Tag Archives: Rome

January 6th: Epiphany

6 Jan

Below is a re-post of mine from 2014. Always a vexing issue for me: what is January 6th? Enjoy.

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What is January 6th?

6 Jan

This is a question, or comes as part of misguided well-wishing that I get at this time of the year when people find out I’m Orthodox.  “Your Christmas is January 6th, right?”  “Epiphany?  What’s Epiphany?”  “That’s right!  Three Kings’ Day?!”  “But Russian Christmas is January 6th, right?”  “Is that what they call ‘little Christmas’?”  And the thing is that this is one of those questions that people aren’t really interested in hearing the entire answer to because it’s so complicated, and you see their eyes start glazing over just as you’ve started to explain, so I usually mumble “uh-huh” or something and change the topic.  So let this post be my official statement on the issue that people can refer to when they want to know what the deal is, or on those nights when the Stillnox or Ambien isn’t working.

Once upon a time, Julius Caesar created a calendar.  Well, even if it wasn’t Caesar himself but his astronomers, it was known as the Julian calendar and it was what the entire Christian world used until the sixteenth century.  That’s when Western astronomers, during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII — who were smarter than Caesar’s astronomers — realized that the calendar we were all using was off, vis-à-vis certain fixed astronomical events like solstices and equinoxes, and especially the all-important Vernal Equinox* by which the date of Easter is calculated: that it had drifted back some ten days over the centuries, meaning the day that was actually March 20th, let’s say, had slipped back to the day we were calling March 10th at the time.  So they came up with a new calendar that was more accurate, called Gregorian, like the Pope.  They just skipped the errant ten days.  And one fine evening of March 10th, let’s say, Christians the world over went to bed and when they woke up it wasn’t March 11th but March 21st.  With me so far?

After some fuss, Western Christians accepted the new calendar.  The hyper-traditional Russian Orthodox Church and the rest of the Orthodox Churches, which were mostly part of Muslim states at the time, kept the Old/Julian Calendar, till the early twentieth-century when the Greek and Romanian and Bulgarian Churches adopted the New/Gregorian Calendar, while the other ones (and the monastic communities of Mount Athos) continued and continue using the Julian Calendar.  One of several critical points: since the sixteenth-century change the discrepancy has grown so that the Julian Calendar is now thirteen days behind the astronomically correct Gregorian Calendar.

So, Christmas?  Well, Russians celebrate Christmas on what the West calls January 7th.  Mind you, their church calendars say December 25th when ours say January 7th, so they don’t really celebrate it on January 7th.  It’s just January 7th to us.  Though, actually, if you ask a Serb or a Russian when, for example, St. Nicholas’ Day is, they’ll say December 19th — meaning on our current, modern Gregorian calendar — though on their church books it’s still December 6th, when the West and Greeks celebrate it. I really don’t know what a Serb, for example, thinks when he says that January 7th is the “real” date of Christmas.  Because the date of Serbian Christmas is not January 7th. It’s December 25th; the calendar used is the only difference. Anyway: the key point is that on the Old/Julian Calendar everything is thirteen days later.

gregory xiii

Pope Gregory XIII (click)

I generally find this calendar difference to be a nuisance, one of the negatives of the decentralized structure of the Orthodox Church, mostly because you get vacation at all the wrong times and have to ask for days off, but also because, despite the often scathing condescension I feel for most of Western Christianity, I am an œcumenist at heart.  And it’s unpleasant to celebrate Christmas on a different day than other Orthodox Christians or even to celebrate Easter on a different date than the West.  On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice.  It’s nice to celebrate Easter without the cheap plastic crap of Easter Bunnies and parades all around.  And it’s nice to get to drop into church in early January when the late December craziness of Christmas in this country — no matter how hard one has tried to stay out of it — has made it impossible for you to even light a simple candle for the holiday; or, if I can’t get to a Greek church on August 15th, for example, for the Dormition of the Virgin, (or here) I can always go to a Russian one on August 28th.  But generally, I think it’s the dumbest kind of traditionalism to stick to the Old Calendar.  I mean, even if we’re so literal-minded as to think that we know when Christ was born — or even so literal-minded as to think He actually existed — we now know, scientifically, that the day we were calling December 25th is not December 25th.  So what’s the problem?  Russians, of course, make off like bandits with this deal.  Communism made New Year the most important holiday of the year, but even then everyone still celebrated Old New Year on January 13th.  Now festivities in post-communist Russia start around Western Christmas, go through New Year’s, celebrate Russian Christmas proper on January 7th, and still celebrate Old New Year on January 13th — a month of more than the usual everybody-being-plastered.

Easter?  Oh, Easter.  Why do Greeks celebrate Christmas with the West but Easter with other Orthodox Churches?  Again, a result of the decentralized structure of Orthodoxy.  The Greek Church switched to the Gregorian calendar for everything else, but, due to the fundamental centrality of Easter and the Easter cycle (Lent-Easter-Pentecost) to the faith (something the West has quite seriously lost sight of), it was decided that Greeks and Romanians would continue to calculate the date of Easter according to the Julian Calendar in order to stay in step with the others and maintain Orthodox solidarity.

“But what about January 6th then??!!” you ask, desperately seeking Christian truth.  January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany.  I repeat: January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany.  The Богоявление in Church Slavonic, Bogojavljenje — The “God Revelation,” literally, or also colloquially called Jordaninden in some South Slav languages: “Jordan Day.”  Er, like the river, right?  That’s right.  It’s the day Jesus Christ was baptized in the river Jordan by his cousin John the Baptist and the beginning of Christ’s ministry.  But this happened when Christ was 30.  He was baptized on January 6th, thus the Twelve Days of Christmas, but it was January 6th thirty years later; it’s purely coincidental that they come so close to each other, but understandable that Christian observance would lump them together into one holiday season.**  But Epiphany is not a holiday thematically related to Christmas or Christ’s birth; it’s not part of the first few weeks of His life.  It’s also purely coincidental that Epiphany comes twelve days after Christmas and that the Old and New Calendars diverge by thirteen days.  But that’s the reason people have heard of something about January 6th and think “Russian Christmas” is January 6th.  It’s not.  It’s the 7th.  January 6th is Russian Christmas Eve.  And that means Russian Epiphany is…..?  Have you been paying attention?  Very good.  January 19th.  Thirteen days later.  Though, again, Russian and Serbian Churches are celebrating it on what — for them — is January 6th.

The Epiphany is one of the Great Feasts of the Church and of great theological significance, which is really why I get so worked up about this issue.  It’s not just the day Christ was baptized in the Jordan by his cousin John the Baptist.  At the moment of His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard saying: “Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα.” “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Thus, it’s the first time that the Trinity was revealed to mankind in all three of its forms at once.  That’s what Epiphany, or Theophany, as it’s also known, (Επιφάνεια or Θεοφάνεια) mean: the “showing” or “revelation” of God — in all His forms.  It was also my father’s nameday (“Fotios,” like “photo” for light — the day is often colloquially known as “The Lights” in Greek) and an important holiday in his village.

Baptism_(Kirillo-Belozersk)

Russian icon of the Epiphany, the baptism of Jesus Christ (click)

And the Three Kings?  Three Kings’ Day is an abomination whose prohibition I will begin to work towards as soon as I am appointed to the College of Cardinals.  Honestly, sorry to be so churlish and ruin the fun of hundreds of millions of little Hispanic kids, but I genuinely find the observance to be more than mildly offensive.  I don’t care that it doesn’t make any sense textually – that the gospels are clear that within days of His birth Mary and Joseph had whisked Christ off to safety in Egypt and that they weren’t sitting around in the cold for almost two weeks waiting for these “kings” to come.  (Though it’s cool that these “kings” were likely Zoroastrian priests from Iran — searching for something they had heard would happen towards the West around the Winter Solstice — Yalda).  I just think it’s the Catholic Church at its cheapest, most propagandistic worst to let a holiday of such theological importance degenerate into a by-product of Franciscan Christ-Child piety (like most of Christmas in the West anyway) and to officially condone this sentimental tripe about frankincense and myrrh, while the real meaning of the holiday is completely forgotten, as if believers are incapable of understanding the real theology behind the day.  It’s the Catholic Church at its Grand Inquisitor worst, actually — and there I’m with Dostoyevsky: give ’em a show and a nice little parade and a cute baby, and keep their loyalty and submission; they’re too stupid to get the deep stuff anyway and you’ll only risk confusing them and then, enraged, they’ll turn on you: “Ecco homo….Ἰδοὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος.”  It’s one of the many ways that Rome still seems to be incapable of finding a way between the most ruthless authoritarianism and the cheapest populism.  Though that, of course, was exactly Dostoyevsky’s point: that the two work hand-in-hand.

Which is why, aside from its incredible power as a scene in and of itself, I find the segment from Twelve Years a Slave I posted at top to be immensely gratifying; a slave at least knew that “John” and “baptism in the Jordan” had something to do with “Three” — and not three kings

blessing-of-the-waters

In seaside parts of Greece, the “blessing of the waters” is performed, where the priest throws a cross into the sea and young men dive in to retrieve it.

A few years ago, the Turkish government permitted Greeks in İstanbul to perform the rite again, though for the Patriarch to do so at the Fanari on the Golden Horn, they generally have to call out Turkish commandos to protect the participants from the Çarşamba*** crazies from up the hill.

Oh, and just to add to the confusion, early Christians actually did celebrate the Nativity of Christ on January 6th, but the Church moved it to the 25th of December at some point so they could get a piece of the Saturnalia and Mithra-Birthday celebration market.

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* Easter is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox, thus, the first Sunday after the first Full Moon, 14-15 of Nissan — the first night of Passover — in the Jewish Calendar…I think.  In short, the first Sunday after the first night of Passover, one more indication that the New calendar is the more correct way to calculate and number things.

** On the Old Julian Calendar Easter often came so early that Carnival began in late January, thus Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, was considered the beginning of Carnival — one long winter festival season from Christmas to Ash Wednesday.  This is why Shakespeare’s play, which has nothing to do with the Epiphany, was called Twelfth Night — because it was a comedy commissioned for the beginning of Carnival.  For some reason, in the more Slavic, — yes, I said it: S-L-A-V-I-C — parts of northwestern Greece, like Lerin or Kostur, serious Carnival time is early January, and includes elements much like what we know of the Roman Saturnalia, and not the pre-Lenten season that it is elsewhere.  And he have evidence that the Byzantines celebrated a similar, Roman-Saturnalia-derived extended festive time throughout the winter.

Oh…  But what’s Carnival?  And Lent?  Ash Wednesday?  Oooofff….other posts…

*** Çarşamba is a hyper-religious — yes, I’ll just call it fundamentalist — mahalla, up the hill from the Fanari, the once entirely Greek neighborhood on the northern shore of the Old City where the Patriarchate is located.  It’s the only part of İstanbul that I, and not a few İstanbullus themselves, genuinely feel uncomfortable being in or walking through, and occasional bits of fun like Molotovs tossed into the Patriarchal compound usually come from these lovely black-clad, bearded neighbors of ours.

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City chauvinism and Zonaras’ lament

30 Dec

The reason that Byzantine Ambassador’s tweeting of Joannes Zonaras’ whine about being stuck on the Princes’ Islands — (“Adalar” or what Jews called, with wonderful syncretism, “Las Adas”) — “the end of the earth” — is funny…

— is that this (below)…

…is how far the Princes’ Islands are from Constantinople. In fact, it was generally considered that exile on the Islands was particularly painful because one could still see the City from there.

But, as the Bard said: “There is no world outside Verona walls…”

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Write us: with comments or observations, or to be put on our mailing list or to be taken off our mailing list — at nikobakos@gmail.com.

My Best of Byzantine Ambassador’s tweets for 2020

30 Dec

Check out ByzAmb (a.k.a. Henry Hopwood-Phillips) at @byzantinepower or at his website: THE BYZANTINE AMBASSADOR. He’s a tipaccio in the great tradition of truly erudite, eccentric Brits, and is always up to smart, scarily learned, quirky takes on Byzantium, Orthodoxy, what we used to call Christendom, MENA and western Eurasia more generally, and lots else.

These are my favs for this year:

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From — yes — Wiki: a good summary definition of “Archetype”, for when you use it with people and they have no clue what you’re talking about.

29 Dec

The concept of an archetype (/ˈɑːrkɪtaɪp/; from Greek: ἄρχω, árkhō, ‘to begin’ + τῠ́πος, túpos, ‘sort, type’) appears in areas relating to behavior, historical psychology, and literary analysis. An archetype can be:

  1. a statement, pattern of behavior, prototype, “first” form, or a main model that other statements, patterns of behavior, and objects copy, emulate, or “merge” into. Informal synonyms frequently used for this definition include “standard example,” “basic example,” and the longer-form “archetypal example;” mathematical archetypes often appear as “canonical examples.”
  2. the Platonic concept of pure form, believed to embody the fundamental characteristics of a thing.
  3. a collectively-inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., that is universally present, in individual psyches, as in Jungian psychology
  4. a constantly-recurring symbol or motif in literature, painting, or mythology. This definition refers to the recurrence of characters or ideas sharing similar traits throughout various, seemingly unrelated cases in classic storytelling, media, etc. This usage of the term draws from both comparative anthropology and from Jungian archetypal theory.

Archetypes are also very close analogies to instincts, in that, long before any consciousness develops, it is the impersonal and inherited traits of human beings that present and motivate human behavior.[1] They also continue to influence feelings and behavior even after some degree of consciousness developed later on.[1]

See full Wiki article.

Plato portrait bust – Capitoline Museums Rome
Carl Jung

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NikoBako reads: Dangers of Convenient Universalism: Power Relations and Responsibility of Scholars on the Hagia Sophia — Axel B. Çorlu: “The reconversion of Hagia Sophia is about power…”

23 Dec

I once got into an argument with a Turkish art historian friend of mine after I referred to the eight round canvasses with the first caliphs’ names on them (I think) in Hagia Sophia as “the hideous green billboards”. She, of course, thought they were “cool” or “pastiche-y” or “palimpsest-y”. I thought, and think, that they not only mar the space by covering the joints between the massive square space and the massive dome which are perhaps the most ingenious aspect of this miracle of Roman engineering, but that they were meant to send a clear message of who was now in charge. Hers is a typical “woke” take on these things. In the article below, Axel Çorlu highlights the dangers of such gleefully amoral, post-modern celebrations of funky “conjunctures” and how they essentially elide the historical facts of violence, persecution and appropriation from our picture of the past, and how — in the particular case of Hagia Sophia — these academics end up feeding the discourse of both Ottoman/Muslim triumphalism and the oppression and displacement of religious minorities by the nationalism of the Turkish Republic.

In short, you may want to get past “conquest narratives”; Erdoğan — who justified the reconversion by the “right of conquest” — doesn’t.

My money quotes:

They [Patricia Blessing and Ali Yaycıoğlu, titled “Beyond Conquest Narratives: Hagia Sophia, Past and Present”] conclude this section with the heart of their essay: “…in this essay, we would like to divert the conversation and discuss how the conquest narrative, which is shared by those who oppose and support the decision, does not do justice to Hagia Sophia and its architecturally, spiritually, and emotionally charged history.” This sort of interjection, very appealing to the academic mind, nonetheless includes ominous terminology such as “doing justice” to the Hagia Sophia and its “…emotionally charged history.”

This narrative at once establishes the issue of “justice,” not in the sense of the expropriation and destruction of Christian and/or minority populations and the appropriation of their cultural heritage, but as in, “Let us not be unfair to the Ottomans or the Turkish Republic…” and the fact that those who respond to the Hagia Sophia issue might be affected by the same “emotionally charged” aspects. In other words, the authors are guiding us to focus on “justice,” as long as it is to protect the powerful who do not need any protection –there appears to be no need to consider the concept of justice for the dispossessed, whom the Hagia Sophia also symbolizes. […]

While the republican regime was indeed interested in recasting the Ottoman past (usually not in a very bright light, as it also distanced itself from many of its aspects and dictated a highly selective version of its history) and kept busy trying to prove that “Turks” had existed in Anatolia for millennia through the Hittites and other ancient peoples with an eclectic mix of the racial theories and pseudo-science of the time (including the infamous obsession with the morphology and measurements of skulls), it hardly made an effort to understand, teach, or preserve its Byzantine past, let alone “making a claim” to it, if what we mean by “making a claim” is anything more than a possessive but not inclusive approach.

Indeed, the Byzantine past of Turkey remained either buried, neglected, or carefully molded in the public imagination, as nothing more than the “other” that had happened to be there before.At no point did the republic genuinely try to make a direct connection to the Byzantines beyond their role as the adversary in history textbooks, the adversary that had been vanquished, the adversary that had nothing to do with the ethnicity or cultural heritage of the people in Turkey. […]

Beyond its [the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a museum] practical use as described, it was neither part of a grand historical or intellectual vision, nor a noble gesture of “tolerance” by a regime that did its very best to eliminate the remaining diversity of cultures and religions in its lands for decades to come through acts ranging from the population exchange with Greece, to the Izmir Economics Congress of 1923 where the elimination of “foreign” bourgeoisie and its replacement with a “national” one was planned, to the Varlik Vergisi (Capital Tax) of 1942, among many other examples. Such a regime surely could not care less about multiculturalism, inclusivity, or the Byzantine past as the authors suggest. […]

This idea also worked very well for the urban Kemalist elite and their newly created middle class throughout the 20th century, because it did not require them to symbolically come to terms with the vast destruction visited upon the minorities of the land, from whom they had acquired significant aspects of their material and cultural wealth via direct or indirect appropriation

I agree that a narrative that “equates Ottoman approaches to Hagia Sophia with iconophobia and iconoclasm is incorrect” but I do not think it is necessarily “marked by Islamophobia and Orientalism” given the fact that Byzantine art and architecture suffered tremendous degradation and damage, sometimes in the name of Islam, and other times at the hands of unscrupulous republican bureaucrats, treasure hunters, or the common public in more recent times. Any scholar, casual observer, or visitor of Byzantine, Armenian, or Syriac heritage sites in Turkey will be more than cognizant of the intentional damage done to frescoes, mosaics, and other elements of Christian architecture. The damage was done over a period of centuries under different conditions, the perpetrators were/are not a homogeneous group, and the practice ranges from officially undertaken projects to “simply” neglected sites. This is an undeniable fact, and it would be disingenuous to suggest that the few token examples in the Ottoman era, republican era or today somehow represent a “preservationist” or “tolerant” attitude when in the vast majority of locations they were covered at best and destroyed at worst. …..Today, the Turkish state uses sites such as the restored Aghtamar Cathedral of the Holy Cross or the Sumela Monastery as tokens of its hollow “multiculturalism” and “tolerance.” As scholars, we have a grave responsibility to challenge this narrative. This multiculturalism narrative and tokenism of Turkey is a propaganda tool designed to cover the simultaneous appropriation and destruction of the past and the present, motivated to a significant extent by the conquest narrative. The conquest narrative was a real factor in history, and it is a real factor today. Ignoring it, reducing it to merely an “incorrect” historical interpretation, or diminishing it to an ahistorical approach is dangerous. […]

The reconversion of the Hagia Sophia is about power; in a world where power relations past and present influence the lives of millions of people, and history is weaponized for various agendas, we do not have the luxury of pretending to “stay above it” in a noncommittal manner.

The interior of Hagia Sophia with the eight “hideous green billboards”. Getty Images.

For full article, please read below:

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Dangers of Convenient Universalism: Power Relations and Responsibility of Scholars on the Hagia Sophia

2020-08-08

By Axel B. Çorlu, Ph.D.

The recent reconversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque by the (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan regime generated heated debates among scholars, politicians, and the public. A recent article by Patricia Blessing and Ali Yaycioglu, titled “Beyond Conquest Narratives: Hagia Sophia, Past and Present” offers sophisticated but ultimately convenient universalism, where both the past and the present are presented from a distorted lens, with strategic omissions.[1]

According to Blessing and Yaycioglu, there is a binary “conquest narrative” that both the supporters and opponents of the Hagia Sophia reconversion utilize, and that in essence this simplistic view does not reflect the “complex history of Ottoman Hagia Sophia.” The authors go on to label the concerns about the protection of the structure, especially regarding the issue of the mosaics as ahistorical “disinformation,” and offer a “correct” version of history.

I will follow their text in the same order, and point out the multiple issues… (see below)

Continue reading

Photos: the Sistine Chapel with its original tapestries

22 Nov
Image

Photo: dome of St. Peter’s basilica, interior: combined design of Bramante, Sagallo, Michelangelo and Giacomo della Porta, and part of Bernini’s baldacchino; “…theater and audacious confidence…”

13 Nov

The sense of theater and audacious confidence of the Italian Baroque always blows me away — a slap in the face to the snobbery of modernist minimalism — more is more…

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Arabs and the classics: “Am I gonna have to put up with this preposterous idea forever?” Probably yes…

12 Nov

…unfortunately. Or at least for as long as our fear of being labelled an un-p.c. racist makes us overcompensate in the other direction in terms of how we view the history of Arabs/Islam. And for as long as our post-Christian Christianophobia makes us unable to relate to Byzantine civilization and ignore the extent to which it was the keystone civilization of western Eurasia for a millenium and a half.

Yes.

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Modern Catholicism’s self-inflicted malaise

6 Sep

“Orthodox church is very aesthetic” says tweeter @read_the_gita

That’s because the aesthetic is not separable from the sacred, but is its bearer.  Beauty is not separable from the sacred, but is its bearer.  Symbols and images are not separable from the sacred, but are its bearer.  Music and theater are not separable from the sacred.  Code and ritual are not separable from the sacred.  A secret, not entirely intelligible, sacred language — one that you might have to devote some time and energy to in order to understand — is not separable from the sacred.  Gilded and, yes, intimidating altar gates shutting on you so that you can’t see the anaphora or consecration, and then reopening only when the Spirit is ready to share itself, is a way of underlining the sacred.

Vatican II scrapped all of that yet kept the most retrograde and horrible prohibitions and humiliating forms of moralizing discrimination.

And they’re all scratching their heads trying to figure out why their churches just keep getting emptier. I mean, I don’t want to be mean, but the photo above is almost funny; you turn the altar around so that the “people” can feel like they’re “included” and “participating” and other kinds of cheap populist ideas like that; and there’s no people there!

I’ll tell you why.  I’ll get up on a Sunday morning for a matinée production of Tristan.  I won’t get up for a thirty-minute infomercial with a guitar.  And an audience in sweatpants.

I remember stumbling onto evensong (vespers) in the Magdalen Chapel in Oxford on a rainy November night.  And like Vladimir’s envoys, I felt that “God dwelled there among men.”  And walking home to my friend’s room, I thought how ironic it was that High Church Anglicanism, born out of one of the first and most powerful rejections of Rome’s authority, had held onto more of the beauty of Christian ritual than modern Catholicism has.

Magdalen College chapel

Let’s scrap all of the above for the aesthetic and ethical equivalent of an AA meeting.

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Cavafy: Of Coloured Glass

26 Nov

“Alternating bands of brick and stone common to Byzantine architecture: anti-earthquake measures. The more elastic bricks absorb shocks and shift configuration better, preventing the stones from cracking and preserving the overall integrity of the structure.”

EKVHDsKWoAE6eFoEKVHG3WWwAATWrbEKVHErzXYAARNJS.jpgThanks @byzantinemporiaAlways wondered.  Did any one else?  Never knew.  Did any one else know?  Was none of it due to limited resources, though, at least in last few centuries?  The first two look like Byzantine/Ottoman fortifications restored by Turkish Republic (Watch out for new post on that — much criticized by Byzantino-Ottomanists but I’m not 100% sure how I feel.)

Whenever I see smaller 13th to 15th, like the smaller churches of Athens, as sumptuously decorated inside, Cavafy comes to mind — and I’m moved even more:

Screen Shot 2019-11-27 at 1.12.06 AM.png

Ἀπὸ ὑαλὶ χρωματιστό

Πολὺ μὲ συγκινεῖ μιὰ λεπτομέρεια
στὴν στέψιν, ἐν Βλαχέρναις, τοῦ Ἰωάννη Καντακουζηνοῦ
καὶ τῆς Εἰρήνης Ἀνδρονίκου Ἀσάν.
Ὅπως δὲν εἶχαν παρὰ λίγους πολυτίμους λίθους
(τοῦ ταλαιπώρου κράτους μας ἦταν μεγάλ᾿ ἡ πτώχεια)
φόρεσαν τεχνητούς. Ἕνα σωρό κομμάτια ἀπὸ ὑαλί,
κόκκινα, πράσινα ἤ γαλάζια. Τίποτε
τὸ ταπεινὸν ἤ τὸ ἀναξιοπρεπὲς
δὲν ἔχουν κατ᾿ ἐμὲ τὰ κομματάκια αὐτὰ
ἀπὸ ὐαλὶ χρωματιστό. Μοιάζουνε τουναντίον
σὰν μιὰ διαμαρτυρία θλιβερὴ
κατὰ τῆς ἄδικης κακομοιριᾶς τῶν στεφομένων.
Εἶναι τὰ σύμβολα τοῦ τί ἥρμοζε νὰ ἔχουν,
τοῦ τί ἐξ ἅπαντος ἦταν ὀρθὸν νὰ ἔχουν
στὴν στέψι των ἕνας Κὺρ Ἰωάννης Καντακουζηνός,
μιὰ Κυρία Εἰρήνη Ἀνδρονίκου Ἀσάν.

OF COLOURED GLASS
I am very moved by one detail
in the coronation at Vlachernai of John Kantakuzinos
and Irini, daughter of Andronikos Asan.
Because they had only a few precious stones
(our afflicted empire was extremely poor)
they wore artificial ones: numerous pieces of glass,
red, green, or blue. I find
nothing humiliating or undignified
in those little pieces of colored glass.
On the contrary, they seem
a sad protest against
the unjust misfortune of the couple being crowned,
symbols of what they deserved to have,
of what surely it was right that they should have
at their coronation—a Lord John Kantakuzinos,
a Lady Irini, daughter of Andronikos Asan.
Translated by Edmund Keeley

Would you be able to tell us the names of the churches if you know?

Thanks, NikoBakos

M

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