Saturday, August 16, 2008

A still-small soul

Yesterday's post was about the celebration of the dormition of Mary. The outside of the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion looks like this.

A widely accepted Christian tradition has it that Mary fell into slumber on Jerusalem's Mount Zion.

When Kaiser Wilhelm II visited the Holy Land in 1898 the Turkish sultan presented him with this piece of land. The German Benedictines then built this church, finished in 1910.

The massive towers give it a look of a medieval fortress. And indeed, whenever I see it I start humming Martin Luther's famous hymn "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott," "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."
Israelis come to concerts in the church for its fantastic acoustics and wonderful organ, one of the largest in the Middle East.

This centuries-old icon for the feast is called "The Dormition of the Theotokos" [Theotokos meaning "God-bearer" in Greek].

The image below is taken from the website of Balamand University and Monastery in Lebanon; the icon's full story can be found there.

Once, when searching for the meaning of the figures of the icon, I read something which struck me as an amazing idea:

"Who is the little baby being held by Jesus? It's a depiction of Mary's soul, small because it is only her first day in Heaven." - [Italics are mine!]



Shimmy Mom said...

So beautiful. Thank you for sharing your amazing posts. You also have an award on my site.

kjpweb said...

Gorgeous images and detail! You're a fantastic tourist guide! :)
Cheers, Klaus

Rambling Woods said...

You are quite the historian Dina...

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

I very much enjoyed this post. The photos of the church are wonderful as well as the information about the building. I don't think I had ever before seen either of the two pieces of art you included, and I find the idea of Mary's soul in Jesus' hands fascinating.

Louise said...

Incredible building. I can't imagine how wonderful a concert would be there.

Thanks for your always meticulous research on your posts. I always learn so much!

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Absolutely beautiful, Dina! Your attention to details is amazing!

ichandrae said...

Hello Dina.
The gilded gold of the icon and your presentation really are exalting.
I was brought up in a strong catholic familly and your blessings from Jerusalem, emanating from the roots of my religion create a resonance with my deeper spirit.
The Dormition Abbey must be a beautiful place to visit. Every church always is a treasure to step into and this one steeped in history with the beautiful organ-would be delightful and thankyou for the candle lit blessing from the church also.
I love your sensitivity to catholicism even though you aren't catholic. These experiences must be exalting for you.

have a wonderful day.

Meead S. said...


YTSL said...

Wonderful piece of architecture. Interestingly, the first photo gave no sense of scale and I thought it was a miniature... but after seeing the second photo in which the building towers over a man, I finally got a sense of how large it is! :)

Kris said...

There is a really interesting mix of influences on that building. I like it very much!

Sherry Stewart said...

That is interesting about Mary being small because it is her first day in heaven. I wonder how many of these kids of ideas have been lost?
You have so much history of Christianity there to observe, and it seems so much broader than what we ever get here in the west.
Thanks for sharing this....