The circle of radiant light around the heads or figures of God, Christ, the Virgin Mary, or a saint. When it surrounds the head only, it is called a halo or nimbus. When it surrounds the entire figure with a large oval it is called a mandorla, the Italian word for almond. It indicates divinity or holiness, though originally it was placed around the heads of kings and gods as a mark of distinction.Also see Gothic, Middle Ages, and votive.