24 May 2017
Orthodox believers venerate St. Nicholas’ relics at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
(photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images)
The relics of a beloved saint have left Italy for the first time.
Thousands of people lined up for hours in Moscow on Monday to venerate the relics of Saint Nicholas, believed by Orthodox Christians to have miraculous powers, after his remains were sent to Russia on loan from their permanent home in Italy.
The remains of Saint Nicholas had never previously left the Italian city of Bari in the 930 years since they were brought there. After arriving by plane on Sunday, they were installed in Moscow’s gold-domed Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and put on public display.
The loan was agreed during last year’s historic meeting between Russian Patriarch Kirill and Roman Catholic Pope Francis. It was the first time a pontiff and head of the Russian Orthodox church had met since the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity split apart nearly 1,000 years ago.
The line of people queuing to see the relics stretched for several kilometers from the cathedral along the embankment of the Moskva river.
“I want to touch the relics, to ask for health for my children, for my relatives,” said one woman in the queue, who gave her name as Natalia and said she was from Ukraine. “I want health and peace on earth. Nothing else.”
Saint Nicholas, who lived in the fourth century in what is modern-day Turkey, is one of the most revered saints in Russian Orthodoxy. Numerous churches and cathedrals bear his name in Russia, and Nikolai is a popular name in the country.
And for more on St. Nicholas, check out this story from our magazine: Bari’s Borrowed Wonder Worker.
23 May 2017
Tags: Russia Russian Orthodox
A little girl prays at the start of the morning assembly at the St. Antony’s English Medium School in Karottukara, India. Read how this school is changing lives with Education as a Common Goal in the September-October 2003 edition of our magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)
22 May 2017
Clergymen are seen as they wait for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump for a welcoming ceremony 22 May at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv.
(photo: CNS/Amir Cohen, Reuters)
19 May 2017
Pope Francis greets a resident as he arrives to give an Easter blessing to a home in a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea, 19 May. Continuing his Mercy Friday visits, the pope blessed a dozen homes in Ostia.
(photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)
Like parish priests throughout Italy do during the Easter season, Pope Francis spent an afternoon 19 May going door to door and blessing homes.
Continuing the “Mercy Friday” visits he began during the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis chose a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea.
The Vatican press office said Father Plinio Poncina, pastor of Stella Maris parish, put up signs 17 May announcing a priest would be visiting the neighborhood to bless houses. The signs, which indicate a date and give a time frame, are a common site in Italy in the weeks before and after Easter.
“It was a great surprise today when, instead of the pastor, the one ringing the door bells was Pope Francis,” the press office said. “With great simplicity, he interacted with the families, he blessed a dozen apartments” and left rosaries for the residents.
“Joking, he apologized for disturbing people, however he reassured them that he had respected the hour of silence for a nap after lunch in accordance with the sign posted at the entrance to the building,” the press office said.
The pope’s Friday visits to hospitals and hospices, homes for children, rehab centers and other places of care were planned for the Year of Mercy as tangible ways for the pope to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Although the Year of Mercy ended in November, the pope restarted making Mercy Friday visits in March when he visited a home and educational center for the blind and visually impaired.
Pope Francis gives an Easter blessing to a home in a public housing complex in Ostia, a Rome suburb on the Mediterranean Sea. (photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)
17 May 2017
Priests and scribes assist Abune Gregorius, Archbishop of Ziway, Ethiopia, as he studies an ancient text near the island church of Debre Zion. To learn more about Ethiopian Orthodoxy at the Crossroads, check out our November 2007 edition of ONE. (photo: Sean Sprague)
16 May 2017
A villager and his horse make their way through downtown Eshtia, Georgia.
(photo: Michael J. La Civita)
CNEWA’s Michael J. La Civita is making a pastoral visit to the Caucasus this week, and sent back these images from the tiny village of Esthia. He noted on Facebook:
The landscape surrounding Eshtia. (photo: Michael J. La Civita)
Eshtia. Once a village of 1,300 families, now home to just 500 families — all Armenian Catholic refugees from the genocide a century ago.
It is a tidy village of birches, daffodils and thieving magpies. CNEWA is proudly supporting Caritas’s work here in helping the youth, who number 300.
While it seems as if time stands still, it does not. Many of the men men have fled to Omsk, Russia, to earn a living — leaving their families behind.
15 May 2017
College freshman Christopher O’Hara greets CNEWA president Msgr. John E. Kozar during a fundraiser hosted last week at Gallagher’s Steak House in New York City. Joining him are Christopher’s parents, Kelly and Chris O’Hara. (photo: CNEWA)
A little over a month ago, I was blessed to travel with CNEWA president, Msgr. John E. Kozar, on a pastoral visit to Lebanon. While there, we toured schools, medical clinics, a seminary, and refugee camps to see just how CNEWA accompanies the poor, suffering, and displaced throughout the Middle East. For me, it was a humbling trip — one that made me eager to return home and share with our donor family stories of the real need facing this community, as well as my own first-hand accounts of the tremendous good our donors have made possible.
With thanks to the O’Hara family and, in particular, their son Christopher, we were able to share a little about that trip recently at Gallagher’s Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan. Christopher is a freshmen with Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service who, as a junior at Chaminade High School on Long Island, wanted to reach out to help people in need. (Coincidentally, Father Walsh was CNEWA’s first president). Last year, Christopher organized a special evening to raise awareness and support for the Christian community in the Middle East and the people they serve.
During this year’s gathering, Msgr. Kozar not only shared stories from our trip to Lebanon, but also about his recent trip to Iraq as one of the first Westerners to visit some of the liberated towns on the Nineveh Plain.
Msgr. Kozar also spoke of a convent and a church he toured where extremists had used the buildings as target practice and ransacked every icon and liturgical book. He spoke of the courage of a group of parishioners who came with brooms to clean the church so that they could celebrate Easter Mass — with hardly any parishioners present.
The need has been particularly great across the Middle East lately, and that’s why an evening bringing together some of CNEWA’s friends and supporters in the greater New York City area was a real opportunity to provide an update of what’s happening — and make a difference at the same time. More than that, is exciting for us at CNEWA to know that we count young people among some of our most faithful supporters.
Christopher O’Hara’s efforts to raise awareness was inspiring to another group of youth, a volunteer initiative calling themselves “Relief United,” who recently held a Battle of the Bands concert to help Syrian refugees. (You can read about their efforts here.) Together, the students were able to show that the youth of today can offer powerful and faithful acts of generosity and mercy. All of us here at CNEWA could not be more thankful for their cheerful and enthusiastic service on our behalf.
If you’d like to support Christopher in his efforts to make an impact in the lives of this struggling community of faith in the Middle East, you can make a donation here.
15 May 2017
A menorah and its shadow are seen in one part of an exhibition on the menorah at the Vatican on 15 May. The second part of the exhibition is at the Jewish Museum in Rome.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
The Vatican Museums and the Jewish Museum of Rome are exploring together the significance of the menorah, although they also give a nod to the centuries-old legend that the Vatican is hiding the golden menorah from the Temple of Jerusalem.
A two-part exhibition, one at the Vatican and the other at the Jewish Museum of Rome, prominently features a replica of the 1st-century Arch of Titus, showing Roman soldiers carrying the menorah and other treasures into Rome.
From a coin minted in the century before Christ’s birth to a 1987 Israeli comic book featuring a superhero with a menorah on his chest, the exhibit, “The Menorah: Worship, History and Myth,” documents the use of the seven-branched candelabra both as a religious item and a symbol of Jewish identity.
The exhibit is scheduled to be open through 23 July. One ticket includes admission to the main part of the exhibit in the Charlemagne Wing just off St. Peter’s Square and to the Jewish Museum, located about a mile away at Rome’s main synagogue.
Among the pieces displayed at the Jewish Museum stands a towering mosaic inscription describing treasures buried at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. Dating from the 13th century, while the Crusades were raging, the mosaic’s 37-line inventory includes “the golden candelabrum” Titus brought to Rome.
The legend has persisted for centuries that the Vatican is hiding the solid gold menorah — if not at St. John Lateran, then in a cave at the Vatican. Jewish religious and political leaders continue to ask the popes to return the piece.
Arnold Nesselrath, director of the Department of Byzantine, Medieval and Modern Art at the Vatican Museums, said the mosaic from the time of the reign of Pope Nicholas IV is the last the Vatican heard of the famous menorah. Excavations under the altar of St. John Lateran and the surrounding area in the early 20th century turned up no trace of the treasures.
Still, he said, the legend documents just how important the menorah is in Jewish culture.
Francesco Leone, the art historian who prepared the exhibit catalogue, told Catholic News Service the most historically reliable explanation of the Temple menorah’s fate is that it was taken as booty from Rome by the Vandals or Goths before the end of the fifth century and melted down.
The oldest object in the exhibit is the “Magdala stone,” a carved block from a synagogue in the Galilee excavated in 2009. The stone, which has a carved menorah on one side, is from before the time of Jesus.
Alessandra Di Castro, director of the Jewish Museum, said working with the Vatican Museums and with scholars both of them called on to help with the research, “we experienced firsthand how working together brought each of us new understanding.”
Nesselrath agreed, saying, “The collaboration was a process of deepening respect for what is sacred to the other.”
Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, writing in the exhibit catalogue said, “The Jewish link with the menorah is ancient, strong and full of symbolic significance, and the link has never been broken.”
12 May 2017
The sisters of St. Tornike of Athos Monastery in Mtskheta, Georgia begin each day in prayer. Read more about these remarkable women who have chosen Alternative Lifestyles in the September 2007 edition of ONE. (photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)
11 May 2017
In this image from 2004, a Melkite Greek Catholic priest from southern Syria sits with his family. Read about the Christian heritage of this troubled country in Deep Roots in a Fertile Land in the May-June 2004 edition of ONE.