It is well known that the early Byzantine church used very large patens and loaves of bread in the Divine Liturgy. Surviving examples of patens from the 6th-century are frequently two feet or more in diameter, compared to the six inch diskos typical today. Interestingly, the Melkite church still uses larger patens, and I recently had the privilege of designing such a paten for St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Melkite Church in Rochester, NY.
Father Christopher Manuele contacted me with the idea to create a practical mid-sized diskos modeled on the early Byzantine examples. We settled on 12 inches diameter. I designed the exact profiles and ornamentation that I thought would work best, and sent my drawing to master silversmith Liza Nechamkin Glasser. After a lot of cost estimating, we ultimately decided to make the piece in copper and brass and have it thickly silver plated.
Liza had a wooden form made in order to spin the bowl shape on a lathe. The asterisk is hand-fabricated and set with a carnelian cabochon. After polishing, the piece was sent to a master engraver who engraved the Greek inscription and Byzantine cross using a traditional burin. Finally, it went to the plater for its coating of silver. All three craftspeople – silversmith, engraver, and plater – are former or current employees of Tiffany & Co. As one would expect, the quality of the finished piece is magnificent.
The Greek inscription is an excerpt from the Diving Liturgy: “Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto thee O Lord.”
Website for New World Byzantine Studios, from which this piece, and other liturgical art, can be ordered: www.nwbstudios.com
Website for Nechamkin Silver Studios: www.nechamkin.com