Full Text


John A. McGuckin

Subject Religion

People Mary, Mother of Jesus

Key-Topics arts and architecture, incarnation, liturgy, saints

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405185394.2011.x


The word comes from the Greek, meaning “She Who is More Wide” (or more “spacious”) and refers to a type of the iconography of the Blessed Virgin where she is depicted, frequently in the eastern apse of the churches, with arms held out wide in prayer (Orans) and often horizontally distorted to emphasize the verbal symbol. On the Virgin's breast is the figure of Christ Emmanuel (sometimes in a roundel - clypeus , an iconographic symbol of the Logos conceived in his mother, but not yet born; which is an iconic type often called, in the Russian church, the “Virgin of the Sign” after Isaiah 7.14, or in the Byzantine tradition Blachernitissa , after the palace chapel of that name in Constantinople). The Platytera icon is a Marian Christological symbol taken from the hymn “In You Rejoices All Creation” of the Liturgy of St. Basil, which speaks of the paradox of the incarnation, wherein the Logos who is greater than, and cannot be contained by, the heavens (as their Maker), is nevertheless perfectly fitted to the narrow constraints of the Virgin's womb. Accordingly, the Mother of God is shown to be “Wider than the Heavens,” for she could contain the divine Lord whom the vast heavens could not. ( 1976 ) “ The Vision of the Virgin at Blachernae and the Feast of the Pokrov ,” Analecta Bollandiana 94 : 63 – 82 . ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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