Monday, January 07, 2008

Peace On Earth And In The Cosmos -- Goodwill Toward Mankind, Animals, And Plants

Merry Christmas wishes to my Orthodox Christian readers (and to N. and our family and friends in Ukraine, Belarus, and the Russian Federation)


A Prayer of Saint Basil the Great

"We bless thee, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who ever workest great and mysterious deeds for us, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who providest us with sleep as a rest from our infirmities and as a repose for our bodies tired by labor. We thank thee that thou hast not destroyed us in our transgressions, but in thy love toward mankind thou hast raised us up, as we lay in despair, that we may glorify thy Majesty. We entreat thine infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of our understanding and raise up our minds from the heavy sleep of indolence; open our mouths and fill them with thy praise, that we may unceasingly sing and confess thee, who art God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the Only-Begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."


[Click on image for enlargement.]

Late 14th century C.E.
80 x 48. Egg tempera on the lime wood.
From the Intercession Church in Lutsk, Ukraine [near the frontier with Poland and Belarus]. The Ukrainian State Museum of Ukrainian Fine Arts, Kyiv, Ukraine, Future European Union.

"The Virgin of Volhynia belongs to the so-called Odegetria type of Byzantine provenance, the type most popular in Ukraine. Legends associate its origin with the name of St. Luke the Evangelist, who was not only a writer, the author of a Gospel, but an artist as well. The first icon of Odegetria painted by him was passed on to Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch. After his death it was transferred to Jerusalem where it was rediscovered by Eudocia, wife of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius, in the 5th century. From then on the icon was kept in the Ton Hodigon Church until its destruction in 1453 during the Turkish invasion. Some scholars hold that the name Odegetria (Directress) appeared under the special influence of the name of church. The Odegetria type of icon is a representation of Mary and Child. Jesus usually holds a scroll of Gospel in His left hand and gives a blessing with His right. In most analogous icons the Virgin's maphorion bears three stars (originally crosses) which symbolize chastity. In this icon, the maphorion is decorated with four stars arranged cross-like, a symbol which was found occasionally in the Middle Ages and which enhanced the significance of the icon.

The icon from the Intercession Church was renowned as an agent of miracles. Poem- prayers were composed about it, and at various times it was given a special place in honor in the church, in which connection it suffered greatly. In the 18th century both upper corners of it's panel were removed in order to install the icon in a new case, while the representation itself was plated with a bronze gilt. In the 19th century, when the icon was transferred to a new icon-case designed in the classical style, the panel, together with the mounting, was cut from the sides, so that the icon lost its initial almost square form and original margins with their two pink bands of different tones. The background of the icon was also spoiled being covered with red velvet and plaster stars set on it with the help of thick metal pintles.

The present meticulous restoration of the icon was executed by M.V. Pertsev."

Image and caption credit: (c) Lviv Icon Gallery via 2008. All rights reserved. With thanks.


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