The Acheiropoíeton or (modern pronounced) is the Achiropíiton in the image Theology of Ancient and Eastern Orthodoxy a cult image or an icon that was created according to tradition, not of men, but was a gift from God. Such objects are often associated with healing powers (see miracle healing touch and Relic). This belief is, however, rather the boundary between orthodox theology and popular belief be classified as an official doctrine of the Eastern Church.

The name is often used in the plural Acheiropoíeta or Achiropoíita; Greek since New Testament times αχειροποίητο and αχείρητο - not made with hands, not made by human hands '; Latin non manufactum, Russian не - руко - творный. Another name is vera ikon (from the Latin vera, true and Greek εικόνα, Ikona - image, true image ').

History and Development

The concept of a Acheiropoieton already exists in the ancient literature, but it still lacked the corresponding term; most likely corresponds to the Christian Acheiropoieton here the Greek Diipetes (also Diopetes or Iovis proöes ). Even Cicero apparently meant Acheiropoieta when he spoke of a miraculous image of Ceres, the non humana manu factum sed de Caelo lapsum ( not made by human hands, but by universal faith fallen from heaven ').

A further report on such a Acheropita - image refers to the year 574 and is derived from the Middle Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos ( 1100 ), who writes about such finds in Kamulia ( Cappadocia ) and Apamea ( Syria); here is the talk of theo teukton eikona ( a god created image that does not come by human hands '). It is often assumed that Kedrenos have adopted here the formulation of a late antique source. Also as Acheiropoieta the Sinai icons from the 5th to 7th centuries are in St Catherine's Monastery. Fame next to the Mandylion of Edessa, which can be detected in the 6th century for the first time.

The best known examples are the alleged impression of Christ's face on the Veil of Veronica, the Turin grave cloth, the veil of Manoppello and the Abgar and Lukas images. Even the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is considered Acheiropoieton.


The Turin grave cloth was photographed in 1898 by Secondo Pia and 1931 by Giuseppe Enrie; on the photographs can be seen " image of Christ ", "that was much clearer than the only shadowy outline on the grave cloth one. This discovery gave the grave cloth a new theological significance, its possible authenticity was confirmed by the photograph. The grave cloth itself could be regarded as a sensitive surface, on which a body was imaged through direct contact " ( Frizot 1998: 283, see also P. Vignon, Le Linceul de Christian; étude scientifique Paris 1902. ).

In this time when the limits of the photograph were even less clear-cut than it is today and it is the micro-and astrophotography as well as the X-rays were discovered, it was believed also to be able to record the " light vibrations of the soul" photographically, and spoke of a " spontaneous iconography " ( Hippolyte Baraduc, L' Ame humaine, 1896, see also nature print ). The photograph itself was said to have a acheiropoietischer character (cf. also spiritualist photography).

  • Acheiropoieta

Veil of Veronica, engraving, Master of the Playing Cards

Veil of Manoppello

Abgar picture or Mandylion of Edessa, icon