Tag Archives: Mosaic

Where Jesus Withdrew

This is the baptismal font of the 4th century where we read the Gospel of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

Tabgha. The early Judean Christian community maintained this was the lonely place on the shore to which Jesus withdrew.

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. ~Matthew 14:13-14

Past the walls of the church was where Matthew collected taxes.

The church is a classical byzantine church. The bare apse emphasizes the altar.

In front of the altar is the 5th century loaves and fishes mosaic. This prefigures the Eucharist.

People in adoration.

A large group of Russian seminarians adore Our Lord.

The floor mosaic depicts a free standing Nilotic landscape. This is a meter measuring the water level of Nile river.

The geometric floor mosaics.

The geometric floor mosaics.

Angel Mosaic in Bethlehem

The Church of the Nativity is one of the oldest churches in Christendom. Today through the skill of the Italians beautiful mosaics covered for centuries are being brought to light. What a treasure that has been hidden from our eyes!



Golden Mosaics of Hagia Sophia

On reading the last two posts on the fall of Hagia Sophia, a reader writes:

“So interesting to see the things for real, that is, photographed here and now by someone I know. History books can get awfully abstract, but when you see something photographed it becomes very easy to picture the events. In fact, seeing a photograph you almost can’t not picture the events. With the photographs of the walls, you can imagine mounted riders coming up to them, or scaffolding being built, or picking out good places for defenses, etc. In the photograph of the whole interior of Hagia Sophia, you can hear how the sound must echo in the large space, you can feel that the shafts of sunlight must be warm, etc. – the photograph engages the senses and very quickly the imagination. (Thus why you need art in church!)”

The Virgin Mary with the Child on her lap looks down from on high.

Mary is set in a background of golden mosaic in the interior of the Half Dome of the apse. The mosaic belongs to the 9th century

The interior space of Hagia Sophia is filled with a golden light, from the sun shining on the mosaics. Four portraits of angels in the dome would have shimmered when the natural light reflected on the dome.

In each of the four pendentives of the main dome are portraits of angels.

A mosaic angel.

Ancient Illyria, Modern Albania

Flag of Albania

Flag of Albania

Wednesday, August 26. Today was our first full day of the trip. After breakfast today began the Tirana city tour. Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania (1 million pop.). The city has gone through a tremendous redevelopment in the last decade following suppression under a strict Communist regime. Today it is made up of streets of tightly packed small shops and restaurants. Still, there are many parts of the city needing redevelopment.

Albania is largely Muslim (60%) followed by Orthodox, then Catholic. One of our first visits was the Et’hem Bey Mosque. In 1991, 10,000 surrounded the mosque in defiance of the Communist regime. This was the beginning of the fall of communism in Albania. Under Communist rule all religions had to go underground. There is a history of the religions living in harmony. The mosque is located on the main square. The interior is covered with frescoes, which is rarely seen in mosques. It is small so a much larger one is being constructed.

The women’s gallery.

The Islamic pulpit.

Mosaic of Albania History, National Historical Museum, Tirana.

Next we visited the National Historical Museum which had an incredible mosaic on the facade which recounted Albanian history.

This was called Illyria or Illyricum, which is mentioned in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 15:19). It was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century despite the heroic leadership of Albanian hero Skanderbeg. Their independence from the Ottomans came in 1912, followed by a monarchy until the Communists came following WWII. The Socialists followed the Communists until it became democratic in 1990.

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A Roman mosaic.

A Roman mosaic.

We were even more interested in the religious pieces representing its Christian history.

Epitaphion of Christ, National Historical Museum, Tirana

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Iconostasis, National Historical Museum, Tirana

Tribute to Mother Teresa in national museum.

Tribute to Mother Teresa in national museum.

In the afternoon we went to the mountain city of Kruje, named after the water springs. This was the hometown of Albanian hero Skanderbeg, who had resisted Ottoman occupation.

Skanderbeg, National Historical Museum, Tirana

Ruins of his castle mark his memory.

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There is a large bazaar which sells both inexpensive souvenirs next to antiques and textiles.

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We toured the Ethnographic Museum giving us a view of family life 250 years ago.

 Following the museum we had a typical dinner at a local restaurant with an incredible view.

Kruje Castle and Watchtower, built on ruins of Skanderbeg Castle.

The weather was stifling today. We decided to end the day by sharing the local beer.  A good way to conclude a day that has been hot and uncomfortable.

Tomorrow we travel to Montenegro.