This essay concerns itself with the meaning and function of the Communion of the Apostles in Byzantine monumental painting. Scholars have often interpreted the scene as a liturgical reimagining of the Last Supper, aimed at creating a mimetic relationship between ritual and image, or between the liturgical act and its heavenly prototype. In contrast, based on the history of the scene in illuminated manuscripts, the accompanying inscriptions, and commentaries on the liturgy, I argue that the Communion of the Apostles is an illustration of the historical institution of the Eucharist and has little to do with the everyday liturgical praxis. This continues to be the case even when, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, Christ appears in such paintings wearing patriarchal vestments as the Great Archpriest. I maintain that this new element is rather a manifestation and an advertisement of the enhanced political and religious status of the ecumenical patriarch in the Late Byzantine period.
"A Reconsideration of the Communion of the Apostles in Byzantine Art,"
Studies in Iconography: Vol. 42, Article 2.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/studies_in_iconography/vol42/iss1/2