The Reliquary-Enkolpia of Saint Demetrios and the Wonder of Art

Gold and Enamel Pendant Reliquary with Saints George and Demetrios. The British Museum, London (M&ME 1926,4-9,1). © Trustees of the British Museum.

Professor Ivan Drpić, University of Washington, explores the intersection of personal piety, art, and aesthetics in his discussion of the reliquary-enkolpia of Saint Demetrios.

Date Apr 3, 2014
Time 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Location Hellenic College Holy Cross
50 Goddard Ave
Brookline, MA 02445-7415
Building Archbishop Iakovos Library Reading Room

To his medieval devotees Saint Demetrios was not physically accessible through his corporeal remains, but rather through his bodily fluids, his blood mixed with earth collected from the site of his martyrdom and his myron, a sweet-scented oil-like substance that the saint’s tomb in Thessalonike started to exude sometime before the middle of the eleventh century. A series of highly unusual reliquaries designed to contain these holy fluids has come down to us, many of them in the form of enkolpia, or devotional pectoral pendants.

This lecture focuses on two reliquary-enkolpia of Saint Demetrios now preserved in the British Museum and the Dumbarton Oaks collections. Aside from offering a fresh look at these strikingly sophisticated miniature objects, the lecture will engage with larger questions regarding the intersection of personal piety, art, and aesthetics—the latter understood in the pre-Kantian sense as the domain of sensory apprehension and materiality—in Byzantium. What role did aesthetic mediation play in the devotional encounter with the sacred? To what extent was the power and agency of Byzantine religious objects rooted in their artifice—the processes and results of crafting, working out a design, and shaping a material? Indeed, is the very notion of art, often regarded as anachronistic and misguided when applied to Byzantine material culture, still a useful category?

Downloads

50 GODDARD AVE
BROOKLINE, MA 02445
617-850-1242
mjcbac@hchc.edu

YouTube

THE MARY JAHARIS CENTER
for Byzantine Arts and Culture

Founded in 2010 through a generous gift from the Jaharis Family Foundation, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of knowledge about the rich heritage of Byzantine art and culture.

Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology Logo