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Noli me tangere.

Narrative and Iconic Space


Barbara Baert
Jerusalem can be considered as a Jerusalem of the holy places, narrated
and translocated; the Jerusalem of pilgrims—cross relics, dust and sweat,
stones and pockets; the Jerusalem of the events in caves, the events described on parchment, sung on the streets, events that have sunken away
in a collective amnesia. It might also be considered as a Jerusalem of emptiness, of the untouchable, a city that holds a soul that yearns and reaches
out for everything intangible. Is not Jerusalem’s very core a black hole, the
Holy Sepulchre—an absence? Yes, indeed!
The gospels all relate the story of Christ’s death and his coming back
from the dead, the empty grave and the resurrection. The resurgence from
death to life takes place in the middle of the night, at a specifijied place that
the Christian tradition would enshrine as its deepest mystery in its literary,
visual and material culture. In the Gospel of John, however, the tale of death
and resurrection is supplied with a remarkable motif: the Noli me tangere.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to
look into the tomb; / and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the
body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. /
They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They
have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him./
When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but
she did not know that it was Jesus. / Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you
weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener,
she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have
laid him, and I will take him away.’ / Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned
and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ [which means Teacher]. / Jesus said
to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and
your Father, to my God and your God.’’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and an* The article was written in the context of the international research project “Mary
Magdalene and the Touching of Jesus. An Intradisciplinary and Interdisciplinary
Investigation of the Interpretation of John 20, 17 in Exegesis, Iconography and Pastoral
Care”, of the Fundings for Scientifijic Research-Flanders (2004-2009), which involves the
researchers Barbara Baert, Reimund Bieringer, Karlijn Demasure and Ine Van Den Eynde.
I am obliged to our scientifijic stafff member Liesbet Kusters.

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Barbara Baert
nounced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he
had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)1

My purpose in this essay is to understand how a forbidden touch can
act as a pars pro toto for the spatial meaning of Jerusalem and its place
in Medieval Salvation History. For this purpose, I have developed three
methodological sections. In the fijirst section, ‘Navel’, I will look at the
iconographical representation and the use of symbolic language. I will
analyse how a Jerusalem of the empty grave and of the Magdalene is
anchored in its spatiality, beginning with the earliest examples in art
history. In the second part of this text, entitled ‘Rupture’, I will compare
the textual and visual features in the Noli me tangere in order to gain
insight into the medium specifijicity of the Noli me tangere in word and
image. In this section, new insights will arise out of the interdisciplinary
collaborations between exegesis and art history. The heart of the textimage comparison presents a more structural reading of considering,
forming and interpreting the spatial in Noli me tangere. In the third section,
‘Thresholds’, I add a case-study of the Florentine Noli me tangere by Puccio
di Simone in Santa Trinità. In this last section, insights are positioned in
their historical relevance and situated in the medieval reception of the
Noli me tangere.
I. Navel. ‘Noli me Tangere’, The Empty Grave and the Tree
How does Noli me tangere defijine Jerusalem, and which image of Jerusalem
is presented in text and image? Our question cannot be detached from the
actual context—the death and resurrection of Christ—and the very moment captured in iconography—the appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene. Verse 17 contains an important complexity—Noli me tangere—and
its impact on the fijine arts has been commensurate.2 The original Greek
1 NRSV text.
2 For the iconographic corpus, see Gertrud Schiller: Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst,
vol. III: Die Auferstehung und Erhöhung Christi, Gütersloh 1971, pp. 88-98; Marilena Mosco:
La Maddalena tra Sacro e Profano. Da Giotto a De Chirico, Florence 1986, pp. 135-145, considers
examples from the 16th century; Lilia Sebastiani: Transfijigurazione. Il personaggio evangelico
di Maria di Magdala e il mito dell peccatrice redenta nella tradizione occidentale, Brescia
1992, p. 240, erroneously claims that the Noli me tangere possesses an iconography that does
not change; Susan Haskins: Mary Magdalen. Myth and Metaphor, London 1993, presents a
Wirkungsgeschichte of the fijigure, with attention to the visual arts, but does not discuss Noli
me tangere iconography. L’excès des images, L’apparition à Marie-Madeleine, ed. by Marianne
Alphant/Guy Lafon/Daniel Arasse, Paris 2001, pp. 79-126, offfers aesthetic considerations of

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. aspects of the relationship between text and image are confronted with exegesis.. In Barbara Baert: Touching with the 16-28.indb 325 31-5-2012 10:35:45 . Paris 2003. Jahrhundert. En ikonografijisk studie med tonvikt pa motivets framställning in den tidiga medeltidens konst (Ph. Many Images. pp.D. 43-52. ‘to cling’ or ‘to clutch’ is not found in the biblical occurrences of this verb. The following monographs have not been published: Anna Trotzig: Christus Resurgens Apparet Mariae Magdalena. Ulrike Tarnow: ‘Noli me tangere’: zur Problematik eines visuellen Topos und seiner Transformationen im Cinquecento.. by Thomas Frank. Narrative and Iconic Space 325 texts read: Me mou haptou. Ottawa 1993. The connotation ‘to grasp’. Mary Magdalene. diss. New York 1982. 1988). Leuven 2006. diss. I will develop two Ottonian examples which are considered to be the oldest of an unquestioned Noli me tangere motif: the Codex Egberti and the famous Hildesheim doors. New York 2004. pp. but also means ‘to approach’. One Person. 1988. s. 1993). New York. pp. The ‘prohibition of touching’ has been the starting point of a long visual tradition that is characterised by that fascinating. by Barbara Baert et al. in: Noli me tangere. New York University. diss. 2004). which narrates the Jerusalem of the empty grave. Prozesse der Neuordnung von Wissensüberlieferungen des 13. Noli me tangere has defijinitely been understood along the lines of tactility in the West. Maja Lehmann: Die Darstellungen des Noli me tangere in der italienischen Kunst vom 12. in: Noli me tangere. 2007 [online journal. 209-225. diss. the notion of the gaze in the Noli me tangere is explored from the perspective of image theory. Many Images. In Barbara Baert: ‘Noli me tangere’. Jahrhunderts. is a recent semiotic reading of the Titian Noli me tangere.Noli me tangere. Stockholm 1973 and Magdalene LaRow: The Iconography of Mary Magdalene. ed. the Titianesque Noli me tangere. With the author’s permission. Stockholm. bis ins 16. Saint Mary Magdalene and the ‘Noli me Tangere’ in Early Modern Italy (Ph. Six Exercises in Image Theory and Iconophilia. presents a theologicalphilosophical discourse on the Noli me tangere as paradox. we were able to consult: Lisa Marie Rafanelli: The Ambiguity of Touch. One Person. ‘to be in contact with something or someone’ or to ‘touch emotionally’ (both in a friendly and in an inimical way). Carmen Lee Robertson: Gender relations and the Noli me tangere scene in Renaissance Italy (Ph.. ed.3 The Greek verb haptein is the most general verb for touching. Institute of Fine Arts. Leuven 2006. exhibition catalogue. condensed. Jean Luc Nancy: Noli me tangere. 15.l. s.imageandnarrative. Essai sur la levée du corps. in: Image and Narrative.D. Diana Apostolos-Cappadonna: In search of Mary Magdalene. 1973). bis 17.D.l. Mary Magdalene. diss. also considers later examples of the Noli me tangere. Ottawa. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. ed.. almost frozen energy. Eine ikonographische Studie (Ph. The Vulgate rendered Me mou haptou as Noli me tangere.D. New York 2002. 3 For an overview of diffferent exegetical interpretations of this phrase. in: Topik und Tradition.. A Visual Analysis of the Noli me tangere.D. Images and Traditions. Even though the Latin verb tangere also has a broad spectrum of meanings (including ‘to enter or reach a place’).htm]. 1982). see Reimund Bieringer: ‘Noli me tangere’ en het Nieuwe Testament. University of Victoria. the victory over death and the fijinal union of Son and Father. The Evolution in Western Tradition until 1300 (Ph. http://www. by Barbara Baert/Reimund Bieringer/Karlijn Demasure/ Sabine Van den Eynde. Göttingen 2007..

Christ inclines toward Mary Magdalene and points to her. and/or Christ’s appearance to two myrrhophores. Ein Höhepunkt der Buchmalerei vor 1000 Jahren. 1) holds the opinion that the passage was deliberately neglected in the visual arts. The myrrhophores and the Chairete would ultimately provide the basic characteristics of later Noli me tangere iconography. III. 2). 1). depicting the encounter between Christ and Mary Magdalene. in: Bedae Venerabilis Opera pars II: Opera exegetica. The encounter between Christ and a single Mary (Magdalene) does not occur before 850. Lisa Marie Rafanelli 2004 (as in n. as in the lost Apostle sarcophagus (fijig. An exception would be a disputable Noli me tangere on the so-called Brivio capsella (a silver reliquary) from the early Christian VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 977-993). c. 33. Franz J. I thank Anastasia Keshman for this suggestion. 141). The Venerable Bede (672-735) adds the sister of Lazarus to this cluster. Mary Magdalene kneels near the tree-trunk. 6 It would be possible to read a convention which recalls the Holy of Holies (as for instance the Arc of the Covenant) in the symmetric position of the angels near the grave. The angels are watching and point toward both Christ and Mary Magdalene. in this period. p. ed. 24. the story of the Resurrection was depicted by showing the myrrhophores near the tomb. Turnhout 1960.326 Barbara Baert The Codex Egberti (Reichenau. Gregory the Great (560-604) identifijied Mary (Magdalene) as the sinner in Luke 7:36-50 for the fijirst time. namely the Chairete. wherein the women at the Sepulchre took hold of Jesus’ feet (Matthew 29:9). cod. Ronig: Erläuterungen zu den Miniaturen des Egbert Codex. Stuttgart 2005. Mary Magdalene’s bowing pose derives from the prototype of the Noli me tangere in early Christian and Carolingian art. p.5 The composition of the miniature in the Egberti Codex is divided in the middle by a slender tree. 413: Maria Magdalene ipsa est soror Lazari. 120). 7 Matthew 28:8-10.7 When we see Mary 4 Trier. Beda Venerabilis: In Marci Evangelium expositio. 5 However. on the one hand. by Raymond Etaix (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina. the Chairete on the other hand.indb 326 31-5-2012 10:35:45 . In his left hand he holds a book. Before the middle of the 9th century. he is the Logos. vol. pp. in the church of San Clemente in Rome. Das Leben Jesu. 591. Stadtbibliothek. The essential question is thus whether or not the particular passage in John was initially suppressed. Bede calls the sinner in Luke meretrix (and she is now also understood as the woman in the Noli me tangere). In his sermon of September 21. her arms extended in the direction of Christ’s feet. On the left is a simple representation of the tomb: an angel holding a stafff at each end of an empty sarcophagus. Turnhout 1960. vol. III. by David Hurst (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina. 78-188. illustrates the text of John 20:11-18 on the preceding folio 9 (fijig. Beda Venerabilis: In Lucae Evangelium expositio. Hubert Schiel: Codex Egberti der Stadtbibliothek Trier. Mary was already understood as a conflation of diffferent women mentioned in the gospels. and why. Gregorius Magnus: Homiliae in Evangelia. by David Hurst (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina. in: Der Egbert Codex. Basel 1960. Their function in the miniature is ‘deictic’: they split up and guide our gaze to the core of the depicted events.6 The winding sheet lies in the hollow of the tomb. ed. namely the secretive contact between Mary Magdalene and Christ. ed. 606. fol. in: Bedae Venerabilis Opera pars II: Opera exegetica. 91.4 The epigraphy refers to Mary as she is mentioned in John 20:16. hom. Turnhout 1999. 120).

c. 400. 2. so-called Apostle Sarcophagus. 1. Noli me tangere.Noli me tangere.indb 327 31-5-2012 10:35:45 . Narrative and Iconic Space 327 Fig. 91r Fig. 1659 (facsimile) VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. fol. Trier. 24. Stadtbibliothek. Roma subterranea novissima. Chairete. Roma Sotterranea. miniature from the Codex Egberti. Cod. Reichenau. 977-993. known from a 17th-century engraving in Antonio Bosio. 1651 and Paolo Aringhi. detail of the lost. c.

170. passim. 17-38. the Messiah. it divides the narrative episodes. pp. in: Jacob’s VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 3.11 In the context of Mary Magdalene. Baumsymbole in den Kulturen der Menschheit.10 But on a third level the tree evokes paradise. by Günter Klein. 72. 17. Stuttgart 1985. 1). Stephen Jerome Reno: The Sacred Tree as an Early Christian Literary Symbol. Moshe Barasch: Giotto and the Language of Gesture. 62. and in combination with Christ’s body language. 9 Gisela Jeremias: Die Holztür der Basilika S. and preserved in Paris. and is transferred by the early fathers of the church to Christ. The lignum of the cross must ‘rewrite’ the lignum of Genesis. 3). Festschrift für Erich Dinklers zum 70. p. Geburtstag. ed. the Great Chain of Being and Jacob’s Ladder. 165. see Galit Noga-Banai: The Trophies of the Martyrs. Cambridge 1987. p. which can be read as a response to the prohibition to touch. the tree supports time and space. Marion Leathers and Paul Grimley Kuntz: The Symbol of the Tree Interpreted in the Context of Other Symbols of Hierarchical Order. II. According to Athanasius. as for example in the medallion of the Shrine of Our Lady of Tournai. The tree has a multitude of functions. Tübingen 1980. Musée du Louvre. 38-61.9 The tree will indeed continue to form a signifijicant component of the Noli me tangere. Second. Armstrong: The Cross in the Old Testament. p. Gregory T. 106. fijig. 11 Tertullian (c. 150-215) says that the Tree of Life is Logos: the word becomes flesh: Stromata V. or axis mundi. the tree is also a narrative index. 10 Ezekiel describes the Tree of Life as a cosmic tree laden with countless fruit in the navel (omphalos/nucleus) of the world (31:3-10). 432) in Rome. p. In the history of gesture. Clement of Alexandria (c. Saarbrücken 1978. 115. Cyril of Jerusalem and the Cappodocian Father. Tübingen 1978. 11. An Art Historical Study of Early Christian Silver Reliquaries. in: Theologia Crucis—Signum Crucis. Haskins 1993 (as in n. it takes on a diffferent emotional meaning. even to the degree that it becomes a formal-artistic recipient for various emotions and their shifting interpretations across the history of art. Oxford 2008. 2. 240) formulates the opposition between the two trees in his Adversus Iudaeos as an idea fundamental to salvation. 160-c. the Noli me tangere constitutes an unusually powerful force fijield.8 The fragility of the tree is in perfect balance with the subtlety of the frozen psychological drama between the miniature’s four characters. bringing together the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. p. 1215 (fijig. the tree period. This is also clearly the case in the sober scene featuring the Chairete on the wooden door of Santa Sabina (c. p. c. As axis of the world.indb 328 31-5-2012 10:35:46 . He fijinds that what we have lost through Adam is regained through the wood of the cross of Christ. pp. where each of the three fijigures is separated from the others by a tree with big leaves (fijig. Sabina in Rom. 9). 4). Reno 1978 (as in n. Energetic inversion is the power of attraction that a gesture—natural or conventional—is capable of exerting over the collective memory of humanity. First. fijig.328 Barbara Baert Magdalene’s pose integrated in the context of Noli me tangere. 8 In his Giotto and the Language of Gesture. Gertrud Höhler: Die Bäume des Lebens. A Phenomenological Study (Forschungen zur Anthropologie und Religionsgeschichte. Moshe Barasch describes the creation of Noli me tangere as a particular example of ‘energetic inversion’. 4). however. It is pars pro toto for the setting of the garden in which the event takes place.

431/432. detail on the wooden doors.indb 329 31-5-2012 10:35:47 . 1205. Cathedral VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. Rome. medallion on the Shrine of Our Lady. Noli me tangere. 4. Narrative and Iconic Space 329 Fig. Tournai. 3. Chairete. Santa Sabina Fig.Noli me tangere.

the tomb of Christ aroused the desire of Mary Magdalene. Our second example. 800-1200.330 Barbara Baert clarifijies the typological connection to Eve. pp. pp. 13 Proskynesis is a frequently recurring motif in Byzantine art. Ursula Storm: Die Bronzetüren Bernwards zu Hildesheim (Ph. The trees are actually fruit-bearing grapevines. The suggestively crosswise-draped leaves enforce the association with Christ and his death on the cross. who holds a banner in his left hand. the tree surpasses its naturalistic dimension: it is neither green. diss.13 To the left is a bush-like tree with an eagle. The trees are surrounded by a vineyard: on the left. In the Codex Egberti. the Noli me tangere on the bronze gates of Bishop Bernward (993-1022) of the Church of Saint Michael in Hildesheim (10081015). Kunst und Volkskunde. it is barren. Gregory of Nyssa. 211-214. In this Noli me tangere. 319-334.indb 330 31-5-2012 10:35:47 . and the same bush. With his right palm he points toward Mary Magdalene. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. the eagle is Ladder and the Tree of Life. on the right. 14 On the central panel of the 10th-century ivory triptych from Harbaville (Paris. the fijigure of Mary Magdalene may refer to the archaic type of the Chairete. Freie Universität. The scene is the fijinal episode taken from biblical history and is located in the upper register of the right door (fijig. Berlin 1966. in: Patrologia Latina. 12 Hubert Schrade: Zu dem Noli me tangere der Hildesheimer Bronzetür. suggesting a city. 1966). this time accompanied by two eagles with spread wings. The crowns of the two trees meet at the intersection of the cross. Concepts of Hierarchy and the Great Chain of Being. Petrus Chrysologus (d.. nor brown. a well-known symbol for the sacrifijicial death of Christ.14 From Late Antiquity onward. Gregory of Nyssa (335-394) therefore says that the cross is an arbor mixtus. Ursula Mende: Die Bronzetüren des Mittelalters. Louvre). Munich 1983. goes even further in its attempts to develop advanced typological thinking. 450 c. a cross is duplicated in the form of two identical trees.D. 44. This means that the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge are united in this synthetic cross. ed. To the right of Christ is a gate. thereby referring to the clothing of the angels and Christ. the tree seems to be a reflection of the Logos. The scene contrasts with the fijirst scene in the cycle at the top left: the Creation of Eve. 59-64.) expresses this typology as follows (Sermo 74:3 and Sermo 77:4.12 The composition of the Noli me tangere is dominated by Christ. pp. 5).7): the Tree of Knowledge aroused Eve’s desire. by Marion Leathers/Paul Grimley Kuntz. but almost immaterially rendered in shades of white. see Anthony Cutler: Transfijigurations. New York/Paris 1987. 1961. Studies in the Dynamics of Byzantine Iconography. who almost reaches out to Christ in proskynesis. Augustine elaborates on the theme of the Fall and the weaker sex: Eve was the fijirst to lose God in paradise and Mary Magdalene is thus the fijirst to seek Him with greater desire after His death. Again. Berlin. in: Westfalen. In his Sermo 229L. Hefte für Geschichte. the vineyard bears flowers and fruit. Pennsylvania 1975. 39 (3).

Paris 1847. 1008-1015.indb 331 31-5-2012 10:35:47 . detail on the doors of Bernward of Hildesheim. 6-7.15 The eagle on Mary Magdalene’s side is passive. 5. apotheosis and the ascension. by Jacques-Paul Migne. Gabrielle Dufour-Kowalska: L’arbre de vie et la Croix. 15 The eagle is a creature of the sun. Manfred Lurker: s.Noli me tangere. Christ appears on a schematically represented mountain. depicted in heavenward flight. Michael seen as a symbol of victory. Adler. The eagle is also the attribute of John the evangelist. Stuttgart 1991. Narrative and Iconic Space 331 Fig. p. Church of St. Essai sur l’imagination visionnaire. Hildesheim. intr. by Jeanne Hersch. Noli me tangere. Geneva 1985. 18. One of His feet is lower than the ed. 64. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. fijig. in: Wörterbuch der Symbolik.v. p. the humble inertia of Maria Magdalene is combined with the rising of Christ. pp. the eagles on the side of Christ are active. In the bronze panel. 179.

ed. pp. 20 Ephraim (306-337) calls the mystery of the Resurrection the Last Now. The heavenly Jerusalem springs from the injunction against touch. p. I:. Replacing the conventional spade. 21. The Resurrection and the Visual Medium During the Middle Ages. and Christ is located in the untouchable sacrality of the mandorla. it is exclusively in the context of the Assumption—for example on the ivory by Master Liuthard (mid 9th century) now in Weimar. there is a marble reliquary from the fijifth century that shows a comparable scene (fijig. 41. vol.20 So. 18 When Christ assumes this pose in Carolingian models. whenever the last scene on the bronze doors has been seen. The Noli me tangere opens the door to the Last Things.18 Christ carries the banner as a reference to His victory over death. the heavenly Jerusalem? On the marble relief in Ravenna.16 In the Museo Arcivescovile in Ravenna. Berlin 1932. Festschrift J. again expressing the dynamics and the point at which His departure must take place. 66. a similar architecture appears on the right hand side. dynamic. fijig. 1930. Barbara Baert: Imagining the Mystery.332 Barbara Baert other. p. in: Resurrection in the New Testament. while God bears Him away to His heavenly destination.indb 332 31-5-2012 10:35:47 . 76. Lambrecht. 19 Rafanelli 2004 (as in n. A fijield of tension is created with Christ at the centre of two contradictory movements: the women—or earthly life—grasp at Him. as this would go against the normal logic of reading (from left to right). 16 Andrea Worm: Steine und Fuβspuren Christi auf dem Ölberg. Die Sinngehalte und Gestaltungsformen. pp. On the bronze door of Bernward. Die Auferstehung Christi. p. by Reimund Bieringer/Veronica Koperski/Bianca Lataire. 1) does not mention the building. the doors may open and admit the viewer to that heavenly Jerusalem that is the Church of Saint Michael itself. p. His right foot is on elevated ground. see also Schrade 1961 (as in n.19 Does this architecture instead refer to the place where Christ is going. As a result. Leuven 2002. 213. 213. 11). 2003. Hubert Schrade: Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst. Schrade refers to the Holy Sepulchre. 297-320. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 483-506. 17 Renato Baroccini: Una Capsella Marmorea Cristiana rinvenuta in Ravenna. The manus Dei appears from above and lifts His arm. in: Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte. though less explicit. Schrade 1961 (as in n. 2.17 The Chairete kneel longingly before Christ. in: Felix ravenna. Zu zwei ungewöhnlichen Motiven bei Darstellungen der Himmelfahrt Christi. 11). the viewer recognizes in the fijigure of Christ the suggestion of the impending Assumption. Christ moves with a similar. the banner emphasizes the triumph of Christ’s Resurrection. The gate behind Christ is probably not intended to represent the Holy Sepulchre. The legs and feet on the ivory are depicted as if in a vacuum. 6).

collega apostolorum. and influenced hymns. 1042-1075. Museo Arcivescovile Noli me tangere is concerned with Christ’s departure and Mary Magdalene’s need to fijind the strength to let Him go. 1963.21 This was also elaborated on in the influential Cluny-sermo. 23 Josef Szövérfffy: Peccatrix Quondam Femina. 3). ed. 25. London 2003. in: Marie Madeleine dans la mystique. Chairete. Narrative and Iconic Space 333 Fig. Dominique Iogna-Prat: ‘Bienheureuse polysémie’. amica Dei. Dominique Iogna-Prat: La Madeleine du ‘Sermo in veneratione sanctae Mariae Magdalenae’ attribué à Odon de Cluny. in: Traditio. 37-79. 22 Sermo in Veneratione Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae. o Christicole (“Who do you seek in the grave. 8. p. p. 1992. Maria poenitens. 19. 133. pp. pp. in: Mélanges de l’école française de Rome. on the authority of Augustine (354-430). as in the phrase Quem queritis in sepulchro. the feast-day of Mary Magdalene. 86: the earliest hymns arose in the 10th and 11th centuries in Burgundy. 923-934 and also known as the In veneratione Maria Magdalenae. meretrix impudica. p. O follow- 21 Sermo 246 and his Epistola 120. ed. 104 (1). VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 137. accepts that Noli me tangere is an explicit statement of the transformation of the belief in Christ as a human being into the belief in Christ as God. Roland J. by Jacques-Paul Migne. Bourges and southern Germany (where our Ottonian manuscripts were also created). Moyen Âge. pp. was a critical phase in the new ‘personality formation’ of Mary Magdalene. coll. La Madeleine du Sermo in veneratione Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae attribué à Odon de Cluny (Xe siècle). spona. detail of a marble relief. Victor Saxer: Un manuscrit décembré du sermon d’Etudes de Cluny sur Ste. 1067. written between c. pp. in: Scriptorium. ed. pp. Paris 1989.Noli me tangere. Teshe/Boniface Ramsey: Letters 100-155. 6. This line of reasoning was followed in Epistula 50 by Paulinus of Nola (355–431). Paris 1953. The Sermo. 21-31. by Matthias Skeb. les arts et les letters. A Survey of the Mary Magdalen Hymns. Ravenna. by Eve Duperray/Georges Dubuy. early 5th century. Paulinus von Nola (Fontes Christiani. in: Patrologia Latina. 713-721. Medieval and early modern exegesis. 79-146. pp. Freiburg 1998. 1954. fons. p.indb 333 31-5-2012 10:35:47 . 119-123. 129-140. soror apostolorum. Marie-Madeleine. Actes du colloque international Avignon 20-21-22 juillet 1988.22 The sermon was read on July 22. 92: the most important key words in the hymn are peccatrix.23 lauds and dramaturgical rites. Paulinus Nolanus: Epistulae.

The version in its original form is the text described above. which occurs in a manuscript in Sankt Gallen and dates to the middle of the 10th century (pp. ite. 116 (2). 202) Iesum Nazarenum crucifijixum. of the insight—the salutifera doctrina—attained by means of penitence and inner remorse. one prays to be able to ‘see’ the majesty of Christ-Sol.24 The connection between the sinner and the witness to the Resurrection that arose with Gregory the Great was now elaborated on in all its implications. Karl Young: The Drama of the Medieval Church. 25 For a feminist reading of this role of the Magdalene.334 Barbara Baert ers of Christ”). interprets this cyclical completion in the light of female protagonism and insight. Non est hic. p. and. moreover.26 The fact that the scene is on the fijinal panel of the cycle in the bronze doors opposite the Creation of Eve. surrexit sicut praedixerat. The internal pain is necessary for achieving and disseminating personal salvation. the Nazarene. 1997. o angels”). o caelicolae (“Jesus. the crucifijied. The dialogue form is inspired by choir songs from contemporary liturgy (pp. but also against the background of a symbolically represented Jerusalem (the tree.indb 334 31-5-2012 10:35:48 . the narrative space of Noli me tangere is a place where Salvation history becomes a perfect circle: the coming of the Son of God and the return of the Son to his Father.25 Mary Magdalene’s remorse is the necessary precondition for the revolution in the history of salvation after the Fall. Therefore. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. Mark 16:5-7 and Luke 24:4-6. she recognizes the assimilation of Father and Son and becomes the fijirst proclaimer of the Church. eagles. as He predicted. the gate and the mountain) where Son and Father are reunited. nuntiate quia surrexit de sepulchre (“He is not here. casts Noli me tangere as the completion of salvation history. in: Journal of Biblical Literature. The text in question is a dialogue (p. pp. According to the influential Sermo. but he that descended from heaven. from early examples in the visual arts onward. must be interpreted against the background of the historical Jerusalem of the empty tomb. 259-272. 26 Dominique Iogna-Prat 1992 (as in n. The content is derived from Matthew 28:5-10. With thanks to Isabelle Vanden Hove. Female Witness to the Resurrection. 56. Noli me tangere involves incarnation. In fact. see Claudia Setzer: Excellent Women. a church fragrant as the scent of her balsam. In the injunction against touch. Oxford 1933. 203-204). The Codex Egberti and the Hildesheim doors show how the Noli me tangere. the connection to the Incarnation was understood and recognized in commentaries on John 3:13: “No man hath ascended into heaven. go and announce that He has risen from the grave”). Mary Magdalene’s tears of remorse form the necessary tabula rasa for what she achieves in the Noli me tangere. 923-934. As a result. He is risen. the Noli me tangere is thus the ultimate goal of the revelation. in the mass of July 22. 21). the Son of man who is in 24 Known from a Limoges manuscript dating to c. 204-205).

indb 335 31-5-2012 10:35:48 . Rupture. Movement and Time The visual medium has its own conventions. 17b). 1099-1185. pp. p. Corporeal and Spiritual Vision in Early Medieval Images.28 According to this pilgrim.Noli me tangere. As such. Gaze. I will try to defijine this spatial perception in the textual. John 20. and in the visual. indeed. on the one hand. 27 Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg. whom he had taken from the Virgin”. disconnecting itself to some extent from the literary prototype. These diffferences. 28 John Wilkinson/Joyce Hill/W. 156142/KG 1136. and where Christ descended into hell. Below. is moreover clearly included in the text and image tradition of Noli me tangere (“Since I am not yet returned to my Father”. 25. 79. on the one hand. Narrative and Iconic Space 335 heaven”. marked in the pavement with two circles. by focussing on the concepts of gaze. ms. Noli me tangere is a temporal standstill. it is the same navel where Joseph of Arimethea washed the body of Christ. F. fol. transferring the literary source into the realm of sight. I will examine how the Jerusalem of the gospel (the tomb and Resurrection). The Pact between Place. In the Ottonian Codex Aureus from Nürnberg. Noli me tangere embodies a vertical movement. but also. it is at least remarkable that around the year 1160 John of Würzburg describes among others the omphalos near the Holy Sepulchre. In the next section. also touch upon our concern with the spatial perceptions of Noli me tangere. it expresses an axial energy in space. and the Jerusalem of iconography (the compositional language and the symbolic language of ascension and heavenly Jerusalem). relate to medium-specifijic spatial treatment in the Noli me tangere. II. 518-546. and the place is much venerated”. In that sense. 244. 523. It develops its own tradition. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. movement and time. London 1988. This was often emphasized by not only the body language of the ascending Christ. and this process of transformation between word and image. Ryan: Jerusalem Pilgrimage. the return to the Father to complete incarnation. Robert Deshman: Another Look at the Disappearing Christ. p. its own models. 112r.27 The idea of the Ascension. by the central tree. and he refers to it as the exact physical place where “after the resurrection the Lord is said to have appeared to Blessed Mary Magdalene. 1997. a spatial navel where the creation of the word and the flesh touch. in: The Art Bulletin. this was paraphrased in the context of the Ascension passage into: “God has received this man to himself. on the other hand. n. on the other.

Verbs of seeing proper are blepô: noticing the empty tomb (20:1.5). is very signifijicant. a link between the verbs of movement and the verbs of seeing. Leuven 2009. but they are governed by the semantics of the transmission of knowledge and love. Standing. Mutual Gazing as an Amatory Motif in Western Literature and Art. Stuttgart 2000. ed. ed. pp. London 1957. TextImmanent Repetitions and Variations in John 20:1-18”. p. Kerstin Schulmeyer: Evangeliar Otto’s III. theôreô ‘to observe something with continuity and attention. If we look at the iconography of Noli me tangere. in: Studies in the Fourth Gospel. 7). 91-92. 83-96. 251. by Gilbert Van Belle (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium. bending over 20:5. 10 (1) 1986. 31 Jan Bremmer: Walking. I. pp. 2139. Text-Immanent Repetitions and Variations in John 20:1-18.18). in: The Four Gospels 1992. vol. Joost Smit Sibinga: Towards Understanding the Composition of John 20. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. see G. by Frans Van Segbroeck et al. Text. In iconography. in: Europas Mitte um 1000. Nevertheless it remains clear that the verb of seeing. Phillips: Faith and Vision in the Fourth Gospel. L.11) forms a Klammer.12. pp. pp.14) and horaô (esp.. Robert Baldwin: ‘Gates Pure and Shining and Serene’. In contrast to everyday life.indb 336 31-5-2012 10:35:48 . in view of its frequency. Style. III. Das Evangeliar Otto III Clm 4453 der bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München. 10. by Jan Bremmer/Herman Roodenburg. pp. but transformed according to the possibilities and limits of image-language.30 Unfortunately. fol. New York 1993. ed. by Frank Leslie Cross.336 Barbara Baert In his recent exegetical study ” ‘They have taken away my Lord’. which means a signifijicant loss of the nuances in John’s authentic Greek text. glances do not meet accidentally. 998-1000) involves these aspects of the eye-contact between Mary Magdalene and Christ (fijig. Festschrift Frans Neirynck.. 30 Ibid.29 The verb parakyptô or inclinasset (inspect. 23-49. Munich 1978. perfect: heôraka) is seeing the risen Christ with the eyes of faith (20:8.31 The Noli me tangere of the gospel of Otto III (Reichenau. vol. ed. pp. Interpretation. in: A Cultural History of Gesture. Reimund Bieringer analysed the linguistic frequency and intensity of words for seeing.32 The 29 Reimund Bieringer: ‘They have taken away my Lord’. 609-630. Clm 4453. 32 Munich. often with the implication that what is observed is something unusual’ is used for looking carefully at the gardener (20:6. Leuven 1992. On the intensity of seeing and its relationship to believing. pp. 15-35. we notice how the importance of seeing is well recognized. in the Vulgate—the main version for medieval artists and their patrons—these three terms for sight were all translated with the verb videre. “Horaô expresses a seeing that transcends the mere physical seeing to a seeing with the eyes of faith and thus forms the climax of the pericope”. in: Repetitions and Variations in the Fourth Gospel. p. eye-contact in the world of the image is never a matter of coincidence. and Sitting in Ancient Greek Culture. 223). in: Renaissance and Reformation. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 2139-2152. 456-457.

Signete. Noli me tangere. The left hand of Mary Magdalene and the right hand of Christ reflect one another. the winding sheet and the bowing. Clm 4453. Her hand moves upwards. fol. Narrative and Iconic Space 337 Fig.indb 337 31-5-2012 10:35:48 . einer Bewegung. 6. fijig. pp. the architectural tomb with two angels. Symbole. the miniaturist sought to add greater cosmic force to his depiction of the Son of Man’s resurrection. in: Der Mensch und seine Zeichen. Munich. his downwards. the psychological reverberation of the exchange of glances is underscored by the play of hands. als Bestätigung eines sehr früh erwachten Gefühls für die zentrale Bedeutung der Sonne für alles Leben” from: Adrian Frutiger: Zeichen. By using this universal. 7. In this miniature. miniature from the Evangelary of Otto III.Noli me tangere. Their hands point to the particular moment of engagement between Christ and Mary Magdalene. vol. The wheel also implies the Trinity. p. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. III. 73. wahrscheinlich im Zusammenhang mit dem Ablauf auf der Sonnenbahn […] Die Strahlung ist sowohl innerhalb wie ausserhalb der Kreise gezeichnet […] In den meisten SonnenSymbolen kommt eine deutliche Betonung des Begrifffs ‘Mitte’ zum Ausdruck. 33 In this instance. 998-1000.33 The involvement of the angels is also striking in this respect. that of the sun. This shape is graphically connected to an intercultural archetype in the history of form—namely. the one on the right to Christ. “Die Andeutung einer Rotation. as such they almost form a closed bowl. The angel on the left looks to Mary. 251r element of opposition. Wiesbaden 1981. symbolic form for the winding sheet. the winding sheet appears as a wheel with three intertwining segments. humble Mary Magdalene return as a pattern. 72-74. Signale.

The hands often constitute the compositional centre of the Noli me tangere scene: ‘the central tension of the image’ (Georges Didi-Huberman).v. 602. Where the tactile sense is barred. in: Dictionnaire des symboles. one can put it as Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant once wrote it: “La main est parfois comparée à l’œil: elle voit”. 599-603. In fact.37 A second important result of Bieringer’s “Text-Immanent Repetitions and Variations in John 20:1-18” is his attention to the rupture in the narrative at verse 11 concerning action and movement. 36 Georges Didi-Huberman: Fra Angelico. 233249.338 Barbara Baert The injunction against touch is subtly entwined in their fijingers and pointed to by the angels as the moment of all moments. sight is heightened. The noun to mnêmeion or ‘the tomb’ (in the vulgate translated in monumentum) occurs for the last time in 20:11.indb 338 31-5-2012 10:35:48 . see in this regard: Niklaus Largier: ‘tactus spiritualis’. It is here that the big distances have to be covered. ‘Touch me not’ echoes in ‘Touch me with your eyes’. The spell that hangs over the movement of this pericope (20:1118) is only broken after it has reached its climax in Jesus prohibiting even the small movement that Mary seems to make in coming close to him (me mou haptou or Noli me tangere in 20:17). Chicago 1995. The physical pathos discussed above plays a crucial role in this. Main. et les sens spirituels au Moyen Âge. in: Micrologus. by Brian Holmes. Remarques sur le toucher. the tomb is the point of reference to which and from which all the movement occurs. The emotional impact of the prohibition on touching must be clear to the spectator at a single glance.35 The ban on touching conserves all energy for the gaze. pp. The tomb progressively recedes into the background and Jesus comes to the fore. p. Dissemblance and Figuration. pp. Desire and prohibition also lie in the pairs of hands. Jean Luc Nancy: The Birth to Presence. Verbs of extended movement are found almost exclusively in 20:1-10. p. ed. The dynamism of the movement is regained when Jesus announces his moving up to the Father (anabainoo or ascendi in 20:17) and sends Mary back to his brothers. 14. When the move34 This concerns the dynamics between diffferent senses. 13. p. 2005: La pelle umana—The Human Skin. the visual language of the Noli me tangere is mostly a matter of hands. therefore redefijines the Noli me tangere as a Noli me frangere. and trans. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. Stanford 1993. Paris 2002. 37 This is the hand that withdraws and indicates at the same time. 35 Jean Chevalier/Alain Gheerbrant: s. 275. or even more: the tension between the lower materiality of touch and the higher spirituality of seeing. Before verse 11. Verbs expressing limited movement and verbs expressing virtually no movement (also called stances) are concentrated in 20:11-18.36 The almost-touching takes place in a deictic void. la volupté.34 Or.

I am currently developing an article on the impact of the reading directions and inversions in Noli me tangere. Body and Embodiment in ‘Noli me tangere’. the shift from tomb to Christ and the increasing intensity of the gaze. p. 32 (3). pp. In verse 16. pp. 1).38 In some cases. As such. 36-61. Verse 14 says that Mary Magdalene turns her back when she answers the angels just before seeing Christ for the fijirst time. “Über Wiederholung […] wird die Notwendigkeit einer inneren. we notice that these decreasing movements and the shift from the tomb to Christ are marked by the iconographic convention of the twofold composition with the Sepulchre on the left and the Noli me tangere event on the right. If we return to the transformations of spatial movement in the visual medium. 1). but marks the Sepulchre as an element to 38 There are some examples of inversions. Summarizing. This is the moment when she recognizes her master. 58. This textual and iconographic rupture in localization is emphasized by another feature that is marked in the text as well as in the image. in: Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek.Noli me tangere. is about to reach its fulfijilment. and the Noli me tangere becomes an autonomous tomb-detached scene. in: Louvain Studies. the passage ‘before verse 11’ is eliminated. The Noli me tangere is dismantled from its setting. Mary Magdalene turns a second time. The left and right positions suggest the temporal and narrative reading direction. Rafanelli 2004 (as in n. hier jedoch auch als konkret äusserlich zu vollziehende Wendung vom falschen zum richtigen Objekt betont”. briefly interprets the inversion as a deliberate move to shift the visual emphasis: the viewer now concentrates on Mary Magdalene’s perspective. 2007. and loses its connotation with the ‘there and then’ evoked by the tomb. on the empathy with Mary Magdalene. 1000). pp. Contributions to the History of the Motif in Western Europe (ca. 213 also interprets the double ‘conversion’ as a sign of the Magdalene’s inner conversions. p. 255-303. 39 Tarnow 2007 (as in n. Barbara Baert/Liesbet Kusters: The Twilight Zone of the ‘Noli me tangere’.39 The dorsal position of Mary Magdalene toward the Sepulchre strengthens the polarity in the composition. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. The Latin phrase literally means ‘to turn around (with a dynamic sometimes to flee) in a backwards way (which means the phrase is double stressed)’. 205. the movement is abruptly called to a for this see Barbara Baert: The Gaze in the Garden. seeing her Rabbouni.indb 339 31-5-2012 10:35:48 . 51-53. the narrative membranes show us the decreasing movements. she doesn’t recognize him yet: conversa et retrorsum et videt Iesum. 400 . Narrative and Iconic Space 339 ment toward Jesus. which is the driving force of the pericope since 20:1 (fijirst covering long distances and moving with speed in 20:1-10 and then being focused on one place and moving very slowly in 20:11-18). and the protagonists are seen moving in opposite directions.

This new pact leaves the importance of the spot.41 The new paradigm of untouchable visibility glorifijies sight into insight and generates a transformation from the historical and objectifijied locus. “I am not yet ascended to the Father”.indb 340 31-5-2012 10:35:49 . A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies. I (California studies in the history of art. taking into consideration the second phrase of verse 17. p. going up—expressed in his twisted 40 The idea of the backwards position is explained by Mellinkofff as a sign of outcast. pp.340 Barbara Baert forget. pp. the contortion or the contrapposto. in the conversa et retrorsum indeed. 13-35. 2). in: Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America 2006. The story of Thomas relies on the verifijication principle of the tactile sense and the testis argument. Ruth Mellinkofff: Outcasts. 67-91. p. Lisa Marie Rafanelli: Seeking Truth and Bearing Witness. 37. but she still had to integrate the insight into the cycle of the Resurrection by renouncing an overly narrow physical concept: the human body of Christ. In the Noli me tangere Christ is stepping out of the visual world in order to make space for the visible invisibility. as it were. he feels and believes on the basis of a touch that satisfijies him. Signes of Otherness in Northern European Art of the late Middle Ages. On the visual level. in: The Art Bulletin. on the meanings of the twisted motion. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. the garden (the narrative) to the Noli me tangere as a locus beyond (the iconic). behind in favour of another Jerusalem: the Jerusalem of the untouchable yet visible body. The men of Emmaus do not recognise Christ by his voice. Consequently. of which there are variations. in favour of the next to come: the phase of the gaze and. 220-222. this new paradigm also involves our concept of movement. in: Comitatus. a new pact is made: the pact between place and gaze. the sepulchre. 32-64. In the shift from the Sepulchre to the body of Christ. The Noli me tangere and Incredulity of Thomas on Tino di Camaiano’s petroni Tomb (1313-1317). negate. I don’t think this idea is relevant for the Noli me tangere. Tarnow connects the position of Mary Magdalene to contorsio: an aesthetic concept that (at least during the Renaissance) embodies inner conversion. the emptiness. 1989. Schneiders: Touching the Risen Jesus. Berkeley 1993. Noli me tangere is therefore more than the story of Thomas. It has already been mentioned that in iconography. 71 (1). recognition . fijinally. 450. pp. 32). but by the dramatic action of the breaking of the bread (see fijig. nor by touch. Precisely in the energy of these zones we merely touch upon the deepest epistemology of Noli me tangere: the threshold between presence and absence. see also Mary Pardo: The Subject of Savoldo’s Magdalene. where Thomas does touch the body of the Risen Christ. For a further elaboration. pp. Mary Magdalene and Thomas the Twin in John 20.40 Noli me tangere is. Christ is not only depicted in contrasting dynamics—going away. because the fijirst passage also explicates the meaning of the incarnation. 2006. Mary Magdalene already believed (why would she need to touch?). Alternatively. see Sandra M. an iconic turn. this locus pulsates in energy zones between the hands and eye-contact. turn your back on. ibid. 41 This paradigm contrasts with the passage of John 20:24-31. When Thomas touches the wound. 446. vol.

the phrase is to be understood as an action in progress. but also of time. Tübingen 2008. 209-235. 154. as for example on the Hildesheim doors. of his eternal fusion with God. pp. Koester/Reimund Bieringer (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. a fraction. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb). 2001. in: The Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of John. 149-164. This transformation also takes place on the level of temporal perception. while it was still dark. Resurrection and Ascension in the Gospel of John. and where Christ will become the already mentioned visible invisibility. Christ deflects the attention from himself.indb 341 31-5-2012 10:35:49 . in: Angelaki. This would underline an interpretation that Christ cannot be approached because his body is—in a theological sense—the temple. […] Who would dare to speak of the event’s time? Who would say of it. the transforming body reveals itself: it is Christ’s body but also Christ’s altering body which is not yet ascended to the Father.43 All this leads us to our fijinal concept: time. I would recognize this stand-still both in the mysterious zone between the hands and in the mutual gazing. Bieringer 2008 (as in n. The disappearance to open the access contrasts with the ‘mission of movement’ of Mary Magdalene in verse 18: she should turn away from Christ to bring the message. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1.44 Noli me tangere is an iconography of direct speech.42 Moreover. but the way that the moment of Noli me tangere is ‘captured’ in the image. by Craig R. 45 Zsusza Baross: Noli me tangere for Jacques Derrida. Narrative and Iconic Space 341 body and/or opposite feet. 6 (2). ed. for how long? By what measure of time could we measure time. 44 I am not referring to the time frame of the events as such (John 20:1: Early on the fijirst day of the week. In a theological sense. An important connotation of going up to the heavenly Jerusalem lies in the ascending (anabainoo). glorious mad scenario that unfolds in John’s Gospel as stage takes place right on the limit. for the Noli me tangere stands at the gate of Christ’s departure. p. Exactly at the borders of the Noli me tangere. The visualisation of these three words depicts a given moment in time. but also the fijinal ‘destination’ of the ascending Christ is evoked in the representation or symbols of the heavenly Jerusalem. 41). this fraction afffijirms a transformation. Me mou haptou means ‘not coming close to the Holy of Holies’. on the threshold of the empty tomb. to my God and your God’ (John 20:17). Philosopher and Derrida expert Zsuzsa Baross writes the following: “The impossible. this fijinal movement in Noli me tangere is the undertaking of a heavenly pilgrimage that will fijinally open God’s house. passim. pp. In other words. 43 This deflection is supported by the Greek word order me mou haptou.Noli me tangere. Journal of the theoretical humanities. 222). At the same time. of death. this time?”45 On the visual level. which both 42 Reimund Bieringer: ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father.

and God becomes their Father and their God. 159-164. Christ is carrying a rake in his other hand. Fra Angelico would not have been able to paint his famous version without Puccio (plate XIII). I will discuss how the zones ‘beyond’ can be connected to the idea of thresholds and interspaces. is walking away from her with a dramatic gesture. Thresholds. Mary Magdalene is kneeling before Christ. The background is cut offf by the dark depths of a forest.47 The fresco in Santa Trinità is painted in a recess of the vault of the funerary monument for the Strozzi family. with her hair untied and wearing a simple red dress. 41. we can see the open tomb in a cave. and the almost cave-like tomb are typical. 2). 47 Rafanelli 2004 (as in n.342 Barbara Baert belong to another temporal order than the natural order. There is a strong afffijinity with the Giottesque Noli me tangere in the Cappella scrovegini in Padua. Christ has to open the door to God for the believers. on the one hand. 8). dedicated to Santa Lucia. Eve Borsook: The Mural Painters of Tuscany from Cimabue to Andrea del Sarto. She is wearing a red dress. but came to the fore in the mystic waves of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The ascetic personality of Mary Magdalene. The earlier Noli me tangere by Giotto in Assisi and Padova are part of a cyclical context. fijig. on the other.indb 342 31-5-2012 10:35:49 . 26. dressed in a white tunic. this Mary Magdalene is influenced by contemporary sources describing her as bride. III. To the left. is considered to be the oldest autonomous Noli me tangere on a large scale (fijig. and as penitent. for example in 46 Bieringer 2006 (as in n. Oxford 1980. In fact. 1). in Santa Trinità in Florence. While his body and feet are already turned away from her. The idea of the bride or the Beata Dilectrix Christi is as old as the patristics. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. his thumb almost touches Mary Magdalene’s index fijinger. both to the north and south of the Alps. Christ. p. 146. Interspaces and the Hereafter in Puccio di Simone’s “Noli me Tangere” The Puccio di Simone fresco of 1340. In the case study below. Rafanelli 2004 (as in n. Her hair is golden-blonde and hangs untied. This scene by Puccio di Simone is prefijigurative for a vast iconographic tradition in Italy. pp. 1). parallel to the way that the spatial aspect of Noli me tangere is beyond real space. In accordance with John’s style. p. Baross’s reflection makes it clear that time in Noli me tangere is not a chronology. p.46 but rather a ‘beyond-time’. 20 also defends the position that the four exegetes and biblical theologians puzzling combination of the Noli me tangere and the not-yet-ascending in verse 17 is to interpreted literary-theologically rather than chronologically.

in which the bride seeks her lover. p. ed. was recognised 48 Mechtilde von Hackeborn (d. This monologue is described by Mechtilde on Magdalene’s saint’s day. Zwolle s. 1298)48 and Catharine of Siena (1347-1380). after she wept at Simon’s house: “Go in peace” (Vade in pace). particulary verses 3:1-4. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. and trans. Narrative and Iconic Space 343 Fig. 8. That is why Christ said to her. 119-129. ed. Mechtilde von Hackeborn: Het boek der bijzondere genade.a. Noli me tangere. 49 Caroline Walker Bynum: Formen weiblicher Frömmigkeit im Späteren Mittelalter. Bonn 2005. Mary’s love was overwhelming and extremely strong.indb 343 31-5-2012 10:35:50 . Puccio di Simone. 1298) (later “from Helfta” in Saxony) describes in her visions how the wounds and the tears of Mary Magdalene became the ultimate grace for the union with Christ.. Kunst aus mittelalterlichen Frauenklöstern.49 The relationship between John 20 and the Song of Songs. by Richard Louis Jean Bromberg. pp. 1340.Noli me tangere. Mechtilde concludes her passage on the love of Mary Magdalene with a monologue in which Magdalene asks the reader to do penance and to follow her in shedding tears of true spiritual love and joy. Santa Trinità the work of Mechtild von Hackeborn (d. by Jefffrey Hamburger. Florence. 412. in: Krone und Schleier. the lover. Then God will forgive.

101. 219-239. pp. Leuven 1965. See also: Victor Saxer: Marie Madeleine dans le commentaire d’Hippolyte sur le cantique des cantiques. Noli me tangere.”. 50 In canticum canticorum. 76 (3). Leuven 2006. she wants to take him to her mother’s room for an intimate encounter.indb 344 31-5-2012 10:35:50 . pp. in: The Embroidery Antependium of Wernigerode. A Plea for an Intertextual Interpretation of Mary Magdalene. c. Gérard Garitte: Traités d’Hippolyte sur David et Goliath.52 The intertextuality with the Song of Solomon was spread by the Apocrypha and the Biblia Pauperum. One Person. Germany. exhibition catalogue. ed. Florence. 51 Sabine Van Den Eynde: ‘Do not hold on to me’. “the Song of Songs colours in the relationship between woman and man as a seeking and fijinding. 1-14. Where the seeking and fijinding in John 20 culminates in the emotion of letting go. sur le cantique des cantiques et sur l’antéchrist—version Géorgienne (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium. p. Fra Angelico. 1445. by Barbara Baert et al.. pp. in: Revue bénédictine.344 Barbara Baert Plate XIII.51 The passage was included in the liturgy of the saint’s day on 22 July. Mary Magdalene and Female Religiosity in the 13th Century. cell 1 by Hippolytus of Rome (d. Mary Magdalene. Many Images. 264). in: Konsthistorisk tidskrift. 25. 45-49. 52 I developed the impact of mysticism and the mulieres religiosae on the Noli me tangere. in: Noli me tangere. 11. 235). VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 147-167. 1991.50 When the watchmen show the bride the way. San Marco. 2007. as a grasp in order to hold. pp.

96. written in thirteenth-century Provence. the Noli me tangere is staged near the sepulchre. In the Paupers’ Bible. that does not die. 388-412. see Augustine: In epistulam Iohannis ad Parthos tractatus decem..indb 345 31-5-2012 10:35:50 . he warded me offf. 111-115. the lacrymological female sex. in: Augustiniana. p. On Petrus Chrysologus.54 Jerusalem is presented as an interspace with the paradise metaphor and the garden allegory of love. c. see Piroska Nagy: Le don des larmes aux moyen âge. the watersource of paradise. especially in the North. the weeping. 55 See Baert 2007 (as in n. 481-488. Paris 1841. pp. Un instrument spirituel en quête d’institution. ed. With thanks to Anthony Dupont and Ward De Pril: Marie-Madeleine et Jean 20. and the encounter and embrace of the bride and bridegroom of the Song of Solomon (Song 3. Sermo 76. and Hieronymus: Epistulae LXXI-CXX (Corpus Scriptorium Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. Milan 1996/1997. expresses her great love for Christ in a monologue. beyond death and the grave. In the stage directions of the Paschal plays. the insight-generating impact of the Noli me tangere is radicalised to such an extent that Mary Magdalene has to pass through death. he said. 55). ‘Do not touch me’. Narrative and Iconic Space 345 A Canticle of Mary Magdalene. 2006. pp. respectively. Sermoni. points us the way to a happiness that is great without end and durable without end”.Noli me tangere. Virginia 1972. denies that the garden would suggest a dramaturgical setting. embraced the master. p. if I was to be at one with love.55 The motif of the hedge or the walled garden owed its meaning to the context of spiritual intimacy and became a metaphor for the bride. pp. 450) states that Mary Magdalene personifijies the bride and Ecclesia. by Jacques-Paul Migne. Fletcher Collins: The Production of Medieval Church Music-Drama. 1998. coll. Mary Magdalene. p. 35. This role of Ecclesia comes to the fore in the paradox of the refusal by Christ. but situational and local: the Noli-locus VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. incorporates liquefaction. pp. the Biblia Pauperum. But he said: ‘Do not touch me!’ And I understood that I must die. But already Lazarus lay in my arms. We will in fact fijind many Noli me tangere iconographies. On Augustine and Jerome. 1977-2002.17 dans la littérature patristique latine. in: Patrologia Latina. 56. weeping for joy” (ibid. ” ‘Mary!’. but. 54 In this prefijigurative context it is also worth mentioning that Mary Magdalene wears as early as the 10th century hymns the epitheton of Fons vitae. pp. 59. 470-515. 37-61. And I recognised the Master and rushed to him. 56 The walled garden also enhances the reality content of the scene. so that she can be ‘resurrected’ in everlasting love and wisdom. like him. he said. col. Ve-XIIIe siècle. That’s why the refusal to touch is not considered as principle (with exception of some misogynous interpretations in Ambrose). 92). She is fluid. 4) (see supra) on the other hand (fijig. Brunklaus: Het Hooglied van Maria Magdalena. Petrus Chrysologus (d. 37). Vienna 1996.53 Here. fijilled with gratitude. to embrace him. 2-3 see Gabriele Banterle: Opere di San Pietro Crisologi. 9). the Noli me tangere is connected to Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6:19-24) on the one hand. “And I. 159-182. but with one look from his eyes. pp. Paris 2000. together with Christ. Maastricht 1940.56 53 Frans A. where the idea of the enclosed garden is essentially linked to the visual intertext. The Noli me tangere is also fijitted in with the Raising of Lazarus.

104 (1). He compares the Mary of John 20 with Eve: the fijirst sin was committed by a woman. the bride Mary Magdalene is also referred to as the Beata peccatrix. she does not possess the capacity to comprehend Christ in His resurrected and divine form. converted the people of the Provence and withdrew to the wilderness of Sainte-Baume where she lived as a hermit. Mary Magdalene became the sinful and penitent woman: sermons in Florence emphasized her as an exemplum for laywomen. per os mulieris vita reparatur. hence. pp. died. 15th-century. which tells us how Mary Magdalene went ashore in Marseille. Biblia Pauperum. 57 Along with the spread of the Vézelay cult from the 11th century onwards. 9. The Vita apostolica was distributed in VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 345. Edition de trois pièces majeures. where her head relic is still kept. pp. 64). Bibliothèque nationale de France Besides. 1992. in: Sancti Ambrosi Opera 6 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. Moyen Âge. The Mary in the Noli me tangere may not touch Christ because. 2). Vienna 1999.indb 346 31-5-2012 10:35:50 . 24.346 Barbara Baert Fig. at that moment. and was buried in Saint-Maximin. The annunciation to the apostles is the restitution of the fijirst sin: per os mulieris mors ante processerat. Especially in the context of the mendicant orders. 163-180. the vita eremetica is expanded into a Vita apostolica. Guy Lobrichon: Le dossier magdalénien aux XIe-XIIe siècle. in: Mélanges de l’école française de Rome. edition of this Vita.57 as in the fourteenth-century panel marks the move to a phase between the ascension of Jesus and his return. Ambrose extrapolates the Noli me tangere in his Expositio into a noli manum adhibere maioribus: an injunction against instruction. 164-169. Paris. the fijirst person to see the Resurrected Christ will also be a woman. p. and presented her as the true incarnation of faith. Ambrosius Mediolanensis: Explanatio psalmorum XII (25. In iconography the episode of her starvation in Sainte-Baume with long hair became very popular.

indb 347 31-5-2012 10:35:51 . pp. yet ascetic lover. 35). ed. 362-363. there is a contrast between the cultivated garden in front and the wild the Legenda Aurea by Jacobus de Voragine. painted by Pietro Cavallini (14th century). Ferdinando Bologna: I pittori alla corte angioina di Napoli. Beauchesne 1989. Mary Magdalene was more and more ambiguously typecast as the voluptuous. Narrative and Iconic Space 347 painting and mural paintings. The Meditationes Vitae Christi are written in the context of this perception of intimicay. but He acted thus […] as I said. The cave-like tomb foreshadows this anachorete afterlife in the caves of Provence. Bibliothèque Nationale.59 Nevertheless. she looked at him closely. as in the San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. Jerusalem is presented in a second interspace of poverty and the ideal of the hermit. in: Marie Madeleine dans la mystique. Princeton (New Jersey) 1961. Princeton 1995. Green (Princeton monographs in art and archaeology. vol. but also the embodiment of the closest and most intimate possible contact with God. In both Puccio di Simone’s and in Fra Angelico’s fresco. 273-288. beware of our tears” in a poem. p. Princeton 1999. love and starvation. by Eve Duperray. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. 115. 59 Ibid. 1260. pp. as the elected. ed. This whole context is too vast and not primordial enough for my focus here. 130-131. because he wished to elevate her soul to things of heaven (and not of earth)”. The author narrates about the Noli me tangere: “And they stayed together lovingly with great joy […]. The Golden Legend.60 and who had great admiration for Mary Magdalene. beautiful. 375.61 Concerning this historical characterization of Mary Magdalene in Tuscany. as the bride and anachorete. The Noli me tangere of Puccio di Simone and Fra Angelico are to be situated in that Zeitgeist: we see a Mary who is already the Magdalene of the penitent. An illustrated manuscript of the 14th century. by William Granger Ryan. Katherine Ludwig Jansen: The Making of the Magdalen. is completely in accord with the image of Mary Magdalene sustained by the mendicants. “sweet friend of God. Jacobus de Voragine. Ms. Readings on the Saints. Marie-Madeleine dans l’oeuvre de François Pétrarque: image emblématique de la Belle Laure. I. 1266-1414. I can hardly believe that she did not touch him familiarly. 58 See also the influence of the Anjou family on this type of Iconography. Rome 1969. 61 Meditations on the life of Christ. les arts et les lettres. 115-146. Paris. by Isa Ragusa and Rosalie B. […]. I wish to mention Petrarca (1304-1373) who calls her Dulcis amica dei/lacrymis inflectere nostris. Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages. ital. 60 Eve Duperray: Le Carmen de Beata Maria Magdalena. pp. by Isa Ragusa. yet sufffering and weeping penitent. Petrarca considered her not only an intercessor and mediatrix. transl. pp.Noli me tangere. The fact that the setting is also very much inspired by the ecclesia primitiva.58 This new role has to be understood in the context of the intensifijication of the place of confession in everyday life and in the personal guide to salvation and perfection. completed from the Latin and ed.

we look through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. whether they be […] those who saw him in the flesh. The Biblical Experience of The Desert in the History of Christianity and the Paradise Theme in the Theological Idea of the University. which is much related to the characteristic of the Mediterranean landscape. caves) also refers to the spirited cult of the anchorites. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1.62 This contrasts the interspaces of the seeking bride and mourning hermit with the hidden space of the Unheimlichkeit. See Barbara Baert: An unknown cross-legend in the grotto church of Andria. This spirituality.348 Barbara Baert woods in the background. to grasp and understand the Divine completely.’ (Matthew 5:8) is indeed a central phrase in these reflections on spiritual seeing”. This opposition might also express the threshold between here and hereafter. see also George Hunston Williams: Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought. We. 536. Christ steps out of this world toward the hereafter. New York 1962. as Mary Magdalene fijirst perceived Christ with physical eyes—the body of Rabbouni—. These transitions of corporeal sight into spiritual vision are important dynamics in medieval exegesis on sight and insight as early as Beda Venerabilis. Noli me tangere enables that transformation by also making its pact between space and our own gaze. the beholders. This makes the locus of Noli me tangere interactive with us. the inch of space between a thumb and a fijinger is pars pro toto for the greatest gap in the history of salvation: the transition from Christ’s physical visibility to his invisibility. between the visible and the invisible. 26). is the door ajar. Taking up these issues here would lead me too far astray for my present purposes. p. Once more. the nearest one can get to see God. and only then with the eyes of faith—the resurrected body. In his Homily 11:15. First Results on the iconographical tradition in a Mediterranean context. share in the most benevolent promise of his in Matthew: ‘Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God. or those who believe after his Ascension. As beholders of the Noli me tangere scene. the dark unknown. is found in Italy in the southern parts of the Laure or in grotto churches. mountains. stepping into the diffferent interspaces of Jerusalem. in preparation for Critica d’Arte. gaining insight in the bodily concepts of one man. a split that is—as we saw already in the early medieval examples—essential in the Noli me tangere event. Deshman 1997 (as in n. he says: “For indeed all those who believe. as such Christ steps out of the world of the image into the world of the invisible. The deictic void between the hands so small that it is almost unbearable.indb 348 31-5-2012 10:35:51 . too. Though impossible in this life—there will always be a Noli-zone as there always will be a veil—this can be reached in death after 62 It is known that the wilderness (the desert. 63 Homilia 11:15. must go beyond corporeal sight.63 From this ultimate scopic point of view. It is important to include landscape profijiles and their spiritual connotations in research of narrative spaces.

And. to the expectation of this ultimate joy. Narrative and Iconic Space 349 passing the dark woods. It is a place translocated in other climates. For is it not indeed remarkable that the painting is connected to the great patron saint of sight and light? Conclusion It is well known that Jerusalem is a poly-semantic concept. refers in its essence to the visio beata. it is hard to avoid Jerusalem in the Middle Ages. was discussed from 1331 onwards in terms of whether this would be enjoyed by souls only at the one hand. but an upgraded Heavenly Jerusalem. In this essay. picture or icon? Jerusalem is a historical place with its history of events. passim. The beatifijic vision. all these layers are in one way or another interconnected. As such the Noli me tangere accomplishes creation. Jerusalem was not merely the Jerusalem of the setting near the tomb. using conventional symbols like the tree. apex and goal. This papal sermon had an enormous impact. map. a place transmitted in objects and relics. In that regard. in the core of its mystery—the forbidden touch—new spatial concepts according to Jerusalem’s inception in medieval thought were unveiled. performatively speaking. Should we consider Jerusalem as a story. It is the place narrated in miniatures. According to Pope John XXII. Noli me tangere is of course strongly rooted in the Jerusalem of the gospel. 289). but Jerusalem is also a place in heaven.Noli me tangere. Some of these concepts came to the fore at the level of the image.64 Noli me tangere. seeing the resurrected body on Christ’s way back to God. 64 Christian Trottmann: La vision béatifijique. Des disputes scolastiques à sa défijinition par Benoît XII (Bibliothèque des Ecoles Françaises d’Athènes et de Rome. to make things complete.indb 349 31-5-2012 10:35:51 . and going hereafter into the light of the face of God: the beata visio. of the commemoration of the event. only the latter could be the case. fulfijils incarnation. As the text in the Gospel of John says—“I am not yet ascended to my Father” (John 20:17b)—the event suggests a reunion with the Father. paintings and pilgrim accounts. the eagle and the portal. Puccio di Simone’s Noli me tangere is. upon other soils. or with the Last Judgments at the other. Jerusalem is everywhere: not only in the touchable but also in the untouchable. Rome 1995. wonderfully fijitting—not only in terms of the Strozzi’s funerary context. I have tried to read the Noli me tangere in text and image from a spatial point of view. However. but also in the context of Lucia. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. On this stage. evoking past events in the present. In short.

namely the beata visio: The beatifijic vision as the end stage of the journey toward Jerusalem. but also between movement and time. the sense of sight could increase. and the context of contemporary opinions and comments. marked by a turning away from the tomb and decreasing movements. In the complex transposition of word into image. image-specifijic features emerged in the Noli me tangere iconography. such as in the In veneratione Maria Magdalenae (923-834). such as the hands. suggesting two diffferent interspaces of Jerusalem. was noticeable in the narrative as well as in the iconography. But more than a mere suggestion of emotion. Mary Magdalene’s dorsal position emphasizes a conversion from the empty tomb toward the untouchable visible body. I have called this the ‘iconic turn’. the image-immanent features of Noli me tangere. The exceptional power of the momentum captured in these three words was in fact interpreted in comments. the funerary context of the afffresco gave a particular dimension to the spatial reading of Noli me tangere. these diffferent approaches were united: the analyzing of symbolic conventions. Once more. In the case study of the Noli me tangere by Puccio di Simone. Noli me tangere stands right at the edge of disappearance. this pact efffects the notion of the not yet ascended body of Christ. the internal rupture of verse 11. the textimage comparisons. where Mary Magdalene turns towards Christ. but it is a disappearance that enables access to the Heavenly Jerusalem. at the same time.indb 350 31-5-2012 10:35:51 . these hands are the speaking eyes of a speechless medium.350 Barbara Baert Noli me tangere is a moment in which transformation and thresholds take place. according to the text-image comparison. Besides the references to the bride and the hermit. Verse 14 could be considered as a second marker. In fact. which presents the Noli me tangere as the necessary and ultimate step to gain insight into the mystery of the resurrection. analyzing the Noli me tangere corpus. In the dismantling of the sense of touch. the beatifijic vision as the place where space and gaze enjoy their ultimate feast. VMA6_Hoffmann_Book 1. and within the autonomy of the visual medium towards the textual. Noli me tangere unveils how narrative space fijinally takes the place of the iconic space: the access to visible invisibility. or the pact between space and gaze. such as the iconic turn. the mutual gazing is almost constant. The gazing was. elaborated in exegesis as a powerful generator of insight. Furthermore.