ST. THEODORE of CANTERBURY
DRAWING by DANIEL MITSUI
St. Theodore of Canterbury, also known as St. Theodore of Tarsus, was born in Asia Minor in the early 7th century, and witnessed the wars between Sassanid Persia and the Byzantine Empire. He later fled the conquests of the Rashidun Caliphate, lived in Constantinople and later Rome. Pope Vitalian appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury in 668. As Archbishop, he oversaw the continued reconciliation between the factions of Roman and Celtic Christianity in England and established an influential school of theology and the arts.
I wanted this work to look distinctly English, but also to reflect
the extraordinary cosmopolitanity of St. Theodore, who was familiar
with Syriac, Armenian, Byzantine, Roman and Celtic Christianity.
The borders and halo include plants common in England: field pea, sow
thistle and English ivy. The blackletter inscription is Theodorus
Cantuariensis, Latin for Theodore of Canterbury.
The background resembles an Oriental carpet; I got the idea to use
this from the art historian Voklmar Gartzhorn, who proposed that St.
Theodore was personally resposible for bringing the tradition of the Oriental carpet from Christian Armenia to the British
Isles, influencing the insular manuscript illuminators.
The writings of Bede mention that St. Theodore was sent to England at the age of 66 and
wore the round (Petrine) tonsure, having grown out his characteristically eastern shaved head (Pauline tonsure) first in
order to be shorn in the Roman manner. Undoubtedly this was considered
important, as the shape of the tonsure was a point of serious
contention between the Roman and Celtic missionary schools in England
at the time (the latter of whom traditionally wore the Johannine
He wears a pallium in reference to his office as Archbishop of
Canterbury (the arms of the See of Canterbury to this day include a
pallium), an apparelled amice, and a chasuble whose orphreys combine
the ornament of the borders and the background carpet. The damask
pattern on the chasuble includes three crows and a lion, which are the
main elements in the arms of the city of Canterbury.
Medium: Drawing, color ink on goatskin parchment
Dimensions: 5 3/4" × 8 1/4"
The original drawing was made on private commission.
An open-edition giclée print of this drawing is available for $44. You may use the button below to pay via PayPal, debit card or credit card. Be sure to confirm the shipping address.
See this page for additional ordering instructions and general information. If you want to pay via a check or money order, please e-mail me at danielmitsuiartist at gmail dot com.