May 25, 2012

The Attarouthi Dove and the Byzantine Empire

The silver dove, with wings spread and feet tucked up as if in flight, represents the Holy Spirit that appeared over the head of Christ as he was baptized by Saint John the Forerunner (John 1:32). Early authors mention the presence of doves over altars in churches from Constantinople to Tours in France. This is the earliest known example of the type. Originally a small cross hung from the loop in its beak. It dates to the late 6th–early 7th century and comes from Attarouthi, Syria.