Euchology for December
The Euchology for December
The "Menologion" or "Euchology," a series of prayers and accounts of the lives of the saints, was developed both in literature and pictorially in the form of icons. Like many of the icons that comprised the iconostasis, these too were interchangeable. They were usually placed on the lectern in observance of special saint's days, or to celebrate certain feasts. Those which were not in use were stored in special cases in the sacristy, or on the inner walls of the church.
The liturgical program of the sixteenth century placed special emphasis on the lives of the saints and their legendary acts of martyrdom. For the faithful, the saints were idols who embodied particular virtues. More importantly, many believed that saints could act as intermediaries between the earthly and the heavenly worlds for humanity.
"Menanion" or "Euchology" for December belonged to an original set of twelve panels. The cycle was commissioned by Lavrenty, Bishop of Kazan, for the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God in the Monastery of Joseph of Volotsk. The whole group was placed side by side in a single stand, with three rows comprised of four icons in each. Thus displayed, the manion was, like the iconostasis, an object meant for veneration and contemplation. The complex program of each panel suggests that the group was the product of a large workshop.
The style of the manion reflects the work of the Moscow School and suggests the participation of the artist Dionysus (see ImageBase) specifically, whose paintings and frescos covered the walls of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral of the Dormition, for which the manion was initially commissioned, was founded by St. Joseph of Volotsk in 1479 and became a significant center of artistic production.