26 February 2008

poklonny krest - large eastern crosses near the arctic circle

"poklonny krest" - also called memorial crosses are common throughout lands
of the eastern churches.
Many of them are ancient reminders and all of them are places of prayer.
There are few being constructed and erected in this modern era. This post
highlights a special one just erected in 2007. -note- Fr John-Brian

Wooden cross erected to commemorate victims of Stalin's purges
Associated Press
Posted AT 12:30 PM EST on 08/08/07
MOSCOW - Russian Orthodox priests consecrated a wooden cross Wednesday at a
site south of Moscow where firing squads executed thousands of people 70
years ago at the height of Josef Stalin's political purges. Created at a
monastery that housed one of the first Soviet labour camps and brought by
barge to Moscow along a canal built on the bones of gulag inmates, the large
cross has been embraced as memorial to the mass suffering under Stalin.

Huge cross marks Stalin purges
BBC report
The cross honours the memory of tens of thousands of Stalin's victims
A giant cross commemorating the victims of Stalinist purges in the 1930s has
been erected at a ceremony near Moscow. The wooden cross - 12.5m high (41
ft) and 7.6m wide (25 ft) - was placed in Butovo, at the site of a former
execution ground.


Other Northern Crosses of the East

The landscape of the Solovki is filled with signs of religious revival. One
such sign stands smack in the middle of the harbor: a towering wooden cross,
called a poklonny krest (cross of worship), which rises up from a rocky
platform to greet ships as they arrive on the island. These distinctively
shaped crosses are something of a specialty in the Russian North; you can
find dozens of them throughout the Solovki. Many of them were made by a
retired architect named Georgy Kozhokar. When I met Kozhokar, he was oiling
up his mountain bike for a ride across the island. With his thick, slightly
graying beard, he wouldn't have been out of place in an Orthodox monastery.
Indeed, he has lived on the Solovki for the past 17 years - but he was
originally born in far-off Moldova. "The Solovki is my spiritual homeland,"
he explains.

Later, Kozhokar took me on a tour of his cross-making workshop. Besides the
cavernous space where he assembles his monumental crosses, there is also a
room where he creates small, intricately carved crosses that will hang on
the walls of churches and private houses. Kozhokar never signs his work; he
considers himself a servant of God, rather than a commercial craftsman.

From: Ghosts of the Solovki By Alex Osipovich


See also:
Stalin's victims honored in emotional memorial
Gulag site now a museum to purges and a spiritual haven
Moscow ceremony remembers people killed in Soviet purge
Stalin's victims honoured

12 February 2008

San Damiano Icon Crucifix - a Cross of the East

San Damiano Icon Crucifix is a Cross of the East. It is sometimes known as
the Saint Francis Crucifix.

Excerpts below from:
San Damiano Cross - A Brief Explanation By: Fr. Michael Scanlon, T.O.R.

The History of the San Damiano Crucifix

An unknown Umbrian artist painted the Crucifix Icon in the 12th Century.
There is strong Syrian influence, and history tells us that there had been
some Syrian monks in the area.

It is painted on wood (walnut) to which cloth had been glued. It is about
190 cm high, 120 cms wide and 12 cms thick. It is more than likely it was
painted for San Damiano to hang over the Altar as the Blessed Sacrament was
not reserved in non Parish Churches of those times and especially those that
had been abandoned and neglected as we know San Damiano had been. In 1257
the Poor Clares left San Damiano for San Giorgio and took the Crucifix with
them. They carefully kept the Cross for 700 years.

In Holy Week of 1957, it was placed on public view for the first time over
the new Altar in San Giorgio's Chapel in the Basilica of St Clare of Assisi.

The Icon of the Transfigured Christ

For Eastern Christians the Icon is a representation of the living God, and
by coming into its presence it becomes a personal encounter with the sacred,
through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The San Damiano Icon is then a
personal encounter with the transfigured Christ - God made man. The Crucifix
contains the story of the death, resurrection and ascension into glory. It
expresses the total and universal Paschal Mystery of Christ. It invites us
all to take part in it with a lively and lived faith, just as St Francis
did. Christ's saving death is shown in John's Gospel in its serene majesty,
and this Crucifix portrays this in picture form. It is not surprising that
Saint Francis was attracted to this Icon and that the inspiration for his
life came from this Christ who spoke to him "Go repair my Church ... ".

The Figure of the Christ

The central figure of the icon is Christ, not only because of the relative
size, but because Christ is a figure of light dominating the scene and
giving light to the other figures "I am the light of the world. Whoever
follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. "
(John 8:12). Christ stands upright, not nailed. The eyes of Jesus are open:
He looks out to the world, which He has saved. He is alive, the one who is
eternal. Jesus' vestment is a simple loin cloth - a symbol of both High
Priest and Victim. The chest, throat and neck are very strong, Jesus gives
power of re-creation to His Disciples (John 22:23). He breathed on His
Disciples (John 20:22), the Greek word used recalls the moment of Creation
(Gen 2:7). The shadow over the face of Jesus is increased by the fact the
halo and face are tilted forward on the original Icon. The humanity of
Christ veils the true glory of the Word who lives in the super illuminous
darkness of the Godhead. Behind the outstretched arms of Christ is His empty
tomb, shown as a black rectangle.

The Shape of the Cross.

The shape of the Cross has changed to enable the artist to include all who
participated in the drama of the Passion. Note that the arms of the cross
lift to Christ's right indicating that the Good Thief (traditionally called
Dismas) went to Heaven; while the left hand dips - the other thief did not.