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An aureola or aureole (diminutive of Latin aura, "air") is the radiance of luminous cloud which, in paintings of sacred personages, surrounds the whole figure. In the earliest periods of Christian art this splendour was confined to the figures of the persons of the Christian Godhead, but it was afterwards extended to the Virgin Mary and to several of the saints.
The aureola, when enveloping the whole body, generally appears oval or elliptical in form, but occasionally circular or quatrefoil. When it appears merely as a luminous disk round the head, it is called specifically a halo or nimbus, while the combination of nimbus and aureole is called a glory. The strict distinction between nimbus and aureole is not commonly maintained, and the latter term is most frequently used to denote the radiance round the heads of saints, angels or persons of the Christian Godhead.