Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Athos Holy Mount

Byzantine Minor Arts
9.56 Enkolpion-reliquary
Vatopedi Monastery
Silver gilt
Height 6 cm


The Original New Testament

This almost perfectly square silver gilt enkolpion has been fashioned to resemble the characteristic Byzantine reliquaries with a sliding front (Byzance 1992, nos. 236-7, 249). The frame and suspension ring are made of fine smooth wire, braided into a tress on the back and forming a fret of loops between chains on the front. This geometric border resembles both fifteenth-century Russian work (Kovarskaya et al. 1984, no. 6), as well as the sixteenth/seventeenth-century mounts for carved wooden crosses (Skovran 1980, pl. XVII, fig. 18. Ikonomaki-Papadopoulos 1991, fig. 93), and may be considered a survival of a characteristic feature of Late Byzantine metalwork. The niello inscription around the sides of the enkolpion reads: 'ΜΑΚΑΡΙΟΥ Μ(ΗΤ)ΡΟΠΟΛΙΤΟΥ ΚΟΡΙΝΘΟΥ ΥΠΕΡΤΙΜΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΕΞΑΡΧ(ΟΥ) ΠΑCΗC ΠΕΛΟΠΟΝΗCΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΤΟΝ ΤΟΠΟΝ ΕΠΕΧΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΝΙΚΑΙΑC' (Makarios Metropolitan of Corinth and Exarch of the Peloponnese and all dependencies of Nikaia). Metropolitan of Corinth in 1507, Makarios was translated to the throne of Thessaloniki in 1517 and died in the Monastery of Vatopedi in 1546 as Michael, monk (Glavinas 1973, pp. 167-76).

Portrayed on the back of the enkolpion is Christ Enthroned, wheels beneath his feet, the Virgin and St John by his side. According to the accompanying inscription: 'Η CΥΝΑΞΙC ΤΩΝ ΑCΟΜΑΤΩΝ Η CΥΝΑΞΙC ΤΩΝ ΑΓΙΩΝ ΠΑΝΤΩΝ' (The synaxis of the celestial hosts, the synaxis of all- saints); but in fact it is rather a synoptic representation of the Synaxis of All Saints which, borrowed from the iconography of the Last Judgement, here constitutes a Deesis with hosts of angels, saints and the righteous (cf. Chatzidakis 1985, nos. 127, 162).

The front side of the enkolpion has a composite bizonal representation of the Anastasis, in an iconographic type much better suited to monumental painting and compressed with difficulty into this small area. The scene of the Anastasis is separated from the celestial sphere by an arch culminating in a sharp point, above which are represented a host of angels on the left and John the Baptist with the Prophet-Kings on the right, a group which properly belongs in the lower zone. The host of angels, the first one holding the cross of Calvary and the lance and reed, the symbols of the Passion, usually occupies the entire celestial zone, and is associated with the eschatological interpretation of the Anastasis as a precursor of the Last Judgement. In Palaeologan monuments this composite iconography seems to depend on the ecclesiastical and philosophical scholarship of the donors and prelates (Deliyanni-Dori 1994, pp. 399-435). This certainly applies to Metropolitan Makarios, who as a genuine bibliophile was a rara avis for the age in which he lived. It is characteristic that what we know of his life comes to us mainly from the short chronicles in the manuscripts he collected and bequeathed to the Monastery of Vatopedi, along with his episcopal enkolpion.

Bibliography: Ballian 1996, pp. 505-7, figs. 445-6.

A. B.
Index of exhibits of Monastery of Vatopedi
16th century

The Authentic Greek New Testament Bilingual New Testament I

Icon of the Mother of God and New Testament Reader Promote Greek Learning
Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Learned Freeware


Reference address :