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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

A small subgroup of sixth–twelfth century Marian images in Rome portray Mary in be-gemmed garments characteristic of a Byzantine empress rather than a modest virgin. Such images may have developed from a fresco of Mary in imperial regalia in the St Maria Antiqua complex, situated close to the Palatine and occupied by Narses the Eunuch and his army in the sixth century. Some of these images have been confused with Coronation of the Virgin iconography. Most were commissioned by popes who initially suffered, but subsequently overcame, challenges to their status. The chapter suggests this iconography became popular amongst these popes because it drew attention to unique papal links with the Byzantine Court, where the papacy negotiated with the emperor over final decisions on Christian Doctrine. Perhaps surprisingly, given this iconography probably developed via eastern influences no images of Mary dressed in this way survive in the East.

Keywords: Maria Regina/Coronation of the Virgin, St Maria Antiqua/Palimpsest Madonna, Roman Frescoes/Mosaics, Pope John VII, Madonna della Clemenza Icon/St Maria in Trastevere, St Peter in Vaticano, Rome, Pope Innocent II, St Nicholas chapel, Lateran Basilica, St Bernard of Clairvaux

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