourteenth-century panel painting (betw. 1330 and 1339) in the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Birmingham:


mm) as depicted (metastasis) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the narthex of the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:


nn) as depicted by Taddeo Gaddi in two mid-fourteenth-century panel paintings (betw. 1348 and 1353) in the Collezione Vittorio Cini in Venice:

1) John a) being taken up to Heaven: 


2) drinking from the poisoned cup:


oo) as depicted in a later fourteenth-century vault fresco in the baptistery of Parma:


pp) as depicted in the later fourteenth-century frescoes (1360s and 1370s; restored in 1968-1970) in the church of St. Demetrius in Marko's Monastery at Markova Sušica (near Skopje) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:


qq) as depicted in the late fourteenth-century frescoes (1389; restored in 1971 and 1972) in the monastery church of St. Andrew at Matka in Skopje's municipality of Karpoš:


rr) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Prochorus) as depicted in a miniature by Andrei Rublev in the late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century Khitrovo Gospels (ca. 1400) in the Russian State Library in Moscow (shelfmark: ф. 304, III, № 3 / М.8657 [Троиц.III.3]):


ss) as portrayed (second from right) on the late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century tomb (ca. 1400) of St. Wendelin in his basilica in Sankt Wendel in the Saarland:


tt) John as depicted on the fifteenth-century rood screen in St George's Church, Gooderstone (Norfolk):


uu) as portrayed by Donatello in an earlier fifteenth-century marble statue (1410-1411) in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Florence:


vv) as depicted (on Patmos) in the earlier fifteenth-century Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (betw. 1412 and 1416; Chantilly, Musée Condé, ms. 65):


ww) as depicted by Jan van Eyck in a panel of his earlier fifteenth-century Ghent Altarpiece (1432) in the cathedral of Saint-Bavon / Sint Baaf in Gand / G(h)ent:


xx) as depicted in the earlier fifteenth-century Hours of Catherine of Cleves (ca. 1440; New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, Morgan MS M.917, p. 218):


yy) as depicted by Andrea del Castagno in a mid-fifteenth-century vault fresco (1442) in the cappella di San Tarasio in Venice's chiesa di San Zaccaria:


zz) as depicted (upper register, fourth from left; asleep at the Last Supper) by Master Leonardo in the later fifteenth-century frescoes (ca. 1470) in the chiesa di San Giovanni in Meluno (BZ) in Trentino-Alto Adige:


aaa) as depicted (at right; at left, St. James the Great) by Miguel Ximénez and workshop in a panel of his and Martín Bernad's late fifteenth-century altarpiece of the Holy Cross (completed, 1487) for the parish church of Blesa (Teruel) and now, after dismemberment, mostly in the Museo de Zaragoza:


bbb) as portrayed by Tilman Riemenschneider in a late fifteenth-century limewood statue (1490-1492; from the predella of the high altar of the St. Magdalenenkirche in Münnerstadt) in the Bode-Museum in Berlin: 




John Dillon


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