Pelendri village church

Date: 1178 (apse), 1330s (nave), 1370s (north chapel)
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Cyprus
Description: The village of Pelendri (Cyprus) has a twelfth-century Byzantine church dedicated to the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros in Greek). The villagers enlarged and repainted the single-nave domed church in the following centuries and still use it today.

Two Greek inscriptions survive. The first, in the apse, credits the priest George, additional unnamed priests, and the villagers of Pelendri who collectively "renewed" the church in 1178, hiring a monk whose name is now lost to paint the frescoes. A second text, over the western door, commemorates the repainting of the nave with a series of Marian scenes in the 1330s. These include the meeting of the pregnant Mary and her cousin Elizabeth—the Visitation scene ,recorded in the Gospel of Luke 1:39–56—in which Elizabeth embraces Mary and acknowledges Jesus in his mother's womb. The artist has made both wombs transparent to show Elizabeth's unborn child, John the Baptist, bowing to Jesus. This unusual image appeared in thirteenth-century manuscripts from Armenian Cilicia, but it remained rare in Byzantium.

A space added to the north side of the church was frescoed in the 1370s. Scenes include a Tree of Jesse (showing the genealogy of Jesus as figures on a tree emerging from the body of Jesse, the father of King David) and the "Doubting Thomas" (John 20:24–29), witnessed by two well-dressed supplicants (presumably a married couple). The scene abuts the Lusignan coat of arms, and in the later fourteenth century the area around Pelendri was owned by the brother of the Lusignan king. It is possible that the north chapel at Pelendri served followers of the Roman rite, but the patrons hired an artist who worked in an up-to-date Palaiologan (i.e., Byzantine) style.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 8, 9, 10
Image Credits: Linda Safran

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Pelendri, Holy Cross, exterior from the north Pelendri, Holy Cross, Marian scenes in nave vault.JPG Pelendri, Holy Cross, Visitation scene Pelendri, Holy Cross, north chapel, Tree of Jesse Pelendri, Holy Cross, north chapel, Doubting Thomas with two supplicants