All Art Culture

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch dies

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has announced the death of its patriarch, Abune Paulos.

His Holiness Abune Paulos was the Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axum/Photo/Reuters

Paulos, whose full title was His Holiness Abune Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axum, died early Thursday in Addis Ababa, aged 76.

The patriarch, who was one of the seven serving presidents of the World Council of Churches is said to have been taken ill a few weeks ago, but the cause of his death, is yet to be established.

Born in Adwa in Tigray Province of the northern part of the country, the patriarch did his education at the Theological College of the Holy Trinity in Addis Ababa under the patronage of Patriarch Abune Tewophilos.

He was sent to study at the St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in the United States and later undertook doctoral degree at Princeton Theological Seminary.

The patriarch also lived in exile in the United States.

Paulos, a renowned scholar and peace advocate, worked on the reconciliation process between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

He was one of the rare exceptionally educated patriarchs in Ethiopian history after completing various degrees, including his doctoral degree, at prestigious institutions.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


Winning The Race

London, England, Aug 10, "Ethiopian athlete Meseret Defar provided one of the most emotional moments of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games when she crossed the finish line in the 5000 meter race to win the gold.
She then pulled a picture of the Virgin Mary out from under her jersey, showed it to the cameras and held it up to her face in deep prayer.
An Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, Defar entrusted her race to God with the sign of the cross and reached the finish line in 15:04:24, beating her fellow Ethiopian rival Tirunesh Dibaba, who was the favorite to win.
A teary-eyed Defar proudly showed the picture of the Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus that she carried with her for the entire race."

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, 
but only one gets the prize? 
Run in such a way as to get the prize. 
1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV 


Friday, July 6, 2012

Simonopetra Monastery

The Holy Monastery of Simonos Petra, or more simply Simonopetra, is without doubt the most daring construction on the Holy Mountain. It stands proudly at a height of 330 metres on the end of a rocky mountain range.

The Monastery was founded by the Blessed Simon the Myrrhobletes around 1257, as a result of a vision. The whole of the building work, the Life of the Saint assures us, was accomplished as the result of divine intervention. In 1363 the Monastery was renovated with generous donations from a Serb despot, John Uglesha, who is regarded as the Monastery's second founder. In the Third Typikon, Simonopetra occupies 23rd place among the then monasteries of Athos; today it holds thirteenth place in the hierarchy.

Unfortunately, among the dates which are milestones in the history of the Monastery are those inauspicious days when it was afflicted with the scourge of fire. In 1570 the Monastery, together with its valuable archive, was destroyed by a great conflagration. This resulted in the loss of documents of inestimable historical value. It also explains why we know so little about the Monastery in the Byzantine period.

The good relations which developed between Simonopetra and the Princes of Wallachia in the period of Turkish rule made possible its recovery. However, there was another fire in 1622, causing further damage. Simonopetra, which had been a coenobium, became idiorrythmic in the 17th century. Although never looted by pirates, the intolerable taxes of the Turks drove the Monastery to decline and abandonment. By the heroic efforts of the priest-monk Ioasaph of Mytilene, Asimopetra (as Simonopetra was called in the period of Turkish occupation) began to function again in the late 18th century. The 19th century saw the building of the multi-storeyed building on the south side. At the end of the same century, in 1891, yet another disastrous fire swept away, yet again, the older buildings and the Monastery's treasures.

In the present century, Simonopetra has experienced a period of recovery and of increasing prestige in the Orthodox world - particularly after the liberation of the Holy Mountain from the Turks and under the enlightened ladership of the Abbots Neophytos, Ioannikios, and Ieronymos. In the 1950s, however, a period of decline set in and in 1963, when Athos celebrated a millennium of life, the prospects for the future were gloomy. But the 1970s were a time when there was a gradual revival of Athonite monasticism. In 1973 a new 20-member brotherhood from the Meteora established itself at the Monastery. The Monastery of Simonos Petra once had a large number of metochia with fertile farm land. The oldest of these would appear to be Petriotiko in Sithonia. Today, best known are St Charalampus in Thessaloniki, the Ascension in Athens, the Nunnery of the Annunciation at Ormylia in Chalcidice, and three others in France. It is also worth mentioning the metochi of Michael Voda in Bucharest, dedicated to the Monastery in 1566 and confiscated by the Romanian Government in 1863.

Simonopetra, because of the restricted space of its site, is not one of those monasteries where we can see autonomous, clearly distinguished buildings. The katholikon is dedicated to the Nativity of Christ and in its original form was built around 1600, while the form it takes today took shape after the fire of 1891. The Monastery has four chapels within its precinct and eight outside.

The Monastery's archive contains a host of documents in Greek, Turkish, and Romanian, together with inscriptions, and musical and other manuscripts, to which must be added its printed books. However, it must be pointed out that almost the whole of the archival material is post-Byzantine.

The sacristy contains a treasury of works of art, consisting of icons, vestments, silverware, antimensia, seals, and engravings. However, the most important treasure of Simonopetra is the left hand of St Mary Magdalene - she is regarded as 'co-founder' of the Monastery - which has remained whole for two thousand years. The Monastery today has a community of 50 well-educated and active monks.{e2df7881-1e72-47d8-9ff6-05698b61f327}View


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Monastery of Saint Pishoy

The Monastery of Saint Pishoy in Wadi El Natrun (the Nitrian Desert), Beheira Governorate, Egypt, is the most famous Coptic Orthodox monastery named after Saint Pishoy. It is the easternmost monastery among the four current monasteries of the Nitrian Desert.

Foundation and ancient history

The monastery was founded by Saint Pishoy in the fourth century AD. On 13 December 841 AD (4 Koiak) 557 AM, Pope Joseph I fulfilled the desire of Saint Pishoy and moved his body as well as that of Saint Paul of Tammah to this monastery. Up to that date, the bodies of the two saints were at the monastery of Saint Pishoy at Deir el-Bersha. Today, the two bodies lie in the main church of the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Saint Pishoy in the Nitrian Desert.

Modern history

Today, the Monastery of Saint Pishoy contains the relics of Saint Pishoy, Saint Paul of Tammah, as well as the relics of other saints. Eyewitnesses recount that the body of Saint Pishoy remains in incorruption until the present day. It is also the resting place of The Thrice Blessed Pope Shenouda III.

The monastery has five churches, the main one being named after Saint Pishoy. The other churches are named after the Virgin Mary, Saint Iskhiron, Saint Georges, and Archangel Michael. The monastery is surrounded by a keep, which was built in the fifth century AD to protect the monastery against the attacks of the Berbers. An initial castle was built early in the twentieth century, but was later replaced by a four-storied castle built by Pope Shenouda III. In addition, the monastery contains a well known as the Well of the Martyrs. Coptic tradition says that the Berbers washed their swords in this well after having killed the Forty Nine Elder Martyrs of Scetes, and subsequently threw the bodies of the martyrs in the well before Christians buried the bodies in the nearby Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great. Under the reposed Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, the Monastery of Saint Pishoy began to expand, with new land around the monastery purchased and developed. Cattle breeding, and poultry dairy facilities were also developed. Ancient buildings and churches were also restored, and cells for monks, retreat houses, a residence for the Coptic Pope, annexes for a reception area, an auditorium, conference rooms as well as fences and gates were built.

The current abbot

The current bishop and abbot of the Monastery of Saint Pishoy is His Grace Sarapamon (Serapis Amon).

Other monasteries named after Saint Pishoy

The Monastery of Saint Pishoy at Deir El Barsha at Deir el-Bersha, near Mallawi
The Monastery of Saint Pishoy at Armant, east of Armant

Other monasteries of the Nitrian Desert

The Monastery of Saint Macarius
The Syrian Monastery
The Paromeos Monastery


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Processional Cross

Date: 14th – 15th century

Geography: Ethiopia, Lasta region

Culture: Ethiopia, Lasta region

Medium: Brass

Dimensions: H. 10 1/2 x W. 5 in. (26.7 x 12.7cm)

Classification: Metal-Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Elaine Rosenberg Gift and funds from various donors, 1998

Accession Number: 1998.37

This artwork is currently on display in Gallery 351
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The history of Christianity in Ethiopia is longstanding, dating back to the fourth century a.d. At that time, King Ezana, ruler of Aksum, made it the court religion. In spite of the antiquity of Ethiopian Christian art, however, processional crosses antedating the seventeenth century are rare due to sixteenth-century Islamic incursions that devastated the region.

Crosses such as this were commonly given to important monasteries by Ethiopian monarchs; in return, the clergy would remember the donors in prayers. Like many early Ethiopian crosses, this one was cast in brass using the lost-wax method. Since lost-wax objects must be made individually and are necessarily unique, this casting technique may have encouraged the experimentation that has yielded a spectacular diversity of Ethiopian metal crosses.

This processional cross has short side arms and longer vertical arms, features it shares with related Coptic and Byzantine traditions. Later crosses would equalize the length of the arms and fill in the gaps between them, almost dissolving the cross form into a diamond shape that was punctuated with interlacing patterns. The beginnings of the latter tendency can be seen here, particularly in the negative spaces that replicate the cross form at its three terminal points and the rectangular openings within its arms. Openings like these were both practical and aesthetic; they allowed crosses to be made larger without added weight, and when used in processions made impressive silhouettes against the open sky. At the base of the metal cross, just above its point of attachment to a long staff (no longer extant), are a pair of loops that served an additional purpose. These would have provided a place to affix the colored cloths that trailed from processional crosses while they were in use. A subtle counterpoint to these open spaces, shallow engraved lines thinly trace the stepped shape of the cross and enliven its broad planes with geometric patterns.

Until more recent times, Ethiopian processional crosses favored abstract openwork patterns and images of the Virgin and Child above the depiction of the Crucifixion scene. In part this reflects the view of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which does not see the cross solely in terms of Christ's Passion but also as the "Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden" (Genesis 2:9) and a vehicle of God's blessing to man.

Processional crosses play an active role in Christian religious life in Ethiopia, where churches commonly have one or more. They are prominently featured during services and processions that honor holy days such as the Epiphany or the feast of the Finding of the True Cross. Held aloft by clergy wearing ceremonial attire and accompanied by colorful umbrellas, these crosses imbue sacred occasions with reverential majesty.


Facebook Comments

My Blog List

Word of the Day

Quote of the Day

Article of the Day

This Day in History

Today's Birthday

In the News