Saturday, 21 March 2015

Francesca Dell'Acqua: Mary as «scala caelestis» in Eighth- and Ninth-Century Italy

This paper is aimed at illustrating how the literary image of Mary taken up to Heaven developed by early iconophile authors in the East has been received a few decades later in the West by Ambrosius Autpertus († 784), who is generally acknowledged as the first Western medieval Mariologist. Although the modalities of transmission of early iconophile homilies to the West have not been investigated, it remains the case that Autpertus adopts the same phrasing, metaphors, epithets to describe Mary, her Assumption into Heaven, her role in the history of Salvation. Autpertus’ literary image was eventually translated in visual imagery in his own monastery in the years 824-42, pre-dating the earliest examples of the image of the Dormitio/Koimesis in which Mary is shown on her death bed surrounded by the Apostles. This paper will try to reconstruct the modalities of circulation of theological concepts between East and West in the period of the ‘image struggle’, their influence on the religious mentality, and their ‘translation’ into visual imagery.

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