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See also: Mandylion


A 10th-century encaustic painting from Saint Catherine's Monastery in Saint Catherine, Egypt, depicting King Abgar of Edessa receiving the Image of Edessa or mandylion, an acheiropoieton

Alternative forms[edit]


From Byzantine Greek μανδύλιον (mandúlion), μανδίλιον (mandílion), μαντίλιον (mantílion), or μανδήλη (mandḗlē, cloth, hand towel, handkerchief, tablecloth) (the last word dating to the 5th century), especially in the term τὸ ἄγιον μανδήλιον (tò ágion mandḗlion, the holy towel); from Latin mantēlium, a variation of mantēle or mantēlum (hand towel, napkin) (probably misconstructed as a singular form from the plural mantēlia); probably from manus (hand) + tergere (to rub, wipe, wipe off, clean, cleanse). Probably cognate with Umbrian mantrahklu.



mandylion (countable and uncountable, plural mandylions)

  1. (chiefly Eastern Orthodoxy) often Mandylion: the Image of Edessa, a holy relic consisting of a piece of cloth upon which an image of the face of Jesus Christ had been miraculously imprinted without human intervention (that is, an acheiropoieton); an artistic depiction of this relic.
    • 1967, Titus Burckhardt; Lord Northbourne (Walter Earnest Christopher James), transl., Sacred Art in East and West: Its Principles and Methods, London: Perennial Books, OCLC 896652107; republished Louisville, Ky.: Fons Vitae, 2001, ISBN 978-1-887752-41-1, pages 88–89:
      The tradition of the sacred image is related to established prototypes [] handed down in Christian art, the most important [of which] is the acheiropoietos ("not made by human hands") image of the Christ on the Mandilion. It is said that the Christ gave His image, imprinted on a piece of fabric, to the messengers of the King of Edessa, Abgar, who had asked Him for His portrait. The Mandilion had been preserved at Constantinople until it disappeared when the town was pillaged by the Latin Crusaders. A copy of the Mandilion is preserved in the cathedral of Laon.
    • 1993, Joseph Leo Koerner, “Not Made by Human Hands”, in The Moment of Self-portraiture in German Renaissance Art, Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 81:
      According to a sixth-century legend, King Abgar Ukamâ of Edessa fell ill. Hearing about a healer named Jesus, he sent for the holy man and promised to become his follower. Christ learned of this and praised Abgar for having faith without visual evidence. Unable to travel to Edessa, Christ sent a likeness of himself produced miraculously on a cloth or mandylion (from Arabic mandil, "veil," and Latin mantele, "towel" or "napkin"). Abgar was cured, and the mandylion remained in Edessa until 544, when its magic turned back the invading Persians from the gates of the now-Christian city.
    • 1995, Maurits Smeyers, “An Eyckian Vera Icon in a Bruges Book of Hours, ca. 1450 (New York, Pierpoint Morgan Library, Ms 421)”, in Werner Verbeke [et al.], editors, Serta Devota in Memoriam Guillelmi Lourdaux. Pars Posterior: Cultura Mediaevalis (Mediaevalia Lovaniensia; Series I, Studia XXI), part II, Leuven: Leuven University Press, OCLC 978-90-6186-692-3, page 199:
      These legends not only established the value of the Mandylion and the Vera Icon as authentic portraits of Christ, but also as acheiropoieta, i.e., images made without the intervention of human hands.
    • 1999, Sharon E. J. Gerstel, Beholding the Sacred Mysteries: Programs of the Byzantine Sanctuary (Monographs on the Fine Arts; 56), Seattle, Wash.: College Art Association in association with the University of Washington Press, →ISBN, page 75:
      In St. Barbara in Khé, a thirteenth-century Georgian church, the Mandylion is painted on the wall behind the altar, []
    • 2007, Acta Poloniae Historica, Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, OCLC 1460986, page 37:
      We know the history of the transfer of the mandilion of Edessa to Constantinople from the text ascribed to Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (913/944–959).
    • 2009, Artemis Leontis, Culture and Customs of Greece, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, →ISBN, page 42:
      The mandylion became not just a holy relic but an image to be copied, either as textile or as iconographic type on a hard surface: a painted icon of a mandylion with Christ's face on it. Furthermore it became a theological prototype. Just as the mandylion bore the impression of the incarnate God on its surface and became a vessel of divine healing, so all icons bear witness to the power of matter to reveal divinity and of revealed divinity to effect eternal salvation.
    • 2009, Diarmuid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, London: Allen Lane, ISBN 978-0-7139-9869-6; republished London: Penguin Books, 2010, ISBN 978-0-141-02189-8, page 452:
      The special nature of Orthodox icons was emphasized by the growth of a notion, much encouraged by these bitter disputes, that there was one quite exceptional class of art: acheiropoieta, images of Jesus not made by human hands, the archetype of which was the now-mysterious Mandylion given by Christ himself to King Abgar of Edessa [].


Coordinate terms[edit]

  • veronica (image of Jesus's face believed to have been made on the cloth with which Saint Veronica wiped his face as he went to be crucified)

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]

Wikipedia-logo.svg Image of Edessa on Wikipedia.Wikipedia