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Western Rite in pictures: what I mean

scamandrius

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The young fogey said:
I know this church.  I used to go there after school on Fridays and chant Vespers with the priest.  There's nothing wrong with it.
 

Serge

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The apsidal painting in Santa Maria in Cosmedin is good and old, and suggests/parallels but doesn't imitate modern Byzantine Rite art. I'm all for it, as I am for the the same kind of art in the apse of the abbey church at Barroux in the original post.

scamandrius, I'm all for a non-byzantinized version of this church. If one wants to be Byzantine, there is the Byzantine Rite.

Santa Maria Antiqua notwithstanding, again, taking John of Shanghai and San Francisco at his word, the point is you don't have to byzantinize to be Orthodox, right?
 

augustin717

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Alpha60 said:
The young fogey said:
Thanks for the information on the templon.

juliogb said:



Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Italy, a roman catholic church/greek melkite parish.
Wonderful! Imagine that without the Byzantine furnishings the Melkites are using here and you'd have an example of what I'm proposing.
That makes no sense, because the Apse is decorated with Byzantine artwork.  With the Melkite furnishings, you're simply seeing the ancient church furnished in a manner consistent with how it was likely furnished when built.
the church was built by refugee, iconodule Syrian monks.
 

Alpha60

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The young fogey said:
The apsidal painting in Santa Maria in Cosmedin is good and old, and suggests/parallels but doesn't imitate modern Byzantine Rite art.
It does, it directly does.  There is no visual discontinuity at all; the archaeologists even classify the artwork as Byzantine.  You do realize by the way that Rome, in the unpleasant years after the fall of the Western Empire, until even after the schism, was sending to Constantinople for artisans?  Rome in the 6th and 7th centuries was entirely a participant of the Byzantine culture; only Conatantinople was more important, but Byzantine culture cannot be understood as something that suddenly appeared in Asia Minor and then spread like a cancer into the pure Classical Latin West; the word Byzantine ifself should be removed from this discussion, since Byzantine ultimately comes to mean anything produced by the culture of the late Roman Empire. in either Rome or New Rome.

So there is no "St. Maria Antiqua not withstanding."  When St. John said you don't have to be Eastern, he meant that you did not have to have a priest wearing a phelonion and epitrachelion instead of a stole and chasuble, that you do not have to sing the Troparia and Kontakia of the feast day or the Prokeimenon, but can instead continue to have a Eucharistic liturgy with introits, collects, graduals, and the other Propers proper to the Western liturgical Rite. 

What he did not say was that there was some way for you to completely cut the umbelical cord linking the entire Christian civiliaation, and the Islamic one, for that matter, to the ancient Roman Empire and its culture.  You can be Orthodox wihout being Eastern, but I doubt you can be Orthodox without being Roman. 
 

Alpha60

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Mor Ephrem said:
Alpha60 said:
You can be Orthodox wihout being Eastern, but I doubt you can be Orthodox without being Roman.
We're not Roman, so I guess we're screwed.
I see your point.

Let me try this again:

I propose that, as the church of Santa Maria Antiqua demonstrates, you cannot separate Byzantine from Roman.  It is a false dichotomy.

I propose that in this one respect, Fr. John C. Romanides, who I usually disregard, had a compelling point, that the very word Byzantine is divisive, misleading and creates false impressions.
 

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I acknowledge that John of Shanghai and San Francisco's words on not having to be Eastern were only his opinion, not Orthodox doctrine. That said, I take him at his word: either you don't have to be Eastern or forget it; let's all adopt Byzantium's ways. "You don't have to be Eastern" doesn't mean "let's use the Roman Missal and vestments but otherwise copy the Byzantine Rite." I am not writing this due to any hostility to the Byzantine Rite. My home prayer life is largely Byzantine and I go to church in that rite once a month.

Another look that gets a big thumbs-up from me both generally and for my proposal in this thread, reminiscent of Santa Maria in Cosmedin: the Church of the Evangelists (Episcopal), in South Philadelphia (7th and Catharine Streets) before that area was Italian, built by sincere high-Episcopal churchmen in the late 1800s. It's now an art museum.

Simpatico with the Orthodox ethos and not at all byzantinized.

 

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Alpha60 said:
You can be Orthodox [without] being Eastern, but I doubt you can be Orthodox without being Roman.
I know what you mean.  The term Byzantine was adopted by 16th century historians to refer to the fallen Eastern Roman Empire, based on the ancient name of Constantinople.  However, the "byzantines" continued to refer to themselves as Romans or Ρωμαίων after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, since they were its remnant.
 

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Tbh I think people make too big a mountain out of this molehill. Some version of 'byzantium' continued to be used as a name (or nickname, if you like) for the city of Constantinople right up till the time the empire died. I don't think there is anything wrong with the term as a catch-all for the empire that was (usually) headquartered in Constantinople. People can nitpick just about any name for the empire. Personally I think it preferable to 'Roman empire' or 'Eastern Roman empire.'
 

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Palatine Chapel of the Aachen Cathedral, Germany.


Capela Pallatina of Palermo, Italy


 

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The young fogey said:
I acknowledge that John of Shanghai and San Francisco's words on not having to be Eastern were only his opinion, not Orthodox doctrine. That said, I take him at his word: either you don't have to be Eastern or forget it; let's all adopt Byzantium's ways. "You don't have to be Eastern" doesn't mean "let's use the Roman Missal and vestments but otherwise copy the Byzantine Rite." I am not writing this due to any hostility to the Byzantine Rite. My home prayer life is largely Byzantine and I go to church in that rite once a month.

Another look that gets a big thumbs-up from me both generally and for my proposal in this thread, reminiscent of Santa Maria in Cosmedin: the Church of the Evangelists (Episcopal), in South Philadelphia (7th and Catharine Streets) before that area was Italian, built by sincere high-Episcopal churchmen in the late 1800s. It's now an art museum.

Simpatico with the Orthodox ethos and not at all byzantinized.

Other than the statues, I'd guess.
 

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The young fogey said:
Volnutt said:
Other than the statues, I'd guess.
If you really don't have to be Eastern to be Orthodox, the question's moot.
You don't have to be Eastern to be Orthodox, but at the same time you must renounce the deviations of the Roman Church from Orthodoxy since the schism.  Realistic statuary of the Renaissance School is completely inappropriate.

What St. John of Shanghai did not say was "You don't have to give up artwork that the ancient Church interpreted as pagan in order to be Orthodox."  The works of sculpture used in the Roman state religion, while exquisite, have no place in the Orthodox Church, and neither does their style. 

I am not calling for an iconoclastic (or should I say, idolclastic, since these statues do not meet the criteria for Iconography established by the Seventh Ecumenical Council) purge of existing Renaissance era Catholic churches.  However, the Western Rite Orthodox are merely following the ancient canons of the pre-schism church in excluding statuary and limiting bas-relief.

Also, remember, all depictions of God the Father are forbidden by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.  Strictly speaking, I think there are grounds for the Sistine Chapel to be retired and made a museum, as the extensive artwork by Michaelangelo is a cultural treasure worthy of preservation which, ar the same time, renders the space entirely inappropriate for Catholic worship.

Probably the worst offender among the churches in Rome is the Pantheon; it is a beautiful, converted Pagan temple, but decorating it with statues rather than holy icons just seems a huge concession to Paganism, an actual syncretism.

The Renaissance Catholic Church lost the plot when it came to icons; I blame this on the extremely corrupt post-schismatic papacy that reached its nadir with the Borgias and Pope Julius II; it was not until Pope Pius V and the Council of Trent that we see the re-emergence of an authentic piety and dedication among the upper echelons of the Roman church.  If memory serves, the Counter Reformation did also take aim at the excesses of Renaissance era art, but not enough aim, as it were, which is why we continue to find into the Baroque era, and then once more in the Neo Classical and Romanticist era, revivals of discredited aesthetics.

Acceptable Western iconography does exist, and I also consider the stained glass window to be the unique Western form of iconographic expression par excellence.  So whereas the Eastern churches focused on icons that reflected light, we see in many Western Cathedrals a focus on translucent windows which took the external light of the sun and used it to illuminate the icon in a spectacular way.    The stained glass window does however suffer from one tragic defect, and that is that it doesn't work at night; I believe the predominance of the reflective painted icon in the East owes in part to a culture that values worship after dusk and before dawn; it is congruent with the Eastern practice of the main Paschal liturgy being served at night, vs. in the morning in most of the Western church. 

However, a Western Rite Orthodox church can compensate for this by relying on a mix of stained glass windows, Byzantine and Romanesque iconography.
 

Iconodule

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Alpha60 said:
What St. John of Shanghai did not say was "You don't have to give up artwork that the ancient Church interpreted as pagan in order to be Orthodox."  The works of sculpture used in the Roman state religion, while exquisite, have no place in the Orthodox Church, and neither does their style. 
This is nonsense. Catholic sculptures are not "works of sculpture used in the Roman state religion," anymore than 2-dimensional icons are holdovers from Pharaonic paganism.  And, as has been pointed out elsewhere, there are in fact some examples of statues used in Eastern Christian worship.

However, the Western Rite Orthodox are merely following the ancient canons of the pre-schism church in excluding statuary and limiting bas-relief.
Name a single "ancient canon" excluding statuary or limiting bas-relief.

Also, remember, all depictions of God the Father are forbidden by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.
Feel free to cite the relevant ruling from the council. If you can, you'd be doing a lot better than most opponents of these icons. Hint: there isn't one. It would also be rather ridiculous for Orthodox to require Catholics to scrub their God-the-Father depictions since such images appear prominently in many, many important Orthodox churches. 
 

Alpha60

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Note btw I am not accusing the RCC of Paganism; this charge is unfounded and I have defended your church against these claims with ferocity on other forums.

I am merely pointing out that, starting really in the Gothic era, but reaching a nadir under the Borgias and Julius II, the Roman church ignored the ancient canonical norms concerning iconography and instead commissioned artistic projects in a style inspired by the classical artwork of pre-Christian Rome.  Refusing the use of this ill-advised and often rather vulgar artwork in the holy spaces of the temple is not a Byzantinization.

It would defeat the purpose of Western Rite Orthodoxy to do either of the following: commission a parish in a neo-Renaissance style, with reproductions of the paintings and statuary of the great Renaissance artists, and also to serve the Divine Liturgy according to the Roman Use with practically any music newer than Palestrina; the directives of your own St. Pius X concerning sacred music form a good starting point for the liturgical music of Western Rite Orthodoxy (I would argue that when it came to music and liturgics, Pius X posessed an Orthodox phronema, even if his doctrinal views on other issues were thoroughly corrupted by the errors of the Schoolmen, and the still greater errors of the Jesuits; the predominantly Dominican Scholastic corpus can be partilly reconciled with an Orthodox Palamist theology, for example, there is a superb book entitled Orthodox Readings of Aquinas, but the Jesuits wrecked things quite a bit).
 

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Iconodule said:
Alpha60 said:
What St. John of Shanghai did not say was "You don't have to give up artwork that the ancient Church interpreted as pagan in order to be Orthodox."  The works of sculpture used in the Roman state religion, while exquisite, have no place in the Orthodox Church, and neither does their style. 
This is nonsense. Catholic sculptures are not "works of sculpture used in the Roman state religion," anymore than 2-dimensional icons are holdovers from Pharaonic paganism.  And, as has been pointed out elsewhere, there are in fact some examples of statues used in Eastern Christian worship.

However, the Western Rite Orthodox are merely following the ancient canons of the pre-schism church in excluding statuary and limiting bas-relief.
Name a single "ancient canon" excluding statuary or limiting bas-relief.

Also, remember, all depictions of God the Father are forbidden by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.
Feel free to cite the relevant ruling from the council. If you can, you'd be doing a lot better than most opponents of these icons. Hint: there isn't one. It would also be rather ridiculous for Orthodox to require Catholics to scrub their God-the-Father depictions since such images appear prominently in many, many important Orthodox churches.
You might be right on the canons; I may have had a bit of an error of recollection.  However, I am opposed, like many, to the images of God the Father that appear in places like St. Savior's in Moscow, although we do have a slight Get Out of Jail Free card on this point via the interpretation that icons depicting the Ancient of Days are acceptable, because this, logically, was the Logos and not the Father based on John 1:18.  Where it becomes an insurmountable object is when you have an icon attempting to depict each person of the Trinity, in the form of our Lord, an old man and a dove.

Because our Lord is the perfect icon of the Father, any direct iconographic depiction of the Father is, at best, superfluous. 

Do we paint these over?  Probably not.  However, when it comes to building new Western Rite churches, we don't need to repeat these blunders, which were more commonly made in the West than in the East.

 

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Alpha60 said:
However, I am opposed, like many, to the images of God the Father that appear in places like St. Savior's in Moscow, although we do have a slight Get Out of Jail Free card on this point via the interpretation that icons depicting the Ancient of Days are acceptable, because this, logically, was the Logos and not the Father based on John 1:18.
Patristic interpretation- and the logic of the text of Daniel itself- generally points to the Ancient of Days representing the Father.

Where it becomes an insurmountable object is when you have an icon attempting to depict each person of the Trinity, in the form of our Lord, an old man and a dove.
An insurmountable object? Meaning what? What implications does that have for the numerous Orthodox churches that do exactly that?

Do we paint these over?  Probably not.  However, when it comes to building new Western Rite churches, we don't need to repeat these blunders, which were more commonly made in the West than in the East.
One would first have to really establish that they are blunders. As far as reception goes, we are likely to get existing churches before we build new ones, and it's hardly reasonable to apply an ill-founded puritanism to them that we don't practice among ourselves.
 

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Iconodule said:
Alpha60 said:
However, I am opposed, like many, to the images of God the Father that appear in places like St. Savior's in Moscow, although we do have a slight Get Out of Jail Free card on this point via the interpretation that icons depicting the Ancient of Days are acceptable, because this, logically, was the Logos and not the Father based on John 1:18.
Patristic interpretation- and the logic of the text of Daniel itself- generally points to the Ancient of Days representing the Father.

Where it becomes an insurmountable object is when you have an icon attempting to depict each person of the Trinity, in the form of our Lord, an old man and a dove.
An insurmountable object? Meaning what? What implications does that have for the numerous Orthodox churches that do exactly that?

Do we paint these over?  Probably not.  However, when it comes to building new Western Rite churches, we don't need to repeat these blunders, which were more commonly made in the West than in the East.
One would first have to really establish that they are blunders. As far as reception goes, we are likely to get existing churches before we build new ones, and it's hardly reasonable to apply an ill-founded puritanism to them that we don't practice among ourselves.
Most of the existing churches we get are, and will continue to be, disused Mainline Protestant churches which were replaced in the 70s-90s by the last desperate building phase of the mainline jurisdictions, and these churches tend to be devoid of iconography other than some nice stained glass windows.

My view is that most Catholic parishes don't have the iconographic problems we are discussing, furthermore.  And if we did get control of the Vatican, which of course we won't except in the mind of some fanatic Russian imperialist who dreams of Vladimir Putin sweeping across Europe leading a charge of nuclear-scimitar wielding Cossack Bear Cavalry, it would be cultural vandalism to remove the artwork in question.

But if we do manage to obtain, say, the First Presbyterian or Second Congregational Church in Hickborough, I propose that we should avoid statuary, depictions of the Trinity beyond the "three angels" icon or the icons of the Theophany, and generally employ a mix of Byzantine and Romanesque iconography so that, over time and after sufficient expenditure, the results might look something like Santa Maria Antiqua.

Note, for purposes of statuary, I am talking about works such as the Pietas of Bernini.  I don't regard the three dimensional crucifix on the Rood Screen as a problem.

I think we can also draw a distinction between decoration and iconography; a church can be decorated with items such as grotesques or gargoyles which are obviously not icons and not intended for veneration; I suppose the case could even be made that the Sistine Chapel is serviceable on these grounds.
 

Alpha60

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Iconodule said:
Alpha60 said:
However, I am opposed, like many, to the images of God the Father that appear in places like St. Savior's in Moscow, although we do have a slight Get Out of Jail Free card on this point via the interpretation that icons depicting the Ancient of Days are acceptable, because this, logically, was the Logos and not the Father based on John 1:18.
Patristic interpretation- and the logic of the text of Daniel itself- generally points to the Ancient of Days representing the Father.

Where it becomes an insurmountable object is when you have an icon attempting to depict each person of the Trinity, in the form of our Lord, an old man and a dove.
An insurmountable object? Meaning what? What implications does that have for the numerous Orthodox churches that do exactly that?

Do we paint these over?  Probably not.  However, when it comes to building new Western Rite churches, we don't need to repeat these blunders, which were more commonly made in the West than in the East.
One would first have to really establish that they are blunders. As far as reception goes, we are likely to get existing churches before we build new ones, and it's hardly reasonable to apply an ill-founded puritanism to them that we don't practice among ourselves.
By the way, I should add, you might well be right in your views on this subject, which reflect a level of nuance I appreciate.  I am inclined to reassess my views based on your reasoning here.  I would be interested to know, however, at what point, if at any, you might draw the line between acceptable iconography and unacceptable iconography?  Perhaps the RC devotional artwork depicting the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of our Lord and the Theotokos?
 

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Alpha60 said:
Where it becomes an insurmountable object is when you have an icon attempting to depict each person of the Trinity, in the form of our Lord, an old man and a dove.


^The topmost icon in my icon corner.  Let the haters hate. 
 

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I think we should all be extremely cautious in issuing criteria for acceptable and unacceptable iconography. Iconography should conform broadly to the Orthodox faith, and not teach heresy; it should inspire piety and not blasphemous or impure thoughts. Above all it should emanate from the mystery of the incarnation and the transfiguration of created life by Christ. But within those bounds there is a lot of room for varying styles and expressions. Art is not subjective, but it is multifaceted, and someone coming from the wrong angle can see all kinds of things that aren't important, and miss all kinds of things that are. That seems evident to me in some of the Orthodox critiques broadly dismissing western iconography as sensuous, materialistic, etc., while these works of art are in fact made and experienced in a quite different spirit.

I think sacred and immaculate hearts are weird. The iconography and the prayers are just odd to me and I have no interest in bringing them into my church or my private prayer life. But I wasn't brought up in the spiritual culture that produced those devotions and when I hear them explained by Catholics who were so brought up, they make more sense to me, even if I can't see myself ever developing a taste for them. The standard Orthodox dismissals ("they're worshiping body parts!") ring hollow. 

Somewhat likewise, I find a lot of baroque religious painting to be trite and unworthy, but I don't feel competent to stand in judgment of sincere Christians who do find such art inspiring and want to keep it. It's quite possible I'm missing something.
 

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Ambrosian rite in the Pantheon. Note the icon of the Theotokos.

 

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I chose the Church of the Evangelists for an example because it's entirely Western and not the kind of architecture and statuary that Alpha60 is talking about; it's medieval-style (a copy of an old church in Italy), not Renaissance or baroque. Alpha60 sees a statue and jumps to the wrong conclusion. I'm not saying mimic Tridentine Rome; I'm saying be entirely Western in these places.
 

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Iconodule said:
I think we should all be extremely cautious in issuing criteria for acceptable and unacceptable iconography. Iconography should conform broadly to the Orthodox faith, and not teach heresy; it should inspire piety and not blasphemous or impure thoughts. Above all it should emanate from the mystery of the incarnation and the transfiguration of created life by Christ. But within those bounds there is a lot of room for varying styles and expressions. Art is not subjective, but it is multifaceted, and someone coming from the wrong angle can see all kinds of things that aren't important, and miss all kinds of things that are. That seems evident to me in some of the Orthodox critiques broadly dismissing western iconography as sensuous, materialistic, etc., while these works of art are in fact made and experienced in a quite different spirit.
+1

I think sacred and immaculate hearts are weird. The iconography and the prayers are just odd to me and I have no interest in bringing them into my church or my private prayer life. But I wasn't brought up in the spiritual culture that produced those devotions and when I hear them explained by Catholics who were so brought up, they make more sense to me, even if I can't see myself ever developing a taste for them. The standard Orthodox dismissals ("they're worshiping body parts!") ring hollow. 
+1

Somewhat likewise, I find a lot of baroque religious painting to be trite and unworthy, but I don't feel competent to stand in judgment of sincere Christians who do find such art inspiring and want to keep it. It's quite possible I'm missing something.
+1!
 

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Iconodule said:
I think we should all be extremely cautious in issuing criteria for acceptable and unacceptable iconography. Iconography should conform broadly to the Orthodox faith, and not teach heresy; it should inspire piety and not blasphemous or impure thoughts. Above all it should emanate from the mystery of the incarnation and the transfiguration of created life by Christ. But within those bounds there is a lot of room for varying styles and expressions. Art is not subjective, but it is multifaceted, and someone coming from the wrong angle can see all kinds of things that aren't important, and miss all kinds of things that are. That seems evident to me in some of the Orthodox critiques broadly dismissing western iconography as sensuous, materialistic, etc., while these works of art are in fact made and experienced in a quite different spirit.

I think sacred and immaculate hearts are weird. The iconography and the prayers are just odd to me and I have no interest in bringing them into my church or my private prayer life. But I wasn't brought up in the spiritual culture that produced those devotions and when I hear them explained by Catholics who were so brought up, they make more sense to me, even if I can't see myself ever developing a taste for them. The standard Orthodox dismissals ("they're worshiping body parts!") ring hollow. 

Somewhat likewise, I find a lot of baroque religious painting to be trite and unworthy, but I don't feel competent to stand in judgment of sincere Christians who do find such art inspiring and want to keep it. It's quite possible I'm missing something.
This seems reasonable and correct.  God bless you, and thank you for presenting me with this insight, which I feel extremely comfortable with, as it resolves some of my own struggles concerning iconographic inconsistencies within the Church.  Once, I nearly fell into the trap of full-on anti-ecumenical Old Calendarism, but was delivered from it in that case not by reasoned discourse but rather by observing cult like destructive behavior.  Sometimes I fall into the temptation of an excessive zeal which obscures the faith or harms my appreciation of it.
 

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The young fogey said:
I chose the Church of the Evangelists for an example because it's entirely Western and not the kind of architecture and statuary that Alpha60 is talking about; it's medieval-style (a copy of an old church in Italy), not Renaissance or baroque. Alpha60 sees a statue and jumps to the wrong conclusion. I'm not saying mimic Tridentine Rome; I'm saying be entirely Western in these places.
First of all, I was in error regarding the statuary; secondly, I did not mention architecture (curiously, I have remained a fan of modern church architecture even while harboring an overly zealous view of icons which Iconodule has disabused me of).

Now, here is my main point: I don't believe you can separate Byzantine from Roman, and therefore, Byzantine iconography and architecture, which are present in the West, especially in Italy, which one might expect since really, the Byzantine style was simply the prevailing artistic style of the Roman Empire during its slow decline, remaining dominant even in the West until the later emergence of the derivative Romanesque style (which is clearly a development of Byzantine architecture, in the same category as Islamic architecture, and later, the architecture of post-reconquista Spain and Portugal and their colonies).

Thus, a Byzantine icon is a valid form of Western or Eastern artistic expression, as the Baptistries in Ravenna, the Venetian churches, and the Roman churches demonstrate.  Every church that has a hemispherical painted dome in the Apse is in that respect Byzantine; the basillica augmented by a dome at the intersection of the nave and transept, with a half dome behind the apse, is the Byzantine pattern. 

What would be an Oriental intrusion into a Western Rite church would be if we took Syriac Orthodox icons, for example, from the Rabbula Gospel, or Ethiopian Orthodox icons, and used them.  Given the connection between the Coptic monastic tradition and the Irish monasteries, it is harder for me to admit that Coptic icons (my personal favourite style) would also be out of place.  However, no one is doing this; when the Syriac Orthodox Church in India had a Western Rite community in Sri Lanka, which has sadly disappeared, we did not, to my knowledge, force any of our icons on them; actually, for various reasons, Syriac icons tend to be displaced by Western icons.

However, the Eastern Orthodox Church is sufficiently culturally connected with the West that the Byzantine style of iconography at least is applicable in a Western cultural context.

The Church of Georgia apparently had a distinctive iconographic style similiar to that of the Armenian and Iberian-Albanian Orthodox Churches, just as their churches share the same distinctive conical domed or cupolas vs. the hemispherical Byzantine domes, and one tragedy of the Kingdom of Georgia being forced by the Islamic threat into union with Czarist Russia was the destruction of this iconography.  The new Russian bishops appointed to replace the Georgians, who were viewed with unwarranted suspicion caused horrible cultural damage by painting over the interiors of Georgian churches.  That the distinctive beauty of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the form of its triphonal chant, the writings of its saints and so on, survived the attempted Russification by the same bureaucratic, notoriously incompetent Holy Synod that had earlier tried to destroy its own cultural heritage with the persecution of the Old Believers, is a miracle.  That said, to the extent that this style of Georgian iconography, or for that mattter, distinctive styles of Russian iconography we see in the works of Andrei Rublev, and others, depart from classical Byzantine forms, you could have a point in objecting to them.

But at that, why bother?  The most watched liturgical event of the past decade was the wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate, and this beautiful Anglican service in the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster was enriched by the presence of Byzantine icons installed on the great gothic columns on either side of the Altar.  Many Anglican and Roman churches are enriching their interiors, even with Ethiopian, Coptic and Russian icons which are not a part of their own liturgical patrimony. 

Who would not want to venerate the icon of the 20 New Coptic Martyrs in Libya?  It is as natural and proper as venerating Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I venerate the national icon of Mexico in thanksgiving for God delivering the Mexican people from Aztec paganism, the most diabolical religion I have seen, organized as it was primarily around human sacrifice, a deliverance which was voluntary and facilitated by that icon (attempts by the Conquistadors to suppress the religion by the sword failed to produce an authentic conversion; at best, Hernan Cortes may have stopped the mass murders at the major temples, but with great and ironic bloodshed and with the un-Christian murder of Moctezuma).  Our Lady of Guadalupe persuaded the Mexican people to voluntarily come to Christ, and now the Mexicans are increasingly entering the fullness of the Christian faith with the growth of the Orthodox missions in that country.

In like manner, who would not want to venerate the 19 cradle Copts, and the sole Ghanaian baptized by blood, in a savage attrocity of ISIS?  In one minute, these African men became perfected, glorified saints; in killing them, ISIS made them infinitely more powerful and turned them into deified Christians of the Church Triumphant, in Heaven, interceding for us.  The recent miraculous liberations of Raqqa and Mosul, events I had thought impossible two years ago, to the extent of advocating nuclear bombardment to end the suffering of the Christians trapped therein (the last time I will ever contemplate putting anyone "out of their misery") are glorious events which many Christians peayed for, seeking their intercession, and the intercession of the even more numerous Ethiopian martyrs killed by ISIL the next month, and these saints I believe did intercede, with the whole choir of saints, and continue to intercede, for the salvation of the Christian church.

I do not feel my Oriental faith threatened by venerating an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and neither should anyone confident in their Occidental faith feel threatened by venerating a Coptic or Ethiopian icon of equal importance.
 

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juliogb said:
Ambrosian rite in the Pantheon. Note the icon of the Theotokos.

Also, notice the Byzantine influence in the cut of the Ambrosian chasubles.  The Ambrosians wear not violet, but a sort of maroon color, the name of which escapes me, on Sundays in Lent, which evokes some of our Lenten vestments, and even more strikingly, on the weekdays they wear black vestments, which results in their services looking a lot like a Russian or Slavonic Orthodox service during the Lent.

One delightful part of their rite in liturgical color is their use of Green on  Easter Sunday, and their use of Red on most other days in the year, but also gold, as evinced here.  But I like the idea of a Rite that uses Green on Pascha.

I believe one of the ROCOR Western Rite parishes has been and might still be attempting to use the Ambrosian Rite.  Its a very beautiful rite, with very beautiful, distinctive music; I prefer it to the Tridentine Rite (although I in turn prefer the Tridentine Rite to the extremely simplified, but still beautiful, Dominican Rite, which although closer to the Gallican Rite than the Old Roman in terms of the liturgical propers, evokes the old Roman Rite in its extreme simplicity, before the Roman Rite was partially Gallicanized resulting in what we have today, and various permitations thereof (such as the old English rites, the old rite of Paris, the Carmelite Rite, and the recently extinct Rite of Lyons, the only liturgical rite in the Roman Catholic Church that actually died in the 20th century).
 

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I think it may be prudent to guard against seeing certain cultural or artistic practices of the east as so integral to Orthodoxy that we imagine the western Latin Church to have also once had these practices and even expect their restoration in the event of the Latin Church become Orthodox once again or demand that they exist in western rites. Yes, there is certainly much Byzantine influence among the older, preserved churches of Italy and Venice and parts of central Europe (especially in imperial chapels like the example above in Aachen when the Holy Roman Emperors wanted to associate themselves with the splendor of a legitimate Christian Roman authority).

However, we must remember that the Greek-speaking community in Rome was once much greater in numbers and influence than it is now and their influence has always had its pressure on our liturgy (the Greek elements that remain in our Triduum liturgies, the Agnus Dei which was inserted by a Syrian Pope of Rome, etc.), our art (Romanesque murals are similar yet distinct from Byzantine art) as well as our practices (once upon a time in the Latin rite, there existed the practice of singing the Gospel twice, once in Latin and a second time in Greek, etc.). This is true especially when Rome was, for a brief moment, once again part of the Byzantine Empire and especially when we had a series of Popes near the end of the first millennium that were from the east. Such is true also for parts of Spain that were briefly under Byzantine control and even more so for southern Italy and Sicily whose Greek influence remains to this day and whose ancient legacy is obvious when we look at the Byzantine Greek architecture that remains dominant in many of their older churches.

However, this does not mean that all Latins who held the Orthodox faith and clung to the Catholic Church, had bells on their thuribles, had Byzantine style icons, used leavened bread and chanted the liturgy like modern reconstructions (however beautiful and stunning and cross-culturally inspirational they may be) of Ensemble Organum or Capella Romana when they have a go at so-called 'old Roman chant'. I think many a village parish in the Latin west might have looked more like the reconstructed Welsh church of St. Teilo's (which admittedly is post-Schism). Although the rood screen and the ubiquity of the sacred images are familiar to Byzantine-rite Christians, the iconography certainly isn't Byzantine :



Nowadays, I tend to lean towards the view just from the various readings I've done and pictures and artefacts that I've found on-line that there was a diversity of ecclesial and liturgical cultures in the pre-Schism west which didn't necessarily conform to a Roman imperial aesthetic, whether that was 'Franco-Latin' or 'Byzantine Greek.' As a side note, I've even heard of anecdotes from a musicology major of mine that some Corsican communities had their own form of singing the Mass which was not the Gregorian chant. However, they learned and performed the Gregorian style whenever priests from Rome would come to inspect for any liturgical abuse and then promptly return to their Corsican polyphony when they left.

* * *

I think in the context of the western rite, it's also important to remember where the communities are popping up. It might make sense if there was mass conversion to western rite Orthodoxy in Italy and Germany to adopt Byzantine or Romanesque iconography and ancient architecture but if there was a mass conversion to western rite Orthodoxy in the Philippines, Romanesque iconography and the pre-Baroque style of Church architecture present in Europe may be just as alien to the Christian cultural consciousness as the Byzantine rite itself (and I am speaking as a Filipino).
 

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Despite my post above, I remain a strong and ardent son of Our Lady, Salus Populi Romani ("The Health of the Roman People"), one of the most ancient and venerated icons of the city of Rome, which is said to have come from Crete (hence the Byzantine style) :



Salus Populi Romani (Protectress, or more literally health or salvation, of the Roman People) is a Roman Catholic title associated with the venerated image of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Rome. This Byzantine icon of the Madonna and Christ Child holding a Gospel book and is enshrined within the Borghese (Pauline) Chapel of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.[1][2]
The image arrived in Rome in the year 590 AD during the reign of Pope Gregory I. Pope Gregory XVI granted the image a Canonical Coronation on 15 August 1838 through the Papal bull Cælestis Regina. The venerated image regained its longstanding devotion and status by being crowned again for the second time by Pope Pius XII on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary on 11 October 1954 accompanied by his Papal bull Ad Reginam Caeli.[3] Recent papal devotion includes Pope John Paul II who highlighted its iconography during the World Youth Day for the Jubilee Year of 2000. Pope Benedict XVI also venerated the image on various occasions with that specific Marian title.[4][5][6][7] Pope Francis also made this icon one of his first places of pilgrimage the day after his election to the Papacy.
~ from the Wikipedia article

 

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Iconodule said:
I think we should all be extremely cautious in issuing criteria for acceptable and unacceptable iconography. Iconography should conform broadly to the Orthodox faith, and not teach heresy; it should inspire piety and not blasphemous or impure thoughts. Above all it should emanate from the mystery of the incarnation and the transfiguration of created life by Christ. But within those bounds there is a lot of room for varying styles and expressions. Art is not subjective, but it is multifaceted, and someone coming from the wrong angle can see all kinds of things that aren't important, and miss all kinds of things that are. That seems evident to me in some of the Orthodox critiques broadly dismissing western iconography as sensuous, materialistic, etc., while these works of art are in fact made and experienced in a quite different spirit.

I think sacred and immaculate hearts are weird. The iconography and the prayers are just odd to me and I have no interest in bringing them into my church or my private prayer life. But I wasn't brought up in the spiritual culture that produced those devotions and when I hear them explained by Catholics who were so brought up, they make more sense to me, even if I can't see myself ever developing a taste for them. The standard Orthodox dismissals ("they're worshiping body parts!") ring hollow. 

Somewhat likewise, I find a lot of baroque religious painting to be trite and unworthy, but I don't feel competent to stand in judgment of sincere Christians who do find such art inspiring and want to keep it. It's quite possible I'm missing something.
I agree. The older pre-Vatican II Mass rubrics have prayers like "Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us." That's very startling to me. The heart is flesh, so why do we pray to flesh? We pray to the God-man, one of the Holy Trinity. Not his heart.
 

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Incidentally, are these rites under Rome? How often does their traditionalism conflict with the modernism of the Mass of Paul VI? Are there any disputations or conflicts between modernist priest and bishops who dislike the older rites and the more traditional priests and bishops?

I know there is to a limited extent with the Tridentine Mass, but I was wondering about the others, Ambrosian, Mozarabic etc.
 

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xOrthodox4Christx said:
Iconodule said:
I think we should all be extremely cautious in issuing criteria for acceptable and unacceptable iconography. Iconography should conform broadly to the Orthodox faith, and not teach heresy; it should inspire piety and not blasphemous or impure thoughts. Above all it should emanate from the mystery of the incarnation and the transfiguration of created life by Christ. But within those bounds there is a lot of room for varying styles and expressions. Art is not subjective, but it is multifaceted, and someone coming from the wrong angle can see all kinds of things that aren't important, and miss all kinds of things that are. That seems evident to me in some of the Orthodox critiques broadly dismissing western iconography as sensuous, materialistic, etc., while these works of art are in fact made and experienced in a quite different spirit.

I think sacred and immaculate hearts are weird. The iconography and the prayers are just odd to me and I have no interest in bringing them into my church or my private prayer life. But I wasn't brought up in the spiritual culture that produced those devotions and when I hear them explained by Catholics who were so brought up, they make more sense to me, even if I can't see myself ever developing a taste for them. The standard Orthodox dismissals ("they're worshiping body parts!") ring hollow. 

Somewhat likewise, I find a lot of baroque religious painting to be trite and unworthy, but I don't feel competent to stand in judgment of sincere Christians who do find such art inspiring and want to keep it. It's quite possible I'm missing something.
I agree. The older pre-Vatican II Mass rubrics have prayers like "Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us." That's very startling to me. The heart is flesh, so why do we pray to flesh? We pray to the God-man, one of the Holy Trinity. Not his heart.
You agree with him while ignoring his point that the "worshiping body parts" critique is kind of silly? Pretty sure the Sacred Heart is ultimately just a complex synechdoche. Jesus loves us with His Heart, He saves us with His strong arm, etc.
 

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For what it's worth, I think the late Fr. Adrian Fortescue, expert on the Roman Rite, would have liked the version of it I'm proposing for Western Rite Orthodox. This seems simpatico with the styles he liked.
 

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xOrthodox4Christx said:
Iconodule said:
I think we should all be extremely cautious in issuing criteria for acceptable and unacceptable iconography. Iconography should conform broadly to the Orthodox faith, and not teach heresy; it should inspire piety and not blasphemous or impure thoughts. Above all it should emanate from the mystery of the incarnation and the transfiguration of created life by Christ. But within those bounds there is a lot of room for varying styles and expressions. Art is not subjective, but it is multifaceted, and someone coming from the wrong angle can see all kinds of things that aren't important, and miss all kinds of things that are. That seems evident to me in some of the Orthodox critiques broadly dismissing western iconography as sensuous, materialistic, etc., while these works of art are in fact made and experienced in a quite different spirit.

I think sacred and immaculate hearts are weird. The iconography and the prayers are just odd to me and I have no interest in bringing them into my church or my private prayer life. But I wasn't brought up in the spiritual culture that produced those devotions and when I hear them explained by Catholics who were so brought up, they make more sense to me, even if I can't see myself ever developing a taste for them. The standard Orthodox dismissals ("they're worshiping body parts!") ring hollow. 

Somewhat likewise, I find a lot of baroque religious painting to be trite and unworthy, but I don't feel competent to stand in judgment of sincere Christians who do find such art inspiring and want to keep it. It's quite possible I'm missing something.
I agree. The older pre-Vatican II Mass rubrics have prayers like "Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us." That's very startling to me. The heart is flesh, so why do we pray to flesh? We pray to the God-man, one of the Holy Trinity. Not his heart.
The prayer you refer to is one of the Leonine Prayers, appointed by Pope Leo XIII to be said after the conclusion of low masses only (high masses and missa cantatas omit them).  They are not a part of the mass itself, but really a separate service the Pope ordered attached to the Low Mass because he felt the Roman church was in extreme danger; at the time, the Pope was Prisoner in the Vatican, France and several other countries were engaged in state secularization, confiscating monasteries, schools and hospitals and generally making life miserable for the church (in France, they went so far as to seize all of the parish churches, which are then merely made available for the Catholic Church to use so long as it can justify it; in this manner, the SSPX was able to forcibly “take over” one of the underutilized parish churches in Paris), and World War I was on the horizon.  I dislike the form of the Leonine Prayers but understand why they are there (a sense of impending doom in the Roman church; at the time the Low Mass was also the most well-attended Catholic service).

These days, the most well attended Tridentine services, in my experience at least, are Missa Cantatas (mainly due to a shortage of Tridentine-qualified deacons and subdeacons).  People want to hear the Gregorian Chant and other traditional music they are denied at the Novus Ordo Missae; if the Novus Ordo adhered to the regulations concerning liturgical music in the Catholic church, such as the encyclicals of Pope Pius X defining Gregorian chant as the standard music for masses (his directions were very reasonable and also specifically commended the music of Palestrina; they did not prohibit music other than Gregorian chant; on the whole his instruction is one of the best documents I have seen regulating ecclediastical music), then perhaps the Tridentine Low Mass would be more popular.  Some Catholic colleges serve it daily; due to the daily mass obligation for Catholic clergy the low mass is p4obably the most frequently served Tridentine mass under Summorum Pontificum and/or Ecclesia Dei and related accomodations, but at the level of diocesan laity, the missa cantata, or the Solemn High Mass with sacred ministers, in both cases with music, is almost certainly the most popular where it is offered.

As I noted earlier, the Leonine Prayers are in my view not a part of the Mass at all, but rather a devotional service mandated for use after a low mass.  An Orthodox analogy might be the rules of prayer in some communities that require reading the Akathist the night before partaking of the Eucharist.

The actual text of the Tridentine Mass contains nothing offensive or alien to Orthodox piety; indeed, I would argue everything we would expect to find in there is present, except for a compact epiclesis (the Tridentine mass spreads ehat is a single compact prayer in the Eastern liturgies across several prayers).

Also, regarding the Leonine Prayers, I am not sure if they were ever included in the Dominican Rite mass (which is like a simplified, slightly more Gallican-influenced, form of the Tridentine mass; the Dominican Mass represented an earlier attempt at standardizing the very large number of divergent uses of the Latin Rite for the benefit of Dominican Friars who frequently were sent across Western Europe in fulfillment of their duties, whereas the Tridentine mass 300 years later set out to abolish those divergent Uses as much as possible, but standardized them in a somewhat different way than the Dominican Rite; the Tridentine mass is somewhat more ornate and elaborate in its ceremonial). 

The Dominicans historically tended to resist Tridentine impositions on their mass, for example, the Last Gospel (when they were finally ordered to recite the Last Gospel, Dominican Friars were known to subtly register their dissent by beginning to extinguish the candles while reciting it).

In like manner, I would be very interested to know whether or not the Leonine Prayers were ever used in the Ambrosian Rite.  I am fairly certain they were never a part Mozarabic Rite.
 

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The young fogey said:
For what it's worth, I think the late Fr. Adrian Fortescue, expert on the Roman Rite, would have liked the version of it I'm proposing for Western Rite Orthodox. This seems simpatico with the styles he liked.
You know old chap that line of argument doesn’t present very well.  I could just as easily claim that Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. Ambrose would approve of the Byzantinized Latin Rite being used in some WRO parishes given their status as the Great Byzantinizers of Western Rite liturgy, but I will refrain from doing so so as to not put words in their mouth or commit what I consider to be the logical fallacy of argumentum a mortuis (argument from the dead).
 

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Alpha60 said:
... but I will refrain from doing so so as to not put words in their mouth or commit what I consider to be the logical fallacy of argumentum a mortuis (argument from the dead).
Love it.
 

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On second thought the Fortescue post was a disgression. Roman Catholics including respected traditional liturgists such as him would have liked my proposed Western Rite Orthodoxy — his practice in his parish resembled it; unsentimental, no-frills traditional Roman Rite — but this thread isn't about Catholicism.
 

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What a silly thing eh? :)

Are we grounded in Christ or ancient Rome?

Mor Ephrem said:
Alpha60 said:
You can be Orthodox wihout being Eastern, but I doubt you can be Orthodox without being Roman.
We're not Roman, so I guess we're screwed.
 

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Alpha60 said:
The young fogey said:
Volnutt said:
Other than the statues, I'd guess.
If you really don't have to be Eastern to be Orthodox, the question's moot.
You don't have to be Eastern to be Orthodox, but at the same time you must renounce the deviations of the Roman Church from Orthodoxy since the schism.  Realistic statuary of the Renaissance School is completely inappropriate.

What St. John of Shanghai did not say was "You don't have to give up artwork that the ancient Church interpreted as pagan in order to be Orthodox."  The works of sculpture used in the Roman state religion, while exquisite, have no place in the Orthodox Church, and neither does their style. 
Just to play Satan's advocate,



Sculpture of Christ the Good Shepherd from 3rd Century, Roman / Asia Minor



Sculpture of Jonah being spat out from the 3rd Century, Roman / Asia Minor



4th Century Sculpture of Christ the Teacher, Roman
 
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