Aureole (Mandorla)





An aureole (from Latin for "gold") is a halo that envelopes the whole body, signifying a greater degree of sanctity and divine power than a regular halo. It is also known as a mandorla (from the Italian for "almond").

The aureole or mandorla is often used for Christ in representations of the Transfiguration, Ascension and Last Judgment as well as in depictions of the Assumption of Mary and sometimes the Virgin and Child. It is especially frequent in portal sculpture on churches.

Christ with aureole in Santa Prassede, Rome
Christ enclosed in both a halo and aureole in Santa Prassede, Rome. Photo: Sacred Destinations.
Transfiguration
Mandorla in the Transfiguration by Fra Angelico, 1440, Florence.
Mandorla around Virgin Mary
Mandorla in Assumption of the Virgin by Bulgarini, 1360s, Siena.
 




Sources

  1. "Mandorla." Peter and Linda Murray, Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art (2004).
  2. Aureole illustration by Walter E. Gast.