Lasers reveal long-hidden Roman frescoes with biblical themes

Technology, art, and faith come together.

Doorway arch fresco depicting Christ and the Apostles at the Domitilla catacombs in Rome. Frescoes dating back to the fourth century A.D. have been restored with laser technology in underground crypts. Photo courtesy of Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology

This was originally posted by Josephine McKenna on June 6, 2017 on the Religion News Service website. Additional images from the catacombs appear in the original post.

Begin quote

ROME (RNS) Ancient frescoes have been rediscovered inside the 1,600-year-old Domitilla catacombs after Italian art experts used laser technology to remove centuries of grit and grime.

The catacombs, or underground cemeteries, are named after a Roman noble family and are considered the most extensive in the Italian capital, drawing thousands of tourists.

The painstaking seven-year restoration, backed by the Vatican, focused on two burial chambers commissioned by successful bakers working in ancient Rome in the fourth century.

The restoration revealed spectacular frescoes showing how wealthy Roman aristocrats abandoned their pagan mythology to embrace Christianity.

Archaeologist Fabrizio Bisconti, head of the Vatican body responsible for ancient archaeology, said many frescoes had been discovered in Rome’s catacombs over the past 25 years.

But he said the latest revelation is significant, as the rooms had been completely covered in a black patina and graffiti.

“With the use of laser, the decorative work of the two chambers is shown in all its splendor, offering us a real discovery, even though the two chambers have been known about for many centuries,” he said.

The Domitilla catacombs are close to the ancient Appian Way and contain an underground basilica and four levels of corridors, chambers and crypts where 150,000 Christians and martyrs were buried. They span more than 10 miles.

The frescoes that were brought to light had been hidden under layers of dirt, algae and smoke left behind by oil lamps.

Using lasers, restorers discovered frescoes of pagan figures as well as biblical figures such as Moses and Noah on the chambers’ surface.

One ceiling fresco features an image of Jesus on a throne and two men, believed to be saints or Christian martyrs, seated beside him.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who heads the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, said the catacombs were a reminder of “the passage of conversion to the new faith” and the importance of Domitilla as a Christian burial site.

“Between the third and fourth centuries they welcomed both the common faithful and the martyrs,” Ravasi said in a statement.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, many of the catacombs were forgotten and later raided for their art treasures. They were rediscovered in the 16th century by Antonio Bosio, an archaeologist who loved to leave his name scribbled on the frescoes in charcoal.

A new museum featuring sarcophagi, busts and epitaphs is expected to open at the catacombs this month.

end-quote-black-71by52

More images: Lasers reveal long-hidden Roman frescoes with biblical themes

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

 

Genocide Remembrance

Remembering. Then acting to build a more just future for all.

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

Begin quoteThis day is set aside in the calendar of the church to hold in remembrance those who have died and those whose lives have been severely damaged as a result of acts of genocide: the systematic and intentional destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people.

This day is chosen for the commemoration because the international community recognizes April 24 as a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, the systematic annihilation of the Armenian people during and just after World War I. On April 24, 1915, more than 250 Armenian notables—civic and political leaders, teachers, writers, and members of the clergy—were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Before the cessation of conflict, it is estimated that as many as one-and-a-half million Armenians perished,…  Read more from the Episcopal Church website

From our website:

 

Collect: The Annunciation (Mar 25)

Behold the Lord’s Servant.

The Annunciation by Rossetti

Ecce Ancilla Domini! (Behold the Lord’s Servant)
Painting, 1849-1850
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 1828-1882

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer, 240

As this Collect makes clear: it’s all connected. In the life of Jesus—and ours—their is birth, the cross and passion, death, and “the glory of … resurrection.” Let us live life fully. ~Fr. Dan

Begin quote

The Annunciation (pp. 188 and 240)

In the Gregorian sacramentary this collect is used as a postcommunion prayer for the feast of the Annunciation [….] Cranmer translated it:

We beseech thee, Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known Christ thy Son’s incarnation by the message of an angel; so by his cross and passion we may be brought into the glory of his resurrection; Through the same Christ our Lord

Both the 1662 revision and this [1979] Book made changes for the sake of clarification, though the substance of the original remains. In an admirable way the collect links the Annunciation and the Incarnation with the themes associated with the time of the year [Lent] in which the feast occurs.

Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book, (New York: The Seabury Press, 1981), p. 200

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

Image: Art in the Christian Tradition (Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

 

Has the Childhood Home of Jesus Been Found?

Jesus’ home in Nazareth

Excavation site in Nazareth

This essay originally appeared on Bible History Daily from the Biblical Archeology Society on March 17, 2017. It is an updated version of a 2015 posting.

Begin quote

The childhood home of Jesus may have been found underneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent in Nazareth, Israel, according to archaeologist Ken Dark.

The excavation site located beneath the convent has been known since 1880, but it was never professionally excavated until the Nazareth Archaeological Project began its work in 2006. In “Has Jesus’ Nazareth House Been Found?” in the March/April 2015 issue of BAR, Ken Dark, the director of the Nazareth Archaeological Project, not only describes the remains of the home itself, but explores the evidence that suggests that this is the place where Jesus spent his formative years—or at least the place regarded in the Byzantine period as the childhood home of Jesus.

The excavation revealed a first-century “courtyard house” that was partially hewn from naturally occurring rock and partially constructed with rock-built walls. Many of the home’s original features are still intact, including doors and windows. Also found at the site were tombs, a cistern and, later, a Byzantine church.

The remains combined with the description found in the seventh-century pilgrim account De Locus Sanctis point to the courtyard house found beneath the convent as what may have been regarded as Jesus’ home in Nazareth. Archaeological and geographical evidence from the Church of the Annunciation, the International Marion Center and Mary’s Well come together to suggest that this location may be where Jesus transitioned from boy to man.

Ken Dark also discusses the relationship between the childhood home of Jesus, Nazareth and the important site of Sepphoris. It has been thought that Sepphoris would have provided Joseph with work and Jesus many important cultural experiences. However, Ken Dark believes that Nazareth was a larger town than traditionally understood and was particularly Jewish in its identity—as opposed to the Roman-influenced Sepphoris. This is partially based on the result of his survey of the Nahal Zippori region that separates Sepphoris and Nazareth geographically.

For more on the childhood home of Jesus, read the full article “Has Jesus’ Nazareth House Been Found?” by Ken Dark in the March/April 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

end-quote-black-71by52

Image: Bible History Daily. Description: “This very well could be the childhood home of Jesus. It doesn’t look inviting, but this rock-hewn courtyard house was quite likely Jesus’ home in Nazareth. The recent excavation by Ken Dark and the Nazareth Archaeological Project revealed evidence suggesting this is where Jesus was raised—or at the least the place venerated as such by the Byzantine period. Photo: Ken Dark.”

Water of Life | Art for Lent 3A

A visual exploration of John 4:14

“Jesus said, ‘ the water that I shall give will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life” John 4:14

Christ and the Samaritan Woman

Broadbent, Stephen, 1961-
The Water of Life
Sculpture, freestanding, metal
Chester Cathedral
Chester GB
Click image for more information.

Detail Views

 

A short introduction to John 4:5-42, the Gospel Lesson appointed for Lent 3A in the Revised Common Lectionary:

Our gospel tells the story of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well. The narrative is rich with themes. Jesus is willing to break with custom in order to talk with one who is both a woman and a foreigner. True worship of God is tied to no particular place. He himself offers living water which wells up to eternal life. The woman learns that Jesus is the expected Messiah, and later others from the town come to believe that he is the world’s Savior. During an interval in the story, Jesus speaks with his disciples concerning his true food and drink, and tells them that the time of harvesting for eternal life is at hand. Introducing the Lessons of the Church Year

Please follow the Case Study link (below) to learn more about this sculpture in the Garden of the Chester Cathedral. ~Fr. Dan

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Episcopal Relief and Development Logo

This is the introduction to work of Episcopal Relief & Development (ERD) to promote gender equality, to empower women, and to oppose and heal gender-based violence. The ERD page contains links to specific programs, data about gender-based violence, and an invitation to help heal a hurting world. Read more

Begin quote

Gender equality, women’s empowerment and gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response are cross-cutting themes that shape and inform all of Episcopal Relief & Development’s integrated programs worldwide. In order to sustainably and equitably address hunger, poverty, disease and post-disaster relief and recovery, local attitudes and customs around gender, power and gender-based violence must also be taken into account.

“Unless women fully enjoy their human rights, to which freedom from violence is inextricably bound, progress toward development will continue to fall short.”  USAID

Gender roles and other social norms impact every area of Episcopal Relief & Development’s work, and addressing gender-based violence (GBV) is a major area of focus. GBV affects the health and well-being of women in every country, regardless of socioeconomic or ‘development’ status, and almost all of our partners identify violence against women and girls as a major obstacle to healthy and prosperous families and communities. There is a great need for the voice and action of faith leaders, communities and institutions to prevent and respond to GBV, and to restore the health, dignity and livelihoods of women and girls affected by violence.

Although GBV is often associated with countries experiencing conflict, it is present everywhere, in various forms such as domestic violence, rape and the marginalization of girls and women across cultures and nations. Stemming from attitudes and practices around gender and power that are deeply ingrained in society and culture, GBV is a sensitive issue and often falls by the wayside of community dialogues and interventions. Change must come from within those communities to be lasting and effective, and faith leaders have a unique position of trust and influence at both the individual and community levels to enable and encourage such change. Our programs aim to empower these leaders and to leverage their roles in their communities to become champions for the support, protection and empowerment of survivors of violence, and of women and girls in general. Read more about this on the ERD website.

end-quote-black-71by52

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

 

Commission on the Status of Women 61 in 2017 (UN Women)

UN Women (Homepage)

Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment, & GBV (Episcopal Relief & Development)