Scene depictions from the Life of St. Dimitri of Priluki have been known in Russian medieval art since the late 15th century. One of the earliest surviving life cycles is represented in the border scenes of a 1503 icon of St. Dimitri of Priluki with 16 border scenes of his life by Dyonisius from the Vologda Museum.
The 15th – 16th century life cycles are painted well in line of the Mineon redaction of the saint’s life. Most of the scenes are dedicated to the spiritual way of St. Dimitri: Dimitri takes monastic vows; ordained as presbyter; founds St. Nicholas Monastery in Pereslavl-Zalessky; speaks to St. Sergius of Radonezh; meets with the Grand Prince Dimitri Donskoy in Moscow; founds the Resurrection Church upon Avnega, and is expelled by citizens; founds a monastery near Vologda; foretells the death of the Grand Prince Dimitri Donskoy; blesses Pachomos for hegumenship; the repose of Dimiti and his burial. The life cycles also include his posthumous miracles: the miracle of the Viatka citizens (during the seizure of Vologda by the Viatka troops a burglar attempted to take the cover off the saint’s tomb but fell on the ground and died); the miracle of the building of the cathedral church in the monastery (during the construction of a new wooden church to replace the one that had been destroyed by fire, one of the monks had a vision of St. Dimitri carrying wooden logs; after that the monastery that had lacked funds for the construction could complete the building of the cathedral) and scenes dedicated to the healing of sick people suffering from mental diseases. Besides, some border panels feature miracles performed by St. Dimitri during the siege of Vologda such as the miracle of the white-robe monks (during the siege of Vologda by Dimitri Shemyaka the citizens had a vision of two monks dressed in white clothes propping the city walls with logs after which the siege was raised). The scene of meeting the Dimitri of Priluki icon on June 3, 1503 (O.S.) which Ivan III had taken during the Kazan campaign that was also part of some cycles was singled out as a separate scene in the second half of the 16th century.
In the second half of the 16th century there appeared life cycles that include scenes from the nativity to the death of the saint close to early life cycles of St. Sergius of Radonezh such a 17th century icon with 18 border panels from the Church of the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God in Vologda (the Vologda Museum collections).
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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