Friday, August 26, 2005

Message From +Bishop Christodoulos

This Sunday the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition of the Theotokos.


"It was fitting that the she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped when giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father, It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God"

---St John of Damascene(c.749AD)

The Dormition icon is based not on Scriptural accounts, for there are none, but on sacred tradition. It is in accord with the hymnography of the Church, particularly with the expostilarion that is chanted on August 15 and the fourteen days that precede it. This Hymn says,
"O ye Apostles from afar, being now gathered together here in the vale of Gethsemane, give burial to my body; and Thou, my Son and my God, receive Thou my spirit."

Although nothing is said about the death of the All-holy Virgin in the New Testament, the term that is used in the icon to denote here death; Koimesis, does appear in it. Also, verb forms of this word appear in it a good number of times to refer to the event of dying and the state of death in the case of the righteous. The noun koimesis is used in the Gospel according to St. John in speaking of the death of Lazarus.

---Constantine Cavarnos, A Guide to Byzantine Iconography, V. 1


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