6 July 2012
Artist Andrei Arapov chose folklore and imperial authority as themes for this lacquered box.
(photo: Sean Sprague)
Some of the most striking works of art aren’t found hanging on a wall, but on the lid of a box — like the image above, from a story by Sean Sprague on the remarkable works being restored in one Russian village:
For centuries icon painting in Palekh was passed down by apprenticeship from father to son. In the 19th century the state supported Palekh artists, whose importance the monarchy recognized in reaffirming Russia’s spiritual and artistic symbols, and as a bastion against encroaching Western influences.
In 1814 there were said to be about 600 artists in Palekh, the same number as today. Icon ateliers dotted the village, with the most famous belonging to Nikita Safonov, who along with his son Mikhail undertook commissions across Russia. The reputation of Palekh grew so that by the end of the 19th century Palekh masters had established studios in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Nizny-Novgorod and Perm.
The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, however, interrupted the tradition, with the Bolsheviks banning icon painting in their attempt to rid Russia of its religious heritage.
Palekh adjusted to the times. Rather than becoming unemployed, its artists switched to other forms of expression. They began decorating porcelain, glass, eggs and wooden toys with nonreligious themes.
The painting of black-lacquered boxes made from papier-mâché was the most successful alternative. Local artist Ivan Golikov is credited with introducing Palekh to the boxes, whose origins lay in the Far East, but which had gained popularity in the village of Fedoskino, near Moscow.
Read more about New Reality, Same Artistry in the March-April 2004 issue of ONE.
5 July 2012
Tags: Russia Village life Art Frescoes
Young Ukrainians travel on foot and on horseback for a pilgrimage from Lviv to Univ.
(photo: Petro Didula)
Last year, writer Mariya Tytarenko looked at how a new generation of priests is helping rejuvenate the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church — and in the process, they are also helping to make pilgrimage scenes like the one above more common:
Subdeacon Ostapyuk and Father Prokopets celebrate liturgies for the children and staff in chapels in or near the orphanage schools. If there is no chapel in the vicinity, they improvise. In the summer, they often celebrate the liturgy outdoors. In addition, they explain the meaning of the liturgy to the youngsters as well as teach them lessons from the Bible and about Christian values.
Each summer, the men also help run the Druzhba Camp for orphaned children and youth, some of whom have disabilities, in the village of Svirzh, 39 miles southeast of Lviv. For the rest of the day, they and a group of volunteers oversee a daily agenda of outdoor activities, crafts and games.
Read more about young Ukrainian men Answering the Call to the priesthood in the November 2011 issue of ONE.
2 July 2012
Tags: Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Pilgrimage/pilgrims Eastern Europe Seminarians
Sister Lisi leads evening prayer in the chapel of Grace Home, with 2-year-old Chakara.
(photo: Peter Lemieux)
Two years ago, we visited Grace Home in Kerala, where the Nirmala Dasi Sisters care for children with H.I.V./AIDS:
With the school-age children gone, a quiet falls upon the grounds of Grace Home — that is until a 2-year-old boy noisily pushes his pintsize tricycle across the facility’s marble floor. The tricycle plays an electronic version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Energetic and healthy — in fact, rather pudgy — the boy first came to Grace Home in 2009 covered in scabies and looking lean, says Sister Lisi, who calls him simply Chakara, or “sweetie” in the local Malayalam language.
“He would cry all day and all night,” she says. “Maybe he was thinking about his mother — she lost her mind and lived with Chakara in the Kuttippuram Railway Station, taking him here and there. Or maybe he feared he was going to be given away.
“He’s in good condition right now,” boasts Sister Lisi, adding that Chakara’s CD4 count is high, at more than 800. “He doesn’t need ARTs.”
Chakara’s attachment to Sister Lisi is unmistakable. He clutches her habit at the knees. She picks him up and puts him back down. He pushes the tricycle around some more and then into her feet. Sister Lisi ignores him. Chakara gets fussy and she picks him up again.
“At his age, he needs a mother’s concern and love,” says Sister Lisi. “I feel like I’ve been appointed his mother. Now he’s getting so much love. I don’t know how much love I have to give, but whatever I have I give.”
Read more about a home Full of Grace in the November 2010 issue of ONE.
28 June 2012
Tags: India Children Sisters HIV/AIDS
President-elect Mohammed Morsi, center, meets with Christian leaders from different denominations at the presidential palace in Cairo on 27 June.
(Photo: CNS/Egyptian presidency via Reuters)
Last weekend’s historic election in Egypt has prompted cautiously optimistic reactions from Christian leaders in the country. Gerard O’Connell of Vatican Insider has the details:
“We hope that he will fulfill his promises,” the Anglican bishop of Egypt said after Egypt’s first elected Islamic president, Mohammed Mursi, promised to be a president for all Egyptians, to appoint a prime minister who is not from the Muslim Brotherhood, and to appoint a Christian vice-president.
[Anglican] Bishop Mouneer Hanna Anis expressed this widely shared hope in a letter to his community and friends shortly after the election results were announced on Sunday evening, June 24.
Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, gained 51.7 percent of the vote in the freest and most honest election to be held in the country since 1952. His opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister of the deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s administration, gained 48.3 percent.
The results have revealed a deeply divided country and much fear among Christians — who count for some 10 percent of the population, and among the secular and liberal sectors of the electorate. About 40 percent of the 50 million people entitled to vote actually did so.
Mursi’s election “may be the best thing for the moment, in order to avoid violence, but performance will be important,” a senior Catholic leader in Cairo, who wished to remain anonymous, told me.
The Coptic Catholic bishop of Luxor, Monsignor Youhannes Zakaria, told Fides that he considers Mursi’s victory “positive” and hopes “that now all work in a spirit of cooperation to renew the country.” He said the president’s first words “give peace,” in particular that he wants “to be President of all Egyptians, to improve economy and also to re-launch tourism.” Egyptian society is “tranquil,” he added, “but now after the words they want actions.”
Meanwhile, the acting head of the Coptic Catholic Church has sent a congratulatory letter to the new president:
The Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt has sent a letter of congratulations to the country’s first freely elected Islamic president and told him Catholics are praying that God may bless with success his work “for the realization of a civil, democratic, modern state that respects the rights and freedoms of all and can guarantee security, peace and social justice.”
The letter was signed by Monsignor Kyrillos William, the bishop of Assiut and acting head of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, which has between about 200,000 members.
Writing in the name of the Coptic Catholics “in Egypt and in the countries of the diaspora,” the bishop congratulated Mohammed Mursi “for having gained the confidence of the people” in the mid-June presidential elections.
He said Coptic Catholics “are confident that with the aid of the Most High and All Powerful (God), and with your wisdom, you will be capable of leading the country and working for the superior interests of the nation and all its children, so that the cohesion of its fabric remains as it always has been.”
For more on the responses of Egyptian Christians to the election, click here. For more on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, check out the September 2011 issue of ONE magazine, where we explored the plight of Christian women in Egypt and profiled the challenges facing one woman reporter.
19 June 2012
Tags: Egypt Christian-Muslim relations Egypt's Christians Democracy
Budding artists at work in the Asela orphanage school in Ethiopia. (photo: Petterik Wiggers)
Four years ago, we took readers to a remarkable facility in Ethiopia, the Asela school, where children with special needs were being given both help and hope:
Since the Consolata Fathers opened the doors of the Asela school and orphanage some 28 years ago, more than 500 boys — abandoned and often disabled — have graduated. The facility now cares for more than 150 children with diverse backgrounds from the Ethiopian region of Oromia, meeting the full range of their basic needs as well as providing them with a reputable education.
Chief among the facility’s accomplishments has been the quality schooling it offers to all its children. The general curriculum centers on traditional academic subjects, preparing most students for a high school diploma.
For those students better suited for a skilled trade, the Consolata Fathers have in recent years developed a vocational training program that offers a variety of specializations, including wood and metal works, auto mechanics, house painting and sewing. The vocational program prepares students for a certificate of technical expertise in an elected trade skill rather than the conventional high school diploma. Students in the vocational programs receive instruction from highly qualified professionals in the field and use state-of-the-art machinery, which has been installed on the premises.
Read more about Revealing Hidden Talent in the January 2008 issue of ONE.
13 June 2012
Tags: Ethiopia Education Africa ONE magazine North Africa
An Iraqi woman prays at a Chaldean Catholic church in Amman, Jordan, on 15 April. Thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to neighboring Jordan following a spate of bombings that targeted churches in Iraqi cities in the past few years. (photo: CNS/Ali Jarekji, Reuters)
With the situation in Syria deteriorating and anxiety growing over the plight of Christians in the Middle East, the National Catholic Register’s Tim Drake spoke recently with someone intimately connected to the region and its people: Bashar Matti Warda, the Chaldean archbishop of Erbil, in northern Iraq:
Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, there has been a significant reduction in the number of Christians in Iraq. Why is that?
Yes, there’s been a reduction. Christian churches were targeted, Christians were threatened and killed, and many were forced to move elsewhere. There are so many reasons that many felt there was no future for them amidst an immature political process. The political process is based on family and tribal connections. Those in the U.S. look at the situation and wonder what’s going wrong. They say, “They have a constitution; there was an election. Things should be going okay.” What those on the outside don’t realize is that tribal connections are working on the inside. The tribes and parties look out for their own interests. Iraq is a very wealthy country, with a $100-billion budget, and many resources, such as oil. There’s much greed. So, for Christians, there are many reasons for them to leave — and maybe one or two reasons for them to stay.
Where are Christians going? Are there any safe enclaves for Christians in the Mideast?
They have gone to Syria, to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, but all of these are “waiting countries.” People tend not to stay there. Forty-four percent of Iraqi asylum seekers are Christian. They are going to any place that will speed the process of immigration. Other families seek final settlement in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Those who are not able, who are too poor or do not have the means to travel, often move inside the country to places such as Erbil and northern Iraq.
How might the instability in Syria affect Christians there?
It’s precarious. Syria is sensitive because Lebanon would be affected by Syria. It would cause chaos there as well as to the Christian presence in Iraq. When there’s chaos, it is not a good time for minorities.
Do you see post-communist Russia as a possible defender of Christians in the Mideast?
No, primarily because of communism. The Orthodox are very strong in Russia, but, politically speaking, we cannot view them as our defenders.
What are three things you would like American Catholics to know about Catholics in Iraq?
First, that Christianity has had a presence in Iraq for 2,000 years. It’s a very old community. It has not been converted from Islam. We were there before Islam. Our schools were always the best, even from the sixth and seventh centuries. Second, we’ve been through a very difficult time. We are grateful to the many people who have held out a hand of charity and solidarity with us, the various Catholic charities. However, we would like to leave this path of charity for the path of opportunity. Yes, we are a minority, but we have the capability to stay and build a good future for Iraq. Third, I would like to see more of a commitment by the media to raise the awareness of the issues in Iraq to build schools and hospitals. We are not benefitting from the wealth that Iraq has. We need to find ways to stay and build the community. When we leave Iraq, it’s a big loss. When I visited our communities in Detroit, the second and third generations are no longer speaking the language. Our whole culture is gone.
Do you see a peaceful generation coming?
Yes, that’s what we have to work for. The next generation is not following in the footsteps of their parents because they are tired of the mess. So many voices are asking when, for what and why? These courageous questions are helpful.
There’s much more at the Register.
We also spotlighted Christians in Iraq recently in A New Genesis in Nineveh, the cover story of ONE's November 2011 issue.
11 June 2012
Tags: Syria Iraq Iraqi Christians War Emigration
This October 2009 photograph depicts rain clouds over the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine in Jerusalem's Old City that also has significance to Jews and Christians.
(Photo: CNS photo/Darren Whiteside, Reuters)
The exodus of Christians from the Middle East has been garnering a great deal of attention — so we asked sociologist Dr. Bernard Sabella to take a closer look at some of the causes, in a web-exclusive essay for ONE magazine:
The percentage of Christians living in the Holy Land has decreased from 10.7 percent in 1890 to 1.4 percent in 2010. There are three principal explanations for this: First, the local Christian community has a relatively lower population growth compared to the rest of the population; second, the ongoing political conflict and instability; and third, the dire economic and social consequences of a prolonged political stalemate.
Christian families in the Holy Land are relatively small, with an average size of four to five members, compared to Muslim and religious Jewish families, which average one and a half to two times as many children as Christian families. During the decade 2000 to 2010, Christian numbers remained the same because of lower birth rates and the emigration of Christian youth.
The 1948 Arab-Israeli war left its impact on the Holy Land’s indigenous Christian population — 60,000 of its members became refugees (among the total 726,000 refugees) and 30,000 were displaced within the boundaries of the new state of Israel. Thanks to the assistance of the various churches and the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, many of the refugees, irrespective of religious background, were able to recover and resume their lives.
If 1947 is taken as the base year, when the Christian population was at 143,000, population experts would expect the figure to have doubled naturally by 1980 and to have reached the mark of 400,000 or more by 2010, assuming a growth rate of 2 percent per year. To the contrary, the present figures indicate the disappearance of six out of every ten Christians since 1948. Some would argue this is strictly due to trends of demographic nature. But in reality, these matters alone do not explain the steadily declining numbers, particularly in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
For more answers, read the rest on our magazine’s website.
8 June 2012
Tags: Palestine Israel Holy Land Christian
This icon of St. Ephrem the Syrian is one of many that
shows him in a popular pose, writing. (photo: Wikipedia)
Saturday 9 June marks the feast of St. Ephrem in the Latin church (it’s celebrated on 28 January in the East) and 17 centuries after his death, he continues to be a compelling and fascinating figure. As CNEWAs magazine once noted:
Often referred to as the Harp of the Holy Spirit, this
learned theologian and Doctor of the Church was born in Nisibis, Syria
(modern Nusaybin, Turkey) in the year 306. He spent much of his life in
preaching and writing hymns and poems dedicated to combating the heresies of
Gnosticism and Arianism. He was baptized by Bishop James of Nisibis — a man
who greatly influenced his life.
A poet and writer, Ephrem had a complex and artistic personality marked by a
strong tendency to be hot-tempered. But with tremendous self-control, he
dominated his fiery nature and devoted his life to asceticism.
Ephrem taught in Nisibis until the city was ceded to the Persians and he was
forced, with other Christians, to emigrate to Edessa (now Urfa, Turkey).
There, Ephrem continued his teaching at the famous School of Edessa whose
reknown, and even founding, has been attributed to him.
An aspect of Ephrems unusual personality is evident in the fact that,
although ordained a deacon, he never became a priest — avoiding consecration by feigning madness. Although no certain explanation can be found for this behavior, some biographers believe it was due to a feeling of unworthiness.
He was a prolific writer, and one of his hymns was translated and published
in the magazine in 1999:
HE CAME TO US IN HIS LOVE, THE BLESSED TREE, WOOD DISSOLVED
WOOD. FRUIT WAS ANNIHILATED BY FRUIT, THE MURDERER [ANNIHILATED] BY THE
IN EDEN AND IN THE INHABITED EARTH ARE PARABLES OF OUR LORD. WHO IS ABLE TO
GATHER THE LIKENESSES OF THE SYMBOLS OF HIM, ALL OF WHOM IS PORTRAYED IN ALL
IN SCRIPTURE HE IS WRITTEN; IN NATURE HE IS ENGRAVED. HIS DIADEM IS
PORTRAYED BY KINGS, AND BY PROPHETS HIS TRUTH, HIS ATONEMENT BY PRIESTS
HE IS IN THE ROD OF MOSES AND IN THE HYSSOP OF AARON AND IN THE DIADEM OF DAVID.
THE PROPHETS HAVE HIS LIKENESS, BUT THE APOSTLES HAVE HIS
You can read the complete hymn here.
1 June 2012
Tags: Syria Saints
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1 June 2012
Tags: CNEWA ONE magazine
An Ethiopan woman works at a farmer’s market in Addis Ababa. (photo: Peter Lemieux)
In Ethiopia, opportunities for women are often limited, which leads some to seek a better life by migrating to the Middle East. Peter Lemieux explores that in the May issue of ONE:
Many experts do not believe poverty and lack of economic opportunity, alone, fully explain the root causes of migration to the Middle East.
“The main reason is economic, but I don’t think the economic need is greater now than before,” says Lettegebriel Hailu, executive director of the Family Service Association, which assists victims of domestic violence in Addis Ababa. “However, the information now is more accessible than before. I think they hear more about immigration.
“And the competition is not the same. When I was growing up, it was ‘go to church, serve your family, go to school, be good and disciplined, respect your neighbor.’ Today, youngsters want to become rich first of all. They want to dress up. They want a beautiful house. They want to earn a good salary and enjoy the good life. There’s no patience like before. They just want to be independent.”
Ms. Lettegebriel is currently designing a program that will help prepare migrants before they leave. It will provide information about life in the Middle East and the perils migrants may encounter. It will also offer training in basic skills required of domestic workers.
“They have to know what they will face there,” explains Ms. Lettegebriel. “Some don’t know how to wash a glass, make a bed, operate modern kitchen appliances, cook or speak English, let alone Arabic. They have no idea. For those who are sensible, they might change their mind. For those who still want to go, at least they’ll have skills and a sense of the consequences, and know how to seek help if they find trouble.“
Read more in the article The High Stakes of Leaving.
Tags: Ethiopia Africa ONE magazine