Apostles in Christian Art

Apostles In Christian Art

1. Eastern and Greek Churches.— Among these the only representations of the twelve apostles known are the following: In an early Syriac manuscript of the Gospels, written at Zagba, in Mesopotamia, in A.D. 585, now in the Library of the Medici at Florence, is a picture of the Ascension, in which twelve (not eleven only) apostles are represented, the Virgin Mary standing in the midst of them. Of about the same date are some mosaics in the Church of St. Sophia at Thessalonica. Separate representations of many of the apostles will be found among the illuminations of the Menol. Graec. of the emperor Basil.

2. Early Monuments in the West. — These are very numerous in Italy and in France, and of very various kinds-as, for example, in mosaics, frescos, marble sarcophagi, and even in vessels of glass or ornaments of bronze.

3. Costume and Insignia. — The dress is a long tunic reaching to the feet (with rare exceptions confined to some of the Roman. catacombs), and with a pallium as an outer garment. The insignia by which they are designated are generally a roll of a book, commonly in the left hand, indicative of their office as preachers of the divine Word; or a chaplet, also held in the hand, significant either of the martyr's crown, or the crown of victory, which the Lord bestows upon those faithful unto the end. The scroll is sometimes replaced by a book of the more modern form (usually, however, the distinctive mark of a bishop). SEE TIARA.

4. Mode of Representation.-In Western monuments of the first eight centuries, the twelve are almost invariably represented as standing, or as seated, on either side of our Lord, who is either figured in his human person or (much more rarely) symbolically designated. In many early monuments there has been an evident attempt at portraiture in the case of the two " chiefest apostles." Of the rest, some are represented as of youthful appearance and beardless, others as bearded and of more advanced years.

5. Symbolical Designation.— The most common is that of twelve sheep, usually represented six on either side of our Lord, who is generally seen standing upon a rock, whence flow four streams. The two groups, each of six sheep, are in most cases exhibited as issuing from two towers representing Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Another symbol is that of twelve doves. Paulinus, bishop of Nola, speaks of a mosaic picture on the roof of the apse of his church, on which was delineated, inter alia, a cross surrounded with a "corona" a circle of light, to use his own words-and round about this corona the figures of twelve doves, emblematic of the twelve apostles. Other symbols are palm-trees, vines, and other trees, to which a mystical reference was given.

6. Special Insignia.— Another mode of designating the apostles individually is found in a series of enamels in the Church of St. Peter at Chartres. The twelve are there :represented with the following. insignia: St. Peter with the keys; St. Paul with a sword; St. Andrew with: a cross, saltier-wise; St. John with a chalice; St. James the Less with a book and a club; St. James the Elder with a pilgrim's staff, a broad hat with scallop- shells, and a book; St. Thomas with an architect's square; St. Philip with' a' small cross, the staff of which is knotted like a reed; St. Matthew with a pike (or spear); St. Matthias with an axe; St. Bartholomew with a book and a knife; St. Simon with a saw.

 
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