Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, Ayia Trias.
Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category
Twice yesterday, Saturday afternoon, I was greeted ‘Happy Easter’.
Once by an English friend, then later by a Nepalese (Buddhist) friend.
Is this a new trend, as never before have I been greeted ‘Happy Easter’?
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, but never Happy Easter.
Christmas is marked by an orgy of obscene consumerism. Easter has tended not to be marked, apart from shops closing on Sunday (they used to close Good Friday).
There has though of late been an attempt to bring back Easter, processions in the street with a large wooden cross being carried, Passion Plays.
What has Easter eggs and rabbits got to do with Easter, asked my Nepalese friend?
She, as with most non-Christians, finds Christianity a perplexing mystery. If we are honest, so do most Christians, as they lack any understanding of the origins of their religion.
Absolute nothing, I said, and I have no idea where it has come from.
Triangle, a Christian bookshop was offering Real Easter Eggs.
What are real Easter eggs?
Painted white eggs?
In Lithuania, the eggs are painted, then at Easter smashed.
In Brazil, a tradition of painted Easter eggs.
In Cyprus, 2m high rabbits and eggs in the street.
We have Western Christians and Orthodox Christians celebrating Easter at different times of the year. For Orthodox Christians, Easter is not this weekend but next weekend.
And Easter is never the same date, it moves with the cycle of the moon. The reason being is that, like Christmas, it is an adaption of pre-Christian festivities. It is easier to persuade people to celebrate a festival with a new name, than to force them to celebrate a new festival.
It is swung at the special Friday evening mass, and occasionally at other masses too.
I witnessed the occasion at Friday evening mass last week. It takes place at the end of the mass. The censor is lowered, filled with burning charcoal, then with eight men pulling on ropes, it swings into the transepts, almost to the ceiling.
It is quite dramatic when first seen, accompanied by loud organ music.
Each day at midday a special mass for pilgrims.
The clergy in attendance were robed in purple not green. Those pulling the ropes robed in claret.
Friday and Saturday, the censer was stopped. On the Sunday it was allowed to swing and slowly slowly come to a halt.
The description on Wikipedia, like most things on Wikipedia, false. No way was 40kg of charcoal and incense shovelled into the censer. Nor did the swinging censer fill the cathedral with smoke or produce large volumes of smoke. Botafumeiro is normally found suspended at the end of the rope, not kept in the cathedral library.
The Botafumeiro is suspended from a pulley mechanism in the dome in the centre of the cathedral, the entire mechanism flexes as it is swung.
Santiago de Compostela, is one of the most important sites in Christianity, and the destination for pilgrims, because within Catedral de Santiago lies the remains of Santiago Apóstol, the Apostle James, brother of John the Baptist, and follower of Jesus.
Apostle James travelled far, as far as what is now Spain and Portugal. On his return, he was executed by Herod, and his body dismembered. Two of his followers, gathered up his remains, and set sail in an unseaworthy boat. They somehow traversed the Mediterranean, passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, and were shipwrecked in Galicia.
James was entombed, later by his side, his two followers.
Several hundred years later 820 AD, the hermit Pelagius discovered the tombs and conveyed his finds to the Bishop Theodemir. News reached King Alfonso II who ordered a chapel be built, now Catedral de Santiago.
The remains of St James are now in a niche in a casket in a tiny crypt.
Today Sunday, the cathedral packed, standing room only.
No sooner had the mass finished, then another mass presided over by the Bishop.
For the midday mass, there was no swinging of the censer or Botafumeiro, but for the mass that followed there was. The difference to the other days, it was allowed to slowly slowly, swing to a halt.
I was not sure what to expect, a cathedral full of pilgrims, pilgrims lining up to be blessed.
From what I could follow, a list of pilgrims read out.
Catedral de Santiago is the final resting place for the remains of Santiago Apóstol, the Apostle James, brother of John the Baptist, and follower of Jesus.
Midday each day, a special mass is held for pilgrims.
I attended mass four times, spent different times of the day wandering around inside the cathedral, sitting in quiet contemplation, even one evening walked the stations of the cross, had a chat with the priests, Holy Communion from the Bishop.
What struck me looking at the gold and the figures that are the centre piece, that if I was not aware I was in a Catholic Church I could have been in a Hindu temple as the figures were very much reminiscent of that seen in Hindu art.
The gold centre piece is breathtaking, as is the swinging of Botafumeiro.
The centre of the gold centre piece, is not as would expect Jesus or Mary, but Santiago. You can walk up and through, and hug the Saint.
Buried below in a tiny crypt in a silver casket are his remains.
Before visiting the cathedral, I would recommend first a visit to Monasterio de San Martín Pinario, which contains the original carved choir stalls from the cathedral.
Built between IX and XIX centuries, Monasterio de San Martín Pinario, illustrates the wealth of monasteries. Even the entrance doors have gold leaf.
Leading off the main aisle, impressive side chapels.
The choir stalls carved walnut.
The church is now a museum.It contains a printing press and wood blocks used for printing.
Where did the monks go? Where did all the wealth go?