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Gojko Subotić
 Saint Kyriake, north aisle, Gračanica, 1318–1321
Michael and Gabriel in a circular segment of light sur- rounded by cherubs. With her appearance and out- stretched arms, the Mother of God corresponds to her frequent epithet Wider than the Heavens because she car- ries in her the Lord himself. Liturgical themes—the Com- munion of the apostles and the Service of the Hierarchs are below it. The last composition features the fathers of the church preceded by john Chrysostom and Basil the Great whose mystical action evokes Christ’s sacrifice. it repeats an oft-used iconographic formula formed at the end of the 12th century. in accordance with the character of the space, several individual images of the holy fathers were painted on the other sides as well, while the Resur- rection was placed over the central section in the blind calotte. The neighboring vaults and areas below them dis- play a series of events from the Virgin’s cycle (The Refusal of Gifts of joachim and anna, the Return of joachim and anna from the Temple, the annunciation, the Presenta- tion of the Mother of God at the Temple, etc.). The sec- ond significant group includes the Sacrifice of abraham, the invitation of the Three angels into the Home, Hospi- tality of abraham, Gideon’s Fleece, the Tabernacle, Di- vine Wisdom Which Hath Builded Her House, etc. Sev- eral scenes evoked the eucharist, but in accordance with the Old and New Testaments they represent at the same time protoptypes (prefigurations) of the Mother of God and the embodiment of the Logos. More recent studies
dealing with the complex meanings and stock iconograph- ic content typical, for instance, of the Old Testament Tab- ernacle, disclose not only an early established dogmatic foundation, but also expressions in religious poetry which disseminated certain ideas that prompted painters to in- clude them in their wall-paintings.
Certain scenes linked with the Virgin’s life are painted in her parekklesion, i.e. the southern one, while the north- ern contains illustrations recounting the life of St. Nicho- las to whom this space is dedicated. The chapel’s apse, however, also received St. john the Forerunner. His im- pressive image with its vigorous features became widely known and contributed greatly to a proper understand- ing of the values of the Gračanica frescos.
The subject matter of the main dome is similar to that of many such churches: at its apex personifying the ce- lestial heights in the notion of church as universe, Christ all-Sovereign (Pantocrator) is customarily represented; below him is the Divine Liturgy painted after the model of the liturgical service on this earth, itself invoking the participation of the heavenly powers with the small Christ—the Lamb on the communion table (hagia trape- za) and rows of angels dressed as diacons in stycharia with oraria, holding liturgical vessels.
The Great Feasts are in a fresco on the tall vaults of the naos, while the emphasis on narration typical of the epoch has come into full play on the lower sections of the corresponding areas. This was an important feature, by which the new current in the Palaeologan painting was simply called “narrative.” Numerous passages relating to Christ’s teaching are portrayed from the Gospels, while his parables are vividly illustrated. Christ’s Passion, in the main position beneath them, is represented in as many as twenty compositions, from the Last Supper to the Res- urrection, in which the Crucifixion, although painted with- in the Great Feasts, appears as well. The significance given to Christ’s suffering renders its illustration essential to each sequence, though several decades later it was consider- ably shortened. They had soteriological significance—the suffering and death of the Son of God were a pledge to the salvation of mankind.
Christ’s appearances after his death form a special cy- cle. They were embodied in the liturgy itself with the ap- pearance of the priest at the Royal Door blessing the be- lievers and retreating afterwards like Christ, while the se- lection and order of representations corresponded to the order in which the appropriate passages from the gospels were read in liturgical services during Lent before eas- ter—Three Women and the Virgin at Christ’s Tomb, the Myrrophoroi, Do Not Touch Me (Noli me tangere), the Myrrophoroi informing the apostles, etc.
The painters, inspired by a wealth of religious litera- ture, depicted in the west part of the naos the end of the Virgin’s life, illustrating it in a series of episodes: the prayers before her death announced to her by the angels; trees,

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