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Dormition

byzantine mary western apostles

The term dormition is a Latin translation of the Greek koimesis (falling asleep). The *death of the Virgin *Mary is not described in the Gospels but is detailed in various early apocryphal sources, some of which state that she did not die but simply fell asleep for three days before her *Assumption to *heaven. This theme was later taken up especially in the * Golden Legend , which includes a detailed account of the deathbed scene to which all the *apostles (previously in various locations around the world) were transported back in clouds and witnessed the *soul of the Virgin received into the arms of *Christ.


The image appears in early Byzantine art and is frequently found in both western and Byzantine examples from the tenth century following. Traditionally, Mary is shown reclining on a bed or couch surrounded by the apostles, who exhibit various expressions of grief. Some of the apostles may be identifiable by dress or iconographic attributes. *Additional disciples, women, and *angels may also be present. Christ stands behind the prone figure of Mary, holding a tiny effigy meant to represent her soul. Sometimes the hand of *God or a crown appear at the top; this is a reference to Mary’s *Coronation in heaven. Related and similar scenes, such as the funeral and entombment of Mary, also appear as independent images in western art, and the bodily Assumption of the Virgin   (her transportation to heaven by angels) may be included in both western and Byzantine Dormition scenes. The image can be found on Byzantine icons and ivories, in mosaics, manuscripts, and frescoes, and in western manuscripts, stained glass, and sculpture, especially of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Dorsey, Thomas J.(1812–1875) - Caterer, Rise to Prominence in the Catering Industry, Chronology, Flourishes among Philadelphia’s African American Elite [next] [back] Doqui, Robert (1934–)

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