The Museum of Byzantine Culture in collaboration with the Holy Bishopric and the Municipality of Morphou, Cyprus, organizes the temporary exhibition The Veneration of Saint Mamas in the Mediterranean: A Traveler, Border-defender Saint, participating thus in the events of Thessaloniki’s 4th Biennale of Contemporary Art, realized within the framework of the “5 Museums’ Movement in Thessaloniki”(5M).
For the first time, the exhibition examines and presents the broad diffusion of Saint Mamas’ veneration, known already since the Early Christian era, which until today remains alive among different peoples, constituting a network of communication, religious and cultural contacts in the broader Mediterranean region. At the same time, it seeks to highlight the relation of the Saint with Saint Demetrius, patron of Thessaloniki, along with the respective cultural contacts between Greece and Cyprus; both of the saints are honoured and represented as healers and myrrh-streamers.
The exhibition is structured in seven sections and eleven subsections. In the first section, the identity of the Saint is presented as this comes down to us by Symeon Metaphrastes (10th c.). The personality of the young child Martyr was constructed by a number of elements during many centuries and different traditions, and was enriched with new characteristics in the various places where he is venerated. In the second section and through three respective sub-sections, issues on the “pre-history” of Saint Mamas are displayed, its relation with the ancient tradition of the Mother of Gods and the male figure of the Goddess Ma, the symbolisms
of the animals in the Saint’s representations in the Byzantine art, emphasizing on the deer and the lion, as well as his attributes, like the stick. In the third section, the main characteristics of the Saint’s honour in the East are presented, emphasizing on Caesarea and Constantinople. The next one consists of two sub-sections, which respectively present the honour of Saint Mamas in Cyprus and the significant pilgrimage in Morphou. In the fifth section, which actually constitutes a link between the previous one (Cyprus) and the next one (Greece), the relation of the two healing and myrrh-streaming saints, Saints Mamas and Demetrius, is displayed, illuminating their common veneration and representation in Greece and Cyprus. In the sixth section, the dissemination of the Saint’s veneration in Greece is presented through a systematic documentation of names of places, settlements, churches, and depictions of the Saint in murals and portable icons. The exhibition ends by tracing the parallel diffusion of the Saint’s honour in the Western Mediterranean. Having as center the Saint Mamas Cathedral in Langres, France, where a part of his crane is conserved, brought there by the Crusaders after the Fall of Constantinople in 1204, a network of veneration places and churches dedicated to Saint Mamas is developed in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
The exhibits, which constitute an impressive and multifaceted complex ranging from the Early Christian (6th c.) to the Late Byzantine (19th c.) eras come from Greece and Cyprus. Some of them are presented for the first time to a broad and specialized public. They come from the collections of the Museum of Byzantine Culture, other public museums, Ephorates of Antiquities of Greece, and museums and churches of Cyprus.
Agathoniki Tsilipakou - Nikos Bonovas