Sunday, March 23, 2008


Western Easter Sunday this year falls on an uncommonly early date. The last time this occurred was in 1913 and the next time will be in 2160. The earliest possible date, 22 March, is even more rare: the last time was 1818 and the next time will be 2285. Until 1582 the date of Easter was identical in both the Western and Eastern church, after that point the different methods of calculation at times led to wide variations. This year there is over a month difference between the Western and Eastern observations of Easter.

Of course the differences between the two rites extended far beyond the dates of Easter and are best left to theological minds. But this past month in visiting the 12th century Duomo in Spoleto, the 9th century Basilica of Santa Prassede in Rome and various churches in Athens I was struck by how close they were artistically in earlier times.

Sozsi Crucifix in Spoleto
This life-size crucifix by Alberto Soszi dating from 1178 once stood behind the alter of the Duomo in Spoleto. It is parchment mounted on wood and is now conserved in a glass case elsewhere in the Duomo.

Window display of Good Friday vessels in Athens
A window display in Athens of vestments and vessels for Good Friday though modern reflects the iconic tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Crucifix and Icons - Spoleto 13th Century
There is very little difference between the painting style of this 13th crucifix from Spoleto and the one in the window above.

Aspe Mosaics - Santa Prassede, Rome
The Basilica di Santa Prassede here in Rome is filled with stunning examples of 9th century mosaics. This apse mosaic of Christ the Redeemer is very much in the Byzantine style that was to be replaced by a more realistic style in the West but remain central to the Eastern Church.

Pinturicchio fresco - Cappella Eroli
This fresco of the Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist and St. Stephen in the Capella Eroli in the Duomo at Spoleto is by the 15th century artist Pinturicchio. It shows the change in style that was evolving in the Western Church during the Renaissance.

Icon of the Madonna and Child - Athens
Whereas this beautiful Madonna and Child is a modern continuation of the Eastern tradition of icon painting from the 11th century.

23 marzo - Pasqua di Risurrezione


Doralong said...

How beautiful! Thanks for another lovely trip someplace fantastic!

Lorraine said...

Oh, those are awesome. Thanks for sharing!

BigAssBelle said...

gorgeous. i have been contemplating a move to guanajuato, mexico. a blogger friend was in san miguel de allende, not far from guanajuato, over easter, and he took the most magnificent photos.

it made me realize, as your post does, that our celebrations in this country are too commercialized and thus devoid of any real meaning.

i want to live someplace real. i am increasingly disenchanted with my country.