The shroud of Anthony of Heraclea, which is kept in the Treasury of the Studenica Monastery, is one of only a few preserved historical fabrics in the heritage of the Serbian people. Named after its donor, as it is embroidered on the object itself, in Greek, in the lower right corner: † Μνήσθητί Κ(ύρι)ε τῆς ψυχῆς τοῦ δούλου σου ǁ ᾽Αντωνιουͨ Ηραχλεια(ς), in translation: “Remember, Lord, the soul of your servant Anthony of Heraclea”. It is believed that Antony of Heraclea was the Metropolitan of Heraclea of Thrace, and that he participated in the unionist councils in Ferrara and Florence in 1438-1439, so the object is dated to the end of the 14th and the first half of the 15th century.

Detail of the shroud of Anthony of Heraclea with the name of the donor, gold embroidery on silk, beginning of the 15th century, Treasury of the Studenica Monastery.

The shroud (σινδών) is a cloth in which the body of Christ was wrapped during the funeral, so the shrouds have the embroidered or painted body of Christ immediately after being removed from the cross. The shroud of Anthony of Heraclea belongs to the hymnographic type of shroud.

On the surface in the shape of an elongated rectangle, the base of which is silk the color of dark cherry, the body of Christ which was taken down from the cross is embroidered with gilded silver, silver and silk thread of various colors and shades. Around him are five angels, four of whom are with ripids and participate in the liturgy, while the fifth hovers above the body of Christ pointing to heaven, where the Lord will ascend. Below the body of Christ, between the angels, there is an inscription written in Greek, but in Cyrillic dictation: † Ώς ό ληστής όμολογώ σοι ǁ Μνήσθτί μου, Κ(ύρι)ε, ἐν τῆ βασιλεία σου ǁ ʼΑμὴν λέγω σοι σήμερον μετʼ ἐμοῦ ἐση ἐν τ₠ῷ Παραδείσῳ, ie “As a robber I confess to you, remember me, Lord, in your kingdom. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”, a quote from the Gospel of Luke (23, 39-43). Around the composition is a wide embroidered border with a motif of embroidered circles, in which crosses and swastikas alternate, while between the vines.

Detail of the shroud of Anthony of Heraclea with the image of Christ, gold embroidery on silk, beginning of the 15th century, Treasury of the Studenica Monastery.

A frame made of brooched velvet was added to the original fabric with gold embroidery. Stitching with metal thread on velvet woven with more than one color, in this case red, yellow and blue, is the pinnacle of technical achievement and artistic sophistication. Both textiles represent a unique whole. The conservation of this extremely valuable object began in 2014, in the National Museum in Belgrade. It included an extensive research, multidisciplinary approach, in order to explore all the materials from which the Shroud was made, as well as those used for decoration, but also the historical background of the object itself and its donor. The project was led by Željka Temerinski, museum advisor and conservator of the National Museum in Belgrade. In the last phase of conservation during 2019, textile conservators joined as collaborators: Marija Labudović Pantelić (Museum of Applied Arts in Belgrade), Milica Mirković (Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade) and Marina Kostić, external associate.

Detail of the shroud of Anthony of Heraclea with the image of an angel, gold embroidery on silk, beginning of the 15th century, Treasury of the Studenica Monastery.

In the meantime, a special climate showcase was made for the Shroud, which provides optimal conservation conditions for its permanent storage in the Studenica monastery. All these projects were realized with the coordination of the National Museum of Kraljevo, which since 2012 has been systematically working on arranging the Studenica Treasury and taking care of its material. The projects are continuously financed by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia.

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