ST JOHN XENOS, «HIC FUIT...»: FROM CHRIST ANTIPHONETES IN CONSTANTINOPLE TO THE VIRGIN ANTIPHONETRIA IN CRETE
During the past decades literature and research on St. John Xenos and his cult has focused on existing testimonies from texts attributed to him, such as names of places and monuments preserved in the island of Crete. Apart from details in the preserved monuments, as well as documents that have offered further glimpses in the activity of Xenos, a shift to the relation between Crete and Constantinople, rather than a Cretan centered interpretation for his figure, might offer a better understanding both for Xenos himself as well as the use of his memory in the coming Venetian times of the island. The term Antiphonetria, which was used to name the main establishment of Xenos in Crete –also existing in 8th century Constantinople in order to call the Virgin of Blachernai–, can derive from Antiphonetes, the equivalent term in the masculine. This was widely used to name Christ, but originally meant the guarantor for a loan, as a jural term. According to byzantine contemporary sources, such as the Chronography of Michael Psellos and the Synopsis chronike of John Skylitzes, icons of Christ Antiphonetes and the Virgin of Blachernai had played an important role, as a divine animated figure that would correspond to the petitions of the Empress Zoe, or as a strange and miraculous administrator in the cult and the public life of Constantinople. These figures apart from occupying a significant part of the sacred space and creating their own hierotopy, were also present on the most significant means for the transfer of public power and image, such as the coinage of the times. Despite the fact that no icon of Antiphonetria from the second byzantine period of Crete was preserved in the establishment of John Xenos at Myriokephala, it is possible that such an icon of the Virgin constituted then not only a centre of cult but also an equivalent active correspondent (“antiphonetria”) in Crete which could have come from the eleventh century Constantinople.