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Icons' Spirited Love

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This article examines three instances of Byzantine icons' declaration and demonstration of love: the Mandylion, the miraculous self-portrait of Christ, which arrived in Edessa in part as a veil that transfigured the wearer, the apostle Thaddaeus, and recipient, king Abgar; the icon of St. Paul that St. John Chrysostom kept by him when he wrote, which guaranteed the presence of that holy figure, as witnessed by John's peeping-tom assistant Proclus; and the icon of St. Macarius the Great and his Cherub that shows the fellow-love of that saint projected into the apparition of the Cherub. The writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite are the underpinning for the love these objects respond to and generate: love here is the desire to be unified with the divine and the good, and this unity is always brought about through human desire.

Affiliations: 1: University of Texas-Austin


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