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«A Lily Among Thorns»: Yoasaf Krokovskyi’s Akathist to Saint Great Martyr Barbara and Its Dominating Floral Images

Journal: Naukovì pracì Nacìonalʹnoï bìblìoteki Ukraïni ìmenì V.Ì. Vernadsʹkogo (Vol.51, No. 51)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 128-146

Keywords : Akathist Saint Barbara Ukrainian engraving life of saint Song of Songs imagery symbolism.;

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Abstract

Great Martyr Barbara is one of the most esteemed woman saints of the early modern Ukraine. In the research, functioning of floral imagery in the 17th and 18th century editions of Akathist to Saint Barbara ascribed to Yoasaf Krokovskyi is considered. First published in Chernihiv in 1691 as a part of the Three-Akathist Prayer Book, it was appeared as a separate edition in Kyiv in 1698. Since then, during the next century, there were dozens of republications of the Akathist illustrated by such prominent Ukrainian Baroque engravers as Nykodym Zubrtytskyi, Sofronii, Yakiv Konchakivskyi, etc. In the paper, semantic correlation between the textual and visual aspects of the book is observed by means of the comparative method. Baroque engravings displaying Barbara stylistically correspond with Ukrainian icons of that time. Commonly, in book illustrations, Saint Barbara was depicted wearing splendid garments decorated with floral ornament - which symbolize her virginity - and having a palm branch in her hand - which is the symbol of Barbara's martyrdom. At the same time, in the text of the Akathist, Saint Barbara is called a flower, a lily, and a rose. The metaphor of Barbara as a lily among thorns was probably drawn from the biblical Song of Songs through themediation of the Christian cultural tradition. Thorns mean temptations and sufferings of Saint Barbara that were inflicted on her by wicked pagans. There fore, in the Akathist the floral motifs are supposed to represent those qualitiesdue to which Barbara got the crown of holiness, namely: hers virtues, celibacy and death for the sake of Christ.

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