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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Mary’s intercessory role appeared in the early Byzantine church in the sixth century, if not earlier, and popular belief in her power to aid sinners, even after death, only increased in the Middle Byzantine centuries, following broader trends in the literature and art of that period. These texts and images from the Eastern churches of Constantinople, Asia Minor, Egypt, Georgia, and Syria reveal a growth in affective piety, which highlighted Mary’s motherhood and compassion, making her a natural object for personal devotion. Mary, the human mother of God, was an accessible figure whose very accessibility made her uniquely placed to intercede between sinful believers and God and his son, Jesus Christ. The evidence presented here for the development of affective piety in the Byzantine cult of Mary as intercessor reveals that Byzantine beliefs and practices prefigured the same trend in the medieval West by several centuries.

Keywords: Mary, intercessor, Theotokos, Byzantine theology, hymns, homilies, Apocalypses, affective piety, medieval West, Jews

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