In the fourth chapter (“Sanctity”), Hennessy considers the portrayal of sanctity in children. She initiates her discussion with the mosaics of a young haloed girl named Maria in the church of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki. She notes that Maria’s parents may have dedicated her to the city’s patron saint in gratitude for delivering them from childlessness. The author considers Maria a spiritual exemplar for other children and applies this same idea to the images of the boy David on the famous seventh-century David plates. She proposes that the latter were made for the young son of the emperor Herakleios to provide him with a model for princely behavior. She goes on to consider representations from the life of St. Nicholas in which he is depicted as a well-behaved child, although nothing less can be expected from a saint.

The chapter entitled “Jesus and Mary,” concludes with a discussion of the multi-dimensional representations of the youthful Christ Emmanuel in manuscript illumination and monumental painting. Hennessy interprets their proliferation in the course of the twelfth century not only as a reflection of complex theological issues but also of society’s general interest in portraying the sanctity of youth.

By Rossitza B. Schroeder, Bryn Mawr; excerpts, edited by ELLOPOS BLOG.

Cf. Cecily Hennessy, Images of Children in Byzantium. Farnham/Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008. Pp. xviii, 263; 8 p. of plates. ISBN 9780754656319 – at Amazon.