Tag Archives: Christianity

Saint Gerasimus

The Monastery of Saint Gerasimus was founded in the 5th century near the cave of Saint Gerasimus, who participated in the Council of Chalcedon. it was destroyed by the Persians in 614, and rebuilt by the Crusaders; restored in the 12th century; rebuilt in 1588; destroyed around 1734, and reestablished around 1885.

Icon screen in the major church. Notice the influence of Western art on the icons.

Although Saint Gerasimus was born in Lycia in southern Turkey his monastic quest led him from Turkey to the monastic establishments of Egypt and then on to Palestine near the river Jordan, where he established a monastery near the Jordan River near Jericho. His feast is March 5 in the West and March 4 in the East, as he is venerated in both West and East. One charming story in his hagiography is that he pulled a thorn out of the paw of a lion, which is commemorated in the mosaic work in the church. It is one of many beautiful mosaics in the monastic establishment.


A beautiful Tau cross in a geometric circle. Saint Anthony of the 3rd century and one of the first Christian monks used a crutch in the shape of a Tau. When he visited another monk, he would place the cross outside the cave as a symbol of communion of God.

Entrance into the Monastic Chapel.

The intricacy of the mosaics is truly stunning.

The Cave Church also has some beautiful floor mosaics.

Venite Adoremus: Uncovered Mosaics in Bethelem of Angels Adoring the Lord

Italian restoration workers at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem have been showing off a stunning mosaic of an angel that was previously hidden beneath plaster.”

The BBC website prevents embedding the video, which is less than two minutes long, so please click through to see the stunning restoration.

Thanks to God for 40 Years

The Psalmist says, “How can I repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me? I will take up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” (Ps. 116:13).

July 17, 2016 I did take up the cup of salvation at Saint Benedict and did give thanks to the Lord for all the wonderful people whom I have encountered during these 40 years of priestly ministry, at our Lady of the Annunciation in Ladysmith, Saint Augustine, Saint John in Waynesboro, Saint Benedict, and most recently Sacred Heart at Ghent in Norfolk. So many people who have mediated to me that mystery of Christ among us of which Saint Paul speaks in Colossians 1:24-28.

On this anniversary of ordination my prayers are in thanksgiving for God’s goodness extended to me in the office of the priesthood. Saint Augustine states that a pastor who sets his heart on a position of eminence rather than an opportunity for service should realize he is no pastor at all. In another place Augustine states, for you I am a priest but with you, I am a Christian first. So being a Christian I too must render an account of my life at the end, and also being a priest I must render an account to God – an account of my priestly ministry, and to those words of Augustine, I add my own: Your lives will be the account that I render before the awesome judgment seat of Christ. And for that accounting I render thanks to God.

July 17, 2016, Saint Benedict Catholic Church, Richmond, Virginia.

July 17, 2016, Saint Benedict Catholic Church, Richmond, Virginia.

Sunday Afterwords

During the early Christian centuries, art was developing as a powerful way to communicate the Gospel. Art can capture the imagination and lead us to a deeper reflection on faith and how faith shapes our moral stance in the world. The written word of the Sacred Scripture inspired a movement to express that word through art. Enjoy this lecture that leads us into the world of our Christian origins.

Christianity in Mosul

The Christian patrimony of Mosul is stunning. Pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in the middle east on Ash Wednesday.

“Christianity in Mosul dates to the time of the Apostles. Initially, the faith was centered on the side of the Tigris opposite present day Mosul, in the ruins of the famed Assyrian capital Nineveh….”
Read the rest and see some stunning photos. The Christian-Muslim Symbiosis of Mosul Now Coming to an End

Theological Conversations

Professor Christian Troll, a Jesuit priest, has engaged in the studies of Islam since 1961. He is an influential scholar and a very well respected participant and Muslim-Christian conversation for decades. His books and numerous articles are a quest for mutual understanding. His website, Muslims Ask, Christians Answer is invaluable for both Christians and Muslims who want to come to a deeper respect and understanding of their respective faith traditions. 

Muslims Ask, Christians Answer http://aam.s1205.t3isp.de/?L=1

The same material is available in paperback,

Article: “Muhammad – Prophet for Christians also?”

Towards common ground between Christians and Muslims? Professor Troll writes a response to “138 Muslim religious leaders call for reconciliation and cooperation with Christians.” His response is here:

Professor Troll’s main website: http://www.sankt-georgen.de/lehrende/troll.html (in German)

Chora Church: Four Gospel Hymnographers

More frescoes from Chora, in Istanbul.

The Four Hymnographers are seated in the pendentives below the dome. These are Byzantine poets noted for their hymns honoring the Virgin [224-227].

John of Damascus, in the northeast pendentive, is the most famous, a theologian active in the eighth century. He is identified by his turban and is depicted writing the Idiomela for the funeral service.

Kosmas the Poet, in the southeast pendentive, a student of John of Damascus, who is shown with an uninscribed book in his lap.

Joseph the Poet, in the southwest pendentive, holding a scroll on which he writes his Canon for the Akathistos Hymn, an addition to the most important Byzantine hymn honoring the Virgin. The verses connect Joseph to the Old Testament scenes depicted below him.

Theophanes Graptos, in the northwest pendentive, a ninth-century writer who was a monk at the Chora. He is shown writing verses from the funeral service, which refer to the adjacent scene of Jacob’s Ladder and to the role of the Virgin in salvation. Read more.

In this pendentive is Saint John of Damascus. He is clad in Oriental costumes.

Enjoy this chant of the Paschal Canon of Saint John:

Istanbul-091735 Istanbul-091744