4 Comments

  1. Dear Andrew,

    I look forward to reading your article. However, as the priest of a Western Rite parish, I would note that you shouldn’t overlook the thousand years of Western Orthodox church architecture, which developed differently from the East. In fact, St. Vladimir’s emissaries didn’t visit an Orthodox church and a Catholic church; they visited two Orthodox churches, one Eastern and one Western.

    Fr. David Kinghorn
    St. Cuthbert’s Orthodox Church, Pawtucket, RI

    1. Hi Fr. David,

      You’ll be pleased to see that I talk about Western medieval architecture quite a bit in this issue – especially with regards to the 19th century revival of medieval church architecture. In the next issue of RTE, we have a discussion of stained glass in Western architecture.

      Of course, you’re correct that in the 10th century the Church was united, but I think that even at that time one would have perceived a difference in liturgical ethos and emphasis – a growing ecclesiastical extroversion in the West, and a preference for liturgical introversion in the East. These differences manifest themselves clearly centuries later when we see the West building the great Gothic cathedrals and at the same time the East building the tiny mosaic-encrusted churches of the late-Byzantine period. I place no value judgement on these differences. (No one loves western medieval architecture more than I do.) But I think the Russian emissaries could have perceived a spiritual and cultural difference there, and understood that the introspective liturgy of the East was a better fit for the Russian people.

    2. The Primary Chronicle records they visited a German (“Western”) church (?) and those of “the Greeks”:

      Then we went among the Germans, and saw them performing many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no glory there. Then we went to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.

  2. Reminds me of this from Iconostasis:

    “[T]his material iconostasis does not conceal from the believer (as someone in ignorant self-absorption might imagine) some sharp mystery; on the contrary, the iconostasis points out to the half-blind the Mysteries of the altar, opens for them an entrance into a world closed to them by their own stuckness, cries into their deaf ears the voice of the Heavenly Kingdom …” —Pavel Florensky

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