Middle-Byzantine Phialai : a Preliminar Survey, from Constantinople to Provincial Areas
TRANCHINA Antonino, Université de Rome – La Sapienza
Among fixed liturgical furnitures which served the needs of the Greek Liturgy throughout the year, phiale represented a kind of seldom-used item. However, for it was meant to preserve to Holy Water blessed during the Megas Aghiasmos Service and used to administrate Baptism/Illumination, it was a general element of the liturgical furnishing in Byzantine churches from the Middle Period onwards.
While stress has been fruitfully laid upon baptismal basins belonging to early Byzantine times, later vessels seem to be quite neglected by scholars except for a few cases. On the opposite, written sources such as typika and eucologhia clearly show that despite their diminished scale, so called baptismal fonts kept playing a central role in the liturgical tradition.
The aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly to detect extant phialai throughout the Byzantine oecumene, from Constantinople and other places relating with the Metropolitan area to the provinces, especially Southern Italy. A fitting starting point would be the spread of the monastic liturgical tradition across several areas within the Empire itself, from late 9th century. The analysis would take in account evidences provided until 12th century (i.e. after the fall of the Catepanate of Italy, in regards to some Italo-Greek pieces). Secondly to estimate how material features and decoration of such vessels could be affected by their common function and high religious value.