Monday, June 28, 2010

Ukrainian Glory, Blessed Feast

This past Sunday, following a visit to Holy Protection Cathedral in NYC, I drove over to the American Bible Society, where they had a display of Ukrainian icons and other liturgical items (this will be on display through most of September), called "The Glory of Ukraine." To the right, you have a pectoral cross of one of the saintly monks (you will have to forgive the lack of provenance in the post; I was approached by a docent who told me after I had snapped photos that such was not allowed; I was thus unable to go back and take detailed photos of the descriptions of these three items). The cross is more or less a foot long, with Christ in the center, the holy apostles flanking Him on both sides, St. Theodotus above Him, and another saint beneath Him who has since been rubbed off.

The royal doors to the right are a gorgeous example of Ukrainian liturgical artistry; along with the seamless inclusion both of the Annunciation and of the four Evangelists, a grape cluster motif ties the doors in quite nicely to their main liturgical function of presenting to us the Vine of life. Also on display was a popular Ukrainian motif of the 17th-18th centuries (not pictured) where a western-style Bridegroom Christ has a vine growing out of the wound in His side which, after arching over his head, comes down His other side to an angel, who, grabbing a cluster of grapes, squeezes the juice into a chalice. A gorgeous reminder that His Blood is drink, indeed.

The final icon, from Lviv, if I remember correctly, this much more Byzantine-style icon dates to the 13th century, as opposed to the dates of Roman Catholic Ukrainian monarchs who commissioned Renaissance-style, linear-perspective, iconographically-non-functional images. One such image was the "vigilant eye" icon, wherein an infant Christ lies, peacefully asleep, on a cross, with the instruments of the crucifixion strewn about him. The light of heaven shines down from one side, showing how this small one was the one who would die, yet who, as a human infant, remained innocently unaware of it. I found myself wondering how much of Orthodox thought and practice was getting "lost in translation" by being hosted by Protestants, but everything seemed to be very well-described. There was one jab about Ukrainians often praying to St. Paraskevi for matters of the home "instead of to God," but...oh well. That a Protestant group would agree to display such things is something for which I'm grateful.

I wish all of you a blessed feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul! Click on the icon of Ss. Peter and Paul in the sidebar for a sermon by St. Augustine of Hippo (taken from given for the feast.

Troparion - Tone 4

First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 2

O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest
and to the enjoyment of Your blessings
the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles,
for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice,
for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Happy Feast Day!
What a blessing, those are beautiful. I especially like the roay doors.