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THE ICON CORNER: SHRINE OF OUR LADY OF KAZAN’

КРАСНЫЙ УГОЛ В ЧЕСТЬ ИКОНЫ БОЖЬЕЙ МАТЕРИ “КАЗАНСКОЙ”

 


 

S I like to say, icons are unique to the Christian East, particularly the Byzantine (Orthodox) rite, halfway between pictures and having the Sacrament in the room with you.

I have loads of icons — most are really glorified holy cards framed or glued onto wood and lacquered, but most are blessed and therefore real icons — but as you can see I’ve chosen not to go overboard in displaying them.  
 
About seven images in all bless my krasnyj ugol (‘beautiful corner’) — really a small, altarless chapel for praying the hours.
 
A quick guide to a version of this I had in another house: At left, a crucifix, a card of a 19th-century Russian version of the image of Christ’s Face ‘Not Made by Hands’ (given me by a friend in Russia) and a picture of Royal Doors (main doors of an icon screen) depicting the Annunciation (a friend living in Rome gave me that).

The analogion with my Bible and prayer books is a lectern saved from trash; my priest gave me the gold-brocade cover with a Russian cross on it. On it are a Bible (King James Version, the original Anglican one with the ‘Apocrypha’/deuterocanonical books; I also have a Protestant Bible in modern Russian and a Douay/Confraternity Catholic Bible for the commentary), a book of the gospels in Slavonic (the liturgical language of the Russians), a Book of Common Prayer (1662 version) used as a psalter and for its Gospel canticles, my book of hours, a Catholic book of daily readings (Tradition Day by Day, now online, with lots of quotations from Eastern Church Fathers) and two Orthodox prayer books, one English, one Russian (Slavonic). On nearby shelves are an epistle book, psalter and books of hours in Slavonic (I understand at least half of it) along with the Missal, breviaries and other traditional Roman Rite books.

Then, top row from left: St Michael (he and St Gabriel at right are cards of icons painted by a Roman Catholic priest, Fr Richard Cannuli) and another, larger image of the Face of Christ.

Middle row: St Nicholas, St Augustine of Hippo (actually a card of a medieval Italian painting; he is in Roman vestments), a thecla with a bone chip of St Augustine himself (now in a proper brass reliquary), St John of Kronstadt (Russian Orthodox saint who lived circa 1900) and an icon of Pentecost.

The next row down: St Sergius of Radonezh (medieval Russian Orthodox: recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church), the large Passion (Suffering) icon of Our Lady (better known to Roman Catholics as Our Lady of Perpetual Help), St Ambrose of Optina (19th-century Russian Orthodox) and below him, a small bronze crucifix and a framed holy card of St Timothy in Byzantine vestments that is 100 years old — it is from tsarist Russia. The bottom-most icon is a variant of the icon of all the saints of Russia, featuring Tsar Nicholas II and the many others who were murdered by the Communists. (Also in it are SS. Seraphim of Sarov and Tikhon, among many others.)

You can also see my lampada (hanging oil lamp filled with rose-scented oil), kadilo (brass stationary censer) and, on a hook, my rosary, actually chotki, a Byzantine set of prayer beads. Mine happens to be five sets of ten set off by larger beads so it can easily double as a rosary. Not visible but on a facing wall are a large framed colour copy of a 16th-century Russian icon of the Assumption, and above that a framed postcard of a 15th-century Russian icon of St Matthew writing his Gospel.  

 

Added later: a icon with a full-length image of St Sergius and smaller pictures on the edges depicting his life: the largest icon I have. Other icons have been replaced on the wall with bigger ones, paper ones mounted, framed and lacquered, originally from a Russian man’s house chapel: the icons of the angels have been replaced with full-length ones and above the big St Sergius icon there is a beautiful plaque of the Holy Trinity, with figures of Our Lord and of a long-bearded God the Father with the Holy Ghost as a dove at top centre. Based on the lifelike style and its yellowed condition it could well be a tsarist antique!
 
And the main ones of Our Lord and Our Lady now literally are tsarist antiques, painted copies of Christ the Teacher and Our Lady of Kazan’ (like the one the Pope gave back to Russia in August 2004) with brass oklady (covers). They’re on my wall today along with the Holy Trinity and St Gabriel from the late Russian’s house (see the photo above).
 
Finally, on the hardwood floor is a small imitation Oriental rug and a good-sized brass Russian crucifix blesses me from above my back door.

So what kind of services are done here? Have a look! A layman’s version of the the Byzantine Rite: the canon from Matins (or, less often, Nocturns or one of the little hours, Prime, Terce or Sext) in the morning and in the evening one of these: None and/or Vespers (with the assigned psalms for the kathisma in the latter) or Small Compline, sometimes with a canon in it. Sometimes one of these is replaced with a canon or akathist, or the order of prayers before Communion. The menaion and calendar are Russian Orthodox: many of the propers and canons are from a Ruthenian Catholic set of books (the Uniontown one) but the content is the same.


Sometime I’ll just sit quietly and read Winfred Douglas’ Monastic Diurnal.



Byzantine Rite in Slavonic


Roman Rite: Monastic Diurnal