1. Jeff

    Excellent and informative, thank you very much. I hope to visit this basilica in 2018.

  2. Gail Gray

    I so enjoyed reading this article and found it not only educational but spiritually moving. Thank you!

  3. Father Garabed Kochakian

    I commend this study as a ‘first’ to be done. As a young man in my 30’s, I beheld the beauty of this mosaic in Ravenna, contemplating all that appeared and for years trying to understand the conflation of imagery therein. Thank you now for the clarity of this revelation and explanation.

  4. Brilliant! I wish we would see some more of this kind of creative and deep interpretation in church iconography today. The platytera in the apse; pantokrator in the dome; etc, although of course traditional and significant, are not the only things we can put in our churches.

    In general I would say the West has a richer iconographic tradition when it comes to creative variation in mural schema than the East does. Perhaps we could look to some of these examples for inspiration.

  5. Aidan Hart

    Thank you everyone. I quite agree, Fr. Justin, that the Eastern Orthodox Church could learn a lot from the creative approach of the early Western Church when it comes to expressing timeless theological truths in its church schema. It is not a matter of being artistically creative for its own sake, but of being more theologically and pastorally alive so that we can express timeless things in a fresh way in order to wake us up. The effect of seeing exactly the same iconography again and again, no matter how profound its original conception might be, can be to put us to sleep spiritually rather than open our noetic eyes.

    1. Absolutely! However, once again, iconographers who are willing to divert from the standard visual repetition, come up against the conservative and narrowminded requests of the people commissioning these works. Even when we do have good and creative alternatives to the usual imagery, we are discouraged and repressed. How does one overcome this obstacle and encourage the commissioners of these works to open their minds a bit? Perhaps that could make a good article for the OAJ ?.

      I suppose it’s like you said, Aidan: the root of the problem is a superficial spiritual life. Perhaps if we all lived our faith more profoundly the many creative theological visual alternatives wouldn’t seem so controversial.

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