Beautiful Russian Sacred Icons at the New Haven Knights of Columbus Museum

If you are in the vicinity of New Haven, Connecticut within the next two weeks take the opportunity to stop by the Knights of Columbus Museum for their magnificent exhibit entitled “Windows into Heaven – Russian Icons and Treasures.”

The Museum is located at One State Street, New Haven, and offers free admission and parking. They are open from 10 to 5 pm.

For the past year it has hosted a private collection of spectacular Russian sacred icons and liturgical artifacts. It is the finest collection of Russian sacred icons that I have observed in the Northeast owing to the fact that each of the icons and treasures are in excellent condition.

You will enjoy artifacts such as a 7th century Byzantine Reliquary (bronze, traces of gold plate, and blue enamel) and three rooms of sacred icons encompassing the portrayal of Jesus Christ, His Mother – the Blessed Theotokos, much loved saints, and angels.

Their website,  www.kofcmuseum.org/en/index.html provides a wonderful overview of the 225 pieces that are on exhibit. They mention that “few customs or traditions have endured for longer than a millennium, but the use of icons in Russia is among them. In this exhibition, the Knights of Columbus Museum is pleased to share more than examples of Russian Orthodox iconography, along with other liturgical and devotional items.

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Icons are often called windows into heaven because they are said to give the viewer a glimpse of the eternal realm. Many of the items are more than 100 years old, predating the Bolshevik Revolution (1917).

In AD 988 Prince Vladimir of Kiev converted to Orthodox Christianity, and he persuaded his countrymen and women to do the same. Thus, iconography was introduced as a means of fostering religious understanding and devotion among all the people of Kievan Rus (present day Ukraine, Belarus and northwest Russia).

The artistic traditon followed the strict models and formulas of the Byzantine Greek Orthodox tradition (these artistic practices developed in Constantinople and Greece and spread both East and West). Ultimately, the Russian sacred art tradition developed its own distinctive styles within each major city of Russia.

As a form of sacred art, iconographers historically prayed or fasted before and during the creation of an icon. Traditionally, icons were painted in egg tempera on wood and often accented with gold leaf or covered with ornately gilt metal covers called rizas. Rich in symbolism, they are still used extensively in Orthodox churches and monasteries, and many Russian homes have icons hanging on the wall in a “beautiful” (or prayer) corner.”

“Icons have been synonymous with Christian prayer and practice for centuries,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “One of the great traditions of Eastern Christianity, icons are less well known here, and we are pleased that this exhibit will enable residents of the Northeast to grow in their understanding of the history and religious significance of these windows into heaven.” This exhibit concludes on April 27, 2014.

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Viewing this exhibit during Holy Week or the First Week of Easter leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday and the canonization of Pope John 23rd and Pope John Paul 2 on April 27th would be of great assistance in your joyful experience of the reality of the resurrected Christ. My prayers are with you for a prayerful Holy Week and a blessed Easter Season!

Copyright © 2011- 2014 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All Rights Reserved. The sacred icons shown are taken from the Knights of Columbus website which offers a history of each sacred image or artifact exhibited.

 

 

One thought on “Beautiful Russian Sacred Icons at the New Haven Knights of Columbus Museum

  1. UNIVERSAL CHURCH ICONOGRAPHY
    Illustrated Creed
    “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, … And was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again … and the life of the world to come. Amen.”1

    1. IMAGE/ICON OF GOD AND THE CREATION OF THE WORLD → AT CHURCH ENTRANCE2
    2. SCENES FROM THE COMMON SACRED HISTORY → ALONG ONE WALL/ICONOSTAS, E.G.:
    FALL OF ADAM AND EVE
    NOAH AND THE FLOOD
    SACRIFICE OF ABRAHAM
    MOSES AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
    NATIVITY OF CHRIST
    FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
    JESUS IN THE CARPENTER SHOP
    CRUCIFIXION
    RESURRECTION
    DESCENT OF HOLY SPIRIT ON THE APOSTLES / APOSTOLIC COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM
    CONSTANTINE’S EDICT OF 313 / COUNCIL OF CARTHAGE IN 397 AND THE BIBLE CANON
    CHURCH OF SAINT PETER’S IN ROME / OUR LADY OF KAZAN IN SAINT PETERSBURG
    3. SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF A FAITHFUL INDIVIDUAL → ALONG OTHER WALL/ICONOSTAS, E.G.:
    GOOD WORKS – GOOD SAMARITAN / ZACCHAEUS
    PRAYER – REPENTANCE PRAYER OF THE PUBLICAN / THE GOOD THIEF
    SEVEN SACRAMENTS – SAINT LEOPOLD MANDICH / SAINT PIO IN THE CONFESSIONAL
    4. ALTAR RAIL / ANCIENT STYLE LOW ICONOSTAS → IN FRONT OF APSE AND ALTAR
    5. LECTERN PORTABLE → IN FRONT OF ALTAR
    6. IMAGE/ICON OR STATUE OF MARY WITH THE CHILD → LEFT OF ALTAR
    7. THE FIFTEEN SCENES OF THE ROSARY → LEFT WALL OR ICONOSTAS
    8. IMAGE/ICON OR STATUE OF CHRIST THE TEACHER → RIGHT OF ALTAR
    9. THE WAY OF THE CROSS, INCLUDING DESCENT INTO HADES → RIGHT WALL OR ICONOSTAS3
    10. TABLE OF PREPARATION → LEFT OF ALTAR
    11. ALTAR → CENTRE OF APSE
    12. TABERNACLE → CENTRE OF ALTAR4
    13. CRUCIFIX → ON ALTAR
    14. IMAGE/ICON OF LAST SUPPER, THE FIRST EUCHARIST/MASS IN JERUSALEM → IN FRONT OF ALTAR5
    15. IMAGE/ICON OF ETERNAL LIFE DEPICTING THE SAINTS AND GOD → IN CHURCH APSE6
    REFERENCES. Abbreviation: e.g. – for example. 1 Illustrated Creed is a depiction of the entire Creed, from the beginning to the end, thus proclaiming Christian Faith in pictures, including pictures in stained glass windows – a synergy of faith and art, good and beautiful, and a perfect and unsurpassable artistic masterpiece of Christian civilization. The ideal church building, the house of God’s people, is a sacred functional/practical symbol of timeless form and proportion, containing images of sacred persons and events from the beginning of creation to the glorification in heaven. The shape of a church dome may be symbolic of the rainbow from Genesis 9:16 and the cross on its top is a sign of the New Covenant. Simplicity of design in parish churches is helpful for their economical maintenance; symmetrical and well-proportioned design gives beauty to a church building in which Eucharist/Liturgy/Mass and other Sacraments are celebrated for the glory of God and for human sanctification, e.g., churches in Jerusalem, Constantinople, Kiev, Saint Petersburg, Rome, Montréal, Washington, San Francisco and Mexico. 2 This is an original 2013 Slavic synthesis based on Genesis 1:1-31, Exodus 3:14, Colossians 1:16, and Church Tradition, and a correction of theologically-deficient, though artistically excellent, Renaissance painting in the famous Sistine Chapel in Rome, which also lacks scenes from the Rosary and the Way of the Cross, popularized after the 16th century; see Santa Sofia basilica in Rome. 3 The 15th station of the Way of the Cross, Christ’s descent into hell on Good Friday, is an original Slavic-Italian sequel (final) published in 2006. 4 See: Saint Francis of Assisi church in Mississauga, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, and others, http://ewtn.com/ library/curia/cdwinoec.htm – the centrality of the tabernacle. 5 See: Saint Francis of Assisi church in Toronto and a multitude of others. 6 This picture, like the 15th station of the Way of the Cross, beautifully and perfectly rounds out the illustrated Creed into a fitting and irreplaceable whole; see: apse of San Vitale in Ravenna, painting of Domenico Ghirlandaio, and many others. See also: http://newadvent.org/cathen/05257a.htm; http://sacredarchitecture.org; Pope John Paul II’s letter commemorating the 12th centenary of Nicea II, Rome, 1987; Paul Evdokimov, L’Art de l’icône: théologie de ta beauté, Paris, 1972; Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Rome, 1963; Pope John Paul II (promulgator), Catéchisme de l’Eglise catholique, Rome, 1992; Josef A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman rite, New York, 1951. Prepared by Slavic Christian Society / Société Chrétienne Slave / Slăviansko Xristianskoe Sŏbranie, Mississauga http://slavxrist.org 1999; originally published in Polish as Uniwersalna Ikonografia Kościoła: Ilustrowane Credo, Mississauga http://kolbe.ca 1999. English edition: (1) Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Polish Roman Catholic Church, Mississauga, 1999; (2) revised according to the 2013 Croatian edition Univerzalno Crkveno Slikarstvo: Ilustrirano Vjerovanje – blessed by Bishop Bogović, published by Knights of Columbus, Council 12922, 1883 King St. E., Hamilton, ON L8K 1V9 https://kofc.org/en 12.2.2016.

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