Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mary Shot

Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican offered this account of a new exhibit in Washington.

Yesterday a Russian Orthodox icon of Mary and the Child Jesus went on display in the Memorial Hall of the Roman Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The icon, which depicts the Virgin Mary holding her son, Jesus, has 13 bullet holes in it. (The bullets are still there, imbedded in the thick wood of the 19th-century icon. The icon is a 19th-century copy of the famous 16th-century icon of Kazan which Pope John Paul II kept for many years in his apartment in Rome, and which was finally returned to Russia on August 28, 2004.)

Several of the bullet holes are in a straight line across the chest of the Virgin Mary, where a blast from a machine-gun evidently strafed the icon with a burst of gunfire.Mary's face is untouched. But her body, had it been a real body, would have been torn apart and killed by those bullets. There are also bullet wounds in the image of her son, Jesus, as he sits in her arms.

Strikingly, the icon has been transported from Russia to be put on display this Advent in Washington as the centerpiece in an extraordinary, moving exhibition on the revival of faith in Russia.

"Before the Russian Revolution in 1917, there were more icons and churches dedicated to Mary in Russia than in any other country in the world," said Father Victor Potapov, a Russian Orthodox priest who is rector of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist in Washington, during a brief ceremony at 10:30 am to open the exhibit. "Russia in those years, for that reason, was sometimes called 'The House of Mary.'"

Potapov said that more Christian martyrs suffered imprisonment and death under anti-Christian regimes during the 20th century than during the entire three centuries of persecution that the early Church suffered under the Roman Empire. "More Christians died during 70 years of Communism than during 300 years under the Roman," Potapov said. "But the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith. And Christian faith is being renewed today in Russia."

1 comment:

existentialist said...

Thank you for this. I am an Orthodox Christian and I appreciate your respect for our faith.