Definition of mandorla in English:



  • A pointed oval figure used as an architectural feature and as an aureole enclosing figures such as Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary in medieval art.

    Also called vesica piscis
    • ‘The mandorla is supported by six angels, wearing amices, with carved looped clouds or stars at their feet.’
    • ‘Over the front entrance is a sculpture of Jesus seated against a mandorla.’
    • ‘Over the south door, the twelfth-century carving of Christ in Glory is seated in a niche, within the traditional mandorla.’
    • ‘In two mandorlas above him, angels display the Instruments of the Passion.’
    • ‘Of the two clay gate-keepers which once flanked the entrance, only the painted fiery mandorlas remain, together with considerable portions of murals.’


Late 19th century: from Italian, literally ‘almond’.