Aër-epitaphios of metropolitan Antonios of Herakleia

The Studenica epitaphios of Antonios of Herakleia is a masterpiece of the church-art of the first quarter of the 15th century. It is example of the so-called aër-epitaphoi, large-format liturgical textile for which it is not possible to reliably determine whether they performed the function of aër (fabric used to cover gifts), epitaphios, or whether they had both purposes at the same time. The central field of the shroud is occupied by a representation of Christ in the tomb, whose body rests on his back. He is surrounded by five angels-deacons, four of whom hold rapids in their hands (a liturgical object used by deacons at the Holy Liturgy and symbolizing the Heavenly Powers that fly over and protect the Holy Gifts). A fifth angel with outstretched wings hovers over Christ’s body. Below the image of Christ, an inscription paraphrasing the Gospel according to Luke (23, 42-43) and one of the prayers before Holy Communion is embroidered with gold threads. On the left and right ends of the gold, silver and silk thread embroidered silk stands an inscription also inspired by Luke’s Gospel, on the basis of which it is assumed that the orderer of the epitaphios  was Metropolitan Antonios, archbishop of Herakleia of Thrace: “Remember, O Lord, the soul of Thy servant Antonios of Herakleia”. However, this cannot be stated with certainty, nor can the time or place of production, probably Constantinople.

More about the Shroud of Metropolitan Antonios:

M. Marković, Aër-epitaphios of metropolitan Antonios of Herakleia, in: Catalog of the exhibition Spiritual and cultural heritage of the Studenica monastery: past, perseverance, contemporaneity (ed. M. Marković), Gallery of Fine and Musical Arts SANU (December 13, 2019-March 31, 2020), Belgrade: Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts – Studenica Monastery 2019, cat. no. 57, p. 126-128.

The pdf of the catalog is available for download as a pdf or for purchase: HERE.

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