X, 2014, 1

In the Shadow of Your Wings: An Unusual Image of Saint Parascheva ? | p. 11–28

hymnographic motifs, iconographic type, imagery, Orthodox art, St. Parascheva of Epivates, Vidin


The article discusses the possibility of the existence of images of St. Parascheva of Epivates (St. Petka) with wings. The question came up in connection with an image from St. Petka Church (1636) in the city of Vidin, Bulgaria, which has been previously wrong identified by the author as winged
St. Parascheva. In order to clarify the problem, a brief survey of the development of the saint’s imagery is made with special attention to 15th and 16th century examples kept today in Polish and Ukrainian museums. Some details concerning the earlier stages of the visual aspect of St. Parascheva’s cult are examined and a correction is made concerning the image from the church in Vidin and another image from St. Petka Church (1580) in Trnava, Serbia, which was indicated in the literature as an image of St. Parascheva with wings. As a result of the research it is established that to represent St. Petka with wings has not been a common practice in Orthodox art. The one and only instance of the winged St. Parascheva, known to the author, comes from a much later epoch, being represented in the 19th-century paintings of St. Constantine and Helena Church (1865) in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but it remains an exotic exception even in the practice of those times.

The hypothetic image of St. Parascheva with wings is juxtaposed to the image of the winged St. John the Baptist, which became something habitual in Orthodox art, on the basis of some common connotations of their images revealed in hagiography and hymnography. In addition, the text includes some considerations on the factors that trigger the emergence of a certain iconographic type and on the mechanisms of visualization of hymnographic motifs in medieval art.