Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2019.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Thomas Cattoi


The Second Vatican Council calls for the inclusion of diverse cultures into the life

of the Church (Gaudium et Spes, nn.53-62) . This thesis explores the implications of this call in the field of iconography. It wishes to claim that iconographic contextualization does not jeopardize the universality of the Church, but it enriches its catholicity. To appreciate the dialectic between particularity and universality, I put in dialogue the iconology of Theodore the Studite (759-826) and the iconography of Engelbert Mveng (1930-1995).

Although the two theologians do not belong to the same period, they sh are an equal

eagerness to defend religious images against iconoclasts. Resorting to the notion of "the circumscribability of the Eternal Logos" developed by Theodore, the research brings the iconophile apologetic of Theodore in conversation with the depiction of Jesus as the Master of Initiation by Mveng. Thus , I evaluate the process through which the uncircumscribed God becomes visible in artwork . In so doing, this study discovers the notion of 'likeness' in which the relation ship "Prototype -Icon" is bound. For Theodore, it is in the likeness that the Begotten Son can be represented in the icon in such a way that the particularity of his icon reveals his universality. Therefore, we approach the African colors and forms in Mveng's Christological iconography to assert that the analogy of the Master of initiation can serve as a universal approach to the circumscribed transcendence of Christ.

Overall, this Christological research joins an ongoing dialogue in the Church that welcomes the diversity of cultures to enrich t he icons veneration.

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