Acheiropoieta (Byzantine Greek: ἀχειροποίητα, "made without hand"; singular acheiropoieton) — also called Icons Made Without Hands (and variants) — are a particular kind of icon which are said to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human painter. Invariably these are images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. The most notable examples that are credited by tradition among the faithful are, in the Eastern church the Image of Edessa or Mandylion (depending on the version of its origin story followed) and the Hodegetria, and in the West, the Veil of Veronica, the Manoppello Image and the Shroud of Turin.
Although the most famous acheiropoieta today are mostly icons in paint on wood panel, they have been in several other types of technique, such as mosaics, painted tile, and cloth. Ernst Kitzinger distinguished two types: "Either they are images believed to have been made by hands other than those of ordinary mortals or else they are claimed to be mechanical, though miraculous, impressions of the original". The belief in such images becomes prominent only in the 6th century, by the end of which both the Mandylion and the Image of Camuliana were well known. The pilgim Antoninus of Piacenza was shown a relic of the Veil of Veronica type in Memphis, Egypt in the 570s.
Such images functioned as powerful relics as well as icons, and their images were naturally seen as especially authoritative as to the true appearance of the subject. Like other icon types believed to be painted from the live subject, such as the Hodegetria, they therefore acted as important references for other images in the tradition. They therefore were copied on an enormous scale, and the belief that such images existed, and authenticated certain facial types, played an important role in the conservatism of the Byzantine tradition. Beside, and conflated with, the developed legend of the Image of Edessa, was the tale of the Veil of Veronica, whose very name signifies "true icon" or "true image", the fear of a "false image" remaining strong.
Acheiropoieta of 836 
Such icons were seen as powerful arguments against iconoclasm. In a document apparently produced in the circle of the Patriarch of Constantinople, which purports to be the record of a (fictitious) Church council of 836, a list of acheiropoieta and icons miraculously protected is given as evidence for divine approval of icons. The acheiropoieta listed are:
- 1. the Image of Edessa, described as still at Edessa;
- 2. the image of the Virgin at Lydda in Israel, which was said to have miraculously appeared imprinted on a column of a church built by the apostles Peter and John;
- 3. another image of the Virgin, three cubits high, at Lydda in what is now Israel, which was said to have miraculously appeared in another church.
The nine other miracles listed deal with the maintenance rather than creation of icons, which resist or repair the attacks of assorted pagans, Arabs, Persians, scoffers, madmen, iconoclasts and Jews.
This list seems to have had a regional bias, as other then-famous images are not mentioned, such as the Image of Camuliana, later brought to the capital. Another example, and the only one which indisputably still exists, is a mosaic of the young Christ from the sixth century in the church of the Latomos monastery in Thessaloniki (now dedicated to Saint David). This was apparently covered by plaster during the Iconoclastic period, towards the end of which an earthquake caused the plaster to fall down, revealing the image (during the reign of Leo V, 813-20). However, this was only a subsidiary miracle, according to the account we have. This says that the mosaic was being constructed secretly, during the 4th century persecution of Galerius, as an image of the Virgin, when it suddenly was transformed overnight into the present image of Christ.
Notable examples 
A number of other images from the Western church are covered at Holy Face of Jesus
Image of Edessa 
According to Christian legend, the Image of Edessa, (known to Orthodox Christians as the Mandylion, a Byzantine Greek word not applied in any other context), was a holy relic consisting of a square or rectangle of cloth upon which a miraculous image of the face of Jesus was imprinted — the first icon ("image").
According to the legend, King Abgar of Edessa wrote to Jesus, asking him to come cure him of an illness. Abgar received an answering letter from Jesus, declining the invitation, but promising a future visit by one of his disciples. Along with the letter went a likeness of Jesus. This legend was first recorded in the early fourth century by Eusebius of Caesarea, who said that he had transcribed and translated the actual letter in the Syriac chancery documents of the king of Edessa. Instead, the apostle "Thaddaeus" is said to have come to Edessa, bearing the words of Jesus, by the virtues of which the king was miraculously healed.
The first record of the existence of a physical image in the ancient city of Edessa (now Urfa) was in Evagrius Scholasticus, writing about 600, who reports a portrait of Christ, of divine origin (θεότευκτος), which effected the miraculous aid in the defence of Edessa against the Persians in 544. The image was moved to Constantinople in the 10th century. The cloth disappeared from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade [Sack of Constantinople] in 1204, reappearing as a relic in King Louis IX of France's Sainte Chapelle in Paris. It finally disappeared in the French Revolution.
The Ancha icon in Georgia is reputed to be the Keramidion, another acheiropoietos recorded from an early period, miraculously imprinted with the face of Christ by contact with the Mandylion. To art historians it is a Georgian icon of the 6th-7th century.
Image of Camuliana 
Though it is now little known, having probably been destroyed in the period of Byzantine Iconoclasm, the icon of Christ from Camuliana in Cappadocia was the most famous Greek example, certainly from the time it reached Constantinople in 574, after which it was used as a palladium in battles by Philippikos, Priscus and Heraclius, and in the Avar Siege of Constantinople in 626, and praised by George Pisida.
Lateran Palace Image in Rome 
This image, also called the Uronica, is kept in what was once the pope’s private chapel, in a room now known as the Sancta Sanctorum ("Holy of Holies") at the top of the Scala Sancta ("Holy Stairs") in a surviving part of the old Lateran Palace in Rome. The legend is that this image was begun by St Luke and finished by angels.
It is thought that the icon was painted in Rome between the 5th and 6th century. Today only slight traces under overpainting remain of the original image of an enthroned Christ with a crossed halo, in the classic pose of the Teacher holding the Scroll of the Law in His left hand while His right is raised in benediction. Many times restored, the face completely changed when Pope Alexander III (1159–1181) had the present one, painted on silk, placed over the original. Innocent III (1189–1216) covered the rest of the holy icon with an embossed silver riza, but other later embellishments completely covered its surface. It has also been cleaned during the recent restoration.
The doors protecting the icon, also in embossed silver, are of the 15th century. It has a baldachin in metal and gilded wood over it, replacing the one by Caradaossi (1452–1527), lost during the sack of Rome in 1527. The image itself was last inspected by the Jesuit art historian J. Wilpert in 1907.
As early as the reign of Pope Sergius I (687–701) there are records of the image being carried in annual procession at certain feasts, and Stephen II (752–757) carried the image on his shoulders in a procession to counter a threat from the Lombards. By the ninth century its elaborate procession had become a focus of the Feast of the Assumption. In the Middle Ages the Pope and the seven cardinal-bishops would celebrate masses in the small sanctuary where it was housed, and at times would kiss its feet. Although no longer a specific liturgical object, some Romans still venerate this icon, considering it a last hope in disasters and memorable events in the capital, a veneration which can be compared with that for the other ancient icon of the Madonna “Salus Populi Romani” in St. Mary Major, again in Rome. The former icon used to be taken across Rome annually in procession to "meet" the latter on the Feast of the Assumption.
The Veil of Veronica 
Veronica's Veil', known in Italian as the Volto Santo or Holy Face (but not to be confused with the carved crucifix Volto Santo of Lucca) is a legendary relic. The legend is of medieval origin, and only a feature of the Western church; its connection with any single surviving physical image is slighter still, though a number of images have been associated with it, several probably always meant to be received as copies. The image in the Vatican has a certain priority, if only because of the prestige of the papacy. The nuns of San Silvestro in Capite in Rome were forbidden to exhibit their rival image in 1517 to avoid competition with the Vatican Veronica; it is also now in the Vatican. Like the Genoa image, it is painted on panel and therefore is likely to have always been intended to be a copy.
The legend says that Veronica (a name meaning "true image") from Jerusalem encountered Jesus along the Via Dolorosa on the way to Calvary. When she paused to wipe the sweat (Latin suda) off his face with her veil, his image was imprinted on the cloth. The event is commemorated by one of the Stations of the Cross. According to legend, Veronica later traveled to Rome to present the cloth to the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Legend has it that it has miraculous properties, being able to quench thirst, restore sight, and sometimes even raise the dead. Recent studies trace the association of the name with the image  to the translation of Eastern relics to the West at the time of the Crusades.
The Manoppello Image 
In 1999, German Jesuit Father Heinnrich Pfeiffer, Professor of Art History at the Pontifical Gregorian University, announced at a press conference in Rome that he had found the Veil in a church of the Capuchin monastery, in the small village of Manoppello, Italy, where it had been in the custody of the Capuchin Friars since 1660. The image, known as the Manoppello Image is attested to by Father Donato da Bomba in his “Relatione historica” research tracing back to 1640. Recent studies have revealed noted congruities with the Shroud, see below. In September 2006 Pope Benedict XVI made a private pilgrimage to the shrine, his first as Pope, raising it to the status of a Basilica.
Shroud of Turin 
The Shroud of Turin (or Turin Shroud) is a linen cloth bearing the hidden image of a man who appears to have been physically traumatized in a manner consistent with crucifixion. The image is clearly visible as a photographic negative, as was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate when amateur photographer Secondo Pia was unexpectedly allowed to photograph it. The shroud is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. The Roman Catholic Church has approved this image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus and some believe it is the cloth that covered Jesus at burial. The shroud has been carbon dated and is made of linen dating to the late 13th or early 14th century CE. Skeptics contend the shroud is a medieval hoax or forgery—or even an icon created as such. It is the subject of intense debate among some scientists, believers, historians, and writers regarding where, when, and how the shroud and its images were created.
Virgin of Guadalupe 
This full length image of the Virgin is said to have miraculously been created at the unusually late date of 1531 in Mexico, where it continues to enjoy an enormous reputation.
See also 
- Perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena
- Church of the Acheiropoietos in Thessaloniki, Greece
- Acheiropoietos Monastery in Kyrenia, Cyprus
- Kitzinger, 113
- Kitzinger, 113-114
- The Camuliana Image of Christ in "Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453: Sources and Documents" by Cyril A. Mango, University of Toronto Press, 1986 GoogleBooks access date March 2013
- Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae 1.13.5 and .22.
- Evagrius, in Migne, Patrologia Graecalxxxvi, 2, cols. 2748f, noted by Runciman 1931, p. 240, note 5; remarking that "the portrait of Christ has entered the class of αχειροποίητοι icons".
- Two documentary inventories: year 1534 (Gerard of St. Quentin de l'Isle, Paris) and year 1740. See Grove Dictionary of Art, Steven Runciman, Some Remarks on the Image of Edessa, Cambridge Historical Journal 1931, and Shroud.com for a list of the group of relics. See also an image of the Gothic reliquary dating from the 13th century, in Histor.ws.
- Beckwith, 88
- Kitzinger, 111-112; Emerick, 356-357. Most fully covered by Von Dobschütz, like most of the images here
- B.M. Bolton, "Advertise the Message: Images in Rome at the Turn of the Twelfth Century", in D. Wood (ed) The Church and the Arts (Oxford, 1992) p. 117
- Bolton, ibid. p. 120
- Bolton, ibid. pp. 126-128
- The Rediscovered Face - 1 first of four installments of an audiovisual presentation relating the holy image with a number of ancient predecessors, YouTube, access date March 2013.
- Excerpt of Il Volto Santo di Manoppello (The Holy Face of Manoppello), published by Carsa Edizioni in Pescara (page 13) access date March 2013
- Sudarium Christi The Face of Christ online audio visual featuring texts by sudarium expert Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlömer et al.
- Damon, P. E.; D. J. Donahue, B. H. Gore, A. L. Hatheway, A. J. T. Jull, T. W. Linick, P. J. Sercel, L. J. Toolin, C. R. Bronk, E. T. Hall, R. E. M. Hedges, R. Housley, I. A. Law, C. Perry, G. Bonani, S. Trumbore, W. Woelfli, J. C. Ambers, S. G. E. Bowman, M. N. Leese, M. S. Tite (1989-02). "Radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin". Nature 337 (6208): 611–615. doi:10.1038/337611a0. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
- Beckwith, John, Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Penguin History of Art (now Yale), 2nd edn. 1979, ISBN 0140560335
- di Lazzaro, P. (ed.), Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Scientic approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA, 2010, ISBN 978-88-8286-232-9
- Brenda M. Bolton, "Advertise the Message: Images in Rome at the Turn of the Twelfth Century" in Diana Wood (ed) The Church and the Arts (Studies in Church History, 28) Oxford: Blackwell, 1992, pp. 117–130.
- Cormack, Robin, Writing in Gold: Byzantine Society and its Icons, London: George Philip, 1985, ISBN 0-540-01085-5.
- Ernst Von Dobschütz, Christusbilder - Untersuchungen Zur Christlichen Legende, Orig. edit. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs´sche buchhandlung, 1899. New edit. Kessinger Publishing's Legacy Reprints 2009. ISBN 1-120-17642-5
- Emerick, Judson J., The Tempietto Del Clitunno Near Spoleto, 1998, Penn State Press, ISBN 0271044500, 9780271044507, google books
- Kitzinger, Ernst, "The Cult of Images in the Age before Iconoclasm", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 8, (1954), pp. 83-150, Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, JSTOR
- International Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images
- Translation of the Image "Made-Without-Hands" of our Lord Jesus Christ Orthodox synaxarion
- Icon "Made Without Hands" from Lydda
- Sudarium Christi The Face of Christ online audio visual featuring texts by sudarium expert Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlömer et al.
- The Rediscovered Face - 1 first of four installments of an audiovisual presentation relating a number of ancient predecessors, YouTube, access date March 2013.