Art and Faith, Too

Friday, 26 August 2011

Unknown Artist. Pope John VII. Pinacoteca Vaticana. VATICAN CITY (Roma)

Pope John VII

Unknown Artist

8th century

Pinacoteca Vaticana. Vatican Museums



John VII (circa 650-707) (ruled 705-707) is one of the Popes of Rome labelled as being under the “Byzantine Captivity“. That terminology is asinine… “Byzantine” is a Germanic neologism of the 16th century, to use it for earlier periods is anachronistic, and we Orthodox shouldn’t tolerate its usage amongst us. In any case, Rome was under Imperial (that’s to say, New Roman) rule from 532 to 751, so, it’s natural that the Vasileos/Imperator would approve episcopal elections, just as he did in other parts of the Empire… that’s an integral part of the concept of “Symphonia”. John’s father was the imperial cura palatii urbis Romae, or Administrator of the Palatine Hill; native Romans (Latin-speaking “Italians“, if you will) were an integral part of Imperial society. In like manner, the Popes of Rome were part of the Pentarchy (the five Ancient Patriarchates, the contemporary system of Church governance within the Empire), they had no secular state (no bishop had or has that… the so-called “Papal States” only date from 756, after the collapse of New Roman Imperial (“Byzantine”) authority in Italy), nor were they “rulers” of the Church (let alone “infallible” or having “immediate jurisdiction” over every diocese). Could the papacy return to this primitive state? It could… but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen. Let’s have friendship and good will. Unity? .That’s not possible under present conditions… and all sane people know it.


Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Oratorio di San Pellegrino. Bominaco (Italy). 8th century




Much unmitigated rubbish has been written on the “early church“, both by ecumaniacs and by starry-eyed Anglo-Saxon Orthodox converts. I would observe that there were always serious differences between the Church headed by the Bishop of Rome and Patriarch of the West and the other contemporary Local Churches. Indeed, they were as often out of communion as they were in communion (1054, in fact, was an attempt at reconciliation gone horridly wrong). That being said, there was a common artistic inheritance that stood until the so-called Renaissance. It was a real legacy from Classical antiquity, not the self-conscious imitation that arose in the courts of the Medici princes and the Borgia popes. THAT was the date of the definitive break between the Church and the Roman confession. The vase is smashed… even if it were to be glued back together again, somehow, it would not be the same. That’s the reality that we live with… mistrust all who believe that we can “recapture” the “early church”… we can’t, it’s gone, and that’s all that there is to say on the matter. Nonetheless, goodwill across the border is possible, and we should reach for that. It’s something attainable, after all…


Thursday, 15 July 2010

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). The Repentant St Maria Magdalene. circa 1577

The Repentant St Maria Magdalene

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)

circa 1577

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos). Christ Carrying the Cross. 1580-85

Christ Carrying the Cross

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)


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