Friday, April 29, 2011
A beautiful cope. The original Pugin cope, from whence this textile was based, was made for St. Augustine's, Ramsgate. Here it is:
This particular article is focused on the subject of religious liberty.
Here is an authentic Catholic icon by Marek Czarnecki who is based in Connecticut in the United States. He is trained in the Russian style and he works firmly within the principles of the iconographic tradition. A look at his gallery indicates that he is able to portray Western saints without stepping outside the bounds of the tradition . He is by all accounts and excellent teacher as well. This was commissioned by the Franciscan friars at Steubenville to illustrate John Paul II's characterisation of Our Lady as the 'Star of Evangelisation'. He is drawing on Western artistic traditions as well as Eastern in doing this. The style of the eight-pointed star, which is created by drawing two squares, is a common theme in the Western, Romanesque iconographic form (though not exclusive to it) and is seen, for example, in the geometric patterned art at the 12th century Capella Palatina. Eight-pointed stars symbolise, the 'eighth day' of creation, the incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord. Sunday is simultaneously the first day of the next week and the eight day of the previous. The Octave of Easter, such a special time in the liturgical calendar, could be thought of perhaps, as eight consecutive days of eighth days.
Below: opus sectile work from the Capella Palatina
Mass of the Last Supper:
(Photographs © Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)
Thursday, April 28, 2011
In follow-up, we are pleased to present the following images from the Mass. The NLM is told that approximately 150 people attended.
To give you a further flavour, the following is a recording of the Kyrie from the Mass:
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011
(Photos by cross-press.net via Heiligenkreuz.)
The program's website also offers a number of supplementary videos related to those which were broadcast. (Scroll down to Web Extras.) I am very taken with the description of the role of monasteries in the Church given by the producer, a Greek Orthodox American: "like a blast furnace for prayer for the rest of the world...while you and I are going about our business Monday to Saturday, they're picking up the prayer for us while we're paying the rent and taking the kids to school."
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Among the Christians of Eastern Europe, the custom of elaborately decorating eggs in a variety of styles is one of the most beautiful parts of the celebration of Easter. Each country has its own traditional types of decoration and traditional means of producing them; the Ukrainians, for example, have at least nine different techniques, and a Pysanka Museum in the western city of Kolomyia, which houses a collection of over 10,000 from various parts of that country and the world. (On the eggs pictured at right, the letters XB are the first letters of the two Russian words "Khristos Voskres - Christ is risen", the traditional greeting among Byzantine Christians of all languages in the Easter season.)
The most famous Easter eggs of all are of course those created by the house of Fabergé in the late 19th century. The first of these was made as an Easter present from the Tsar Alexander III to his wife, the Tsarina Maria Fyodorovna, in 1885, and pleased the Empress so much that it became a tradition to give a new one every year. Fifty such eggs, now known as the Imperial eggs, were produced for the Romanov family between that year and the fall of the monarchy in 1917, and more than a dozen others for a variety of wealthy clients. Most of the eggs are made to be opened, and contained a surprise of some sort, although many of these have been lost; the egg known as the Peacock, for example, contains a tiny mechanical peacock which walks around and opens and closes its tail.
The years of Soviet communism did incalculable damage to the cultural patrimony of Russia, whether through deliberate acts of destruction, the ravages of war, or the selling off of many artistic treasures to foreigners. A group of the Imperial Fabergé eggs were sold at Stalin's orders in 1927, and 14 more left the country in the early 1930’s. Several of these were acquired by the American magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes; after his death, the collection was bought en-bloc by Russian oil magnate Viktor Vekselberg, whose collection of fifteen eggs (including 9 of the Imperials) is currently the single largest. Vekselberg’s acquisitions are now in the hands of the Link of Times Foundation, created by himself to recover dispersed objects of Russia’s patrimony and return them to their native country. In 2007, for example, the foundation paid for a set of bells to be returned from Harvard University to the Danilov Monastery in Moscow; they had been saved from being melted down by the communists by American industrialist Charles Crane, and brought to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1930. Not only were the eighteen bells restored to their original location, but the foundation donated copies of them to Harvard, which had kept the originals safe for so long. (One of the originals weighs 13 tons and has a 700 pound clapper!)
The foundation’s collection also includes a large number of late 19th and early 20th century icons, some of them the work of the same artists that crafted the famous eggs, others by artists of the same time, though not associated with the house of Fabergé, and in a similar style. A selection of these, along with a number of the eggs, and various non-religious objects (for example, a whole case full of snuff boxes), is currently being hosted by the Vatican Museums, in a show running until June 11th. Among these is the only one of the Fabergé eggs with an Easter theme to it, the Resurrection Egg, displayed in the same case as the Renaissance Egg, the last presented by Tsar Alexander to the Empress Maria, in 1894.
I first attended Pontifical Mass in the Cathedral of Bautzen, the centre of the Catholic Sorbs.
The cathedral is interesting in particular because it is a simultaneum - in fact, the oldest simultaneum, exisiting as such since 1524 - the choir being Catholic, whereas the nave is used by the Protestants.
I then went to see the Easter riders gather around the Sorbian parish of Our Lady.
To get a better view, I climbed this tower (the Reichenturm).
Here the riders are circling the parish church of Our Lady.
Then I went on to see the riders' visit at St. Marienstern abbey. The riders entering the monastery courtyard:
And circling it:
Each horse's tail is decorated with a hand-embrodered bow.
Mother Abbess greeting the riders:
On their last round, the riders are blessed by the priest, for which hats are removed:
Two of the nuns look on from the nun's choir:
Here I've taken a short video clip to give you an impression: