Icon with Saint Demetrios


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 303

Standing erect, a spear in his hand and a shield at his side, Saint Demetrios is shown ready to protect the Christian faithful. The name of the popular Byzantine military saint is inscribed in two parts in Greek. Martyred in Thessalonike, the second most important city of the empire in the early centuries of the church, he has long been the patron saint of that metropolis. Images of saints in military dress are rare in Early Byzantine art (they appear on the chalices of the Attarouthi Treasure) but typical of the Middle Byzantine period.

The cleft in the base of the frame may have supported a standard for carrying the image in processions or into battle. The holes drilled through the back indicate that it may have been used in the Latin West as a cover for a book.

Icon with Saint Demetrios, Ivory, Byzantine

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