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Image of woman in catacombs

Melodist

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I don't know if this is the proper place for this, but I found something I think is interesting that I haven't actually seen pictures of before.

While looking around at various sites concerning another topic, I found this picture.



I noticed the sheep looking up at the woman from below and was wondering if this may possibly be an early image of the Theotokos.
 

ozgeorge

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The image is found in many Christian Catacombs and known as "Orans" ("Praying"). Its meaning is the subject of as some dispute. Theories include that it is a representation of the Church as the Bride of Christ praying for the world, or the soul of the departed depicted as female (whether the person was male or female) praying for the living (i.e, an interceding departed Saint), as well as possibly the Theotokos. There is a fourth century example of an icon of St. Agnes depicted in the Orans position found in a Roman Catacomb (whose head, btw, appears to be uncovered! Shock! Horror!):

 
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