On the bezel, or face, of this ring, bride and groom are being crowned by haloed figures of Jesus and Mary (or a personification of Ecclesia, the Church), who stand in the center. Though almost too small to see, beards identify the male figures to the left. Placing crowns on both bride and groom was an integral part of the Orthodox wedding ceremony.
This imposing ring has two unusual features: the bodies of the bride and bridegroom are hollow, suggesting that they were originally filled with gemstones, and seven scenes from the life of Jesus appear on the facets of the hoop. These miniatures are arranged in chronological order: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation in the Temple, Baptism, Crucifixion, and Christ appearing in the garden after the Resurrection.
Another remarkable aspect of this ring is the extent of its inscriptions. “Harmony” is invoked below the main image, as it is on many marriage rings. A more personalized wish is inscribed around the lobes of the bezel, “Lord, help thy servants, Peter and Theodote," no doubt the wedding couple, while on the narrow edges of the hoop are quotes from John 14:27, “My peace I leave with you,“ and “My peace I give unto you."
The imagery and inscriptions of this ring reflect the concerns of the married couple in their relationship to God and to each other. They testify to the intimacy between the ring’s owners and events of sacred history. Expressed even on the smallest scale, personal experience was understood to participate in God’s pre-ordained cosmos.
- S. Zwirn
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