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Sibyl

sibyls twelve counterparts christian

A sibyl is a female prophet, for example, a priestess of Apollo from the pre-Christian period. Early Christian and medieval theologians identified twelve sibyls of the ancient world whom they cited as having predicted the coming of *Christ. These classical sibyls thus provided the pagan or Gentile counterparts to the twelve major Jewish *prophets in announcing the coming Messiah, as well as the counterparts to the twelve *apostles. Authors such as Saint *Augustine, Bede, *Isidore of Seville, and *Vincent of Beauvais specified the names of these ancient sibyls: Agrippine, Cimmerian, Cumaean, Delphic, Erythraean, European, Hellespontic, Libyan, Persian, Phrygian, Samian, and Tiburtine. They are represented in art as young women, often holding books, other attributes, and wearing turbans. The Erythraean sibyl (who prophesied the *Last Judgment) and the Tiburtine sibyl (who revealed a vision of the *Madonna and   Child to the emperor Augustus) are often singled out. Sibyls may appear in manuscripts with typological programs of illustration, in Gothic stained glass and portal sculpture, and in illustrations of the *Tree of Jesse.

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