Announcements for August 15-21, 2010

Dormition by El Greco

Today:  8:30 am Matins; 9:30 am Festal Divine Liturgy & Brunch

Tuesday:  6:00 pm Vespers

Thursday:  6:00 pm Vespers

Saturday:  6:00 pm Vespers

Sunday:  8:30 am Matins; 9:30 am Divine Liturgy & Brunch

The first four Christian centuries are silent regarding the end of the Virgin Mary’s life, though it is asserted, without surviving documentation, that the feast of the Dormition was being observed in Jerusalem shortly after the Council of Ephess in 431.

At the point in the later fifth century when the earliest Dormition traditions surface in manuscripts, and the sudden appearance of three distinct narrative traditions describing the end of Mary’s life: he has characterized them as the “Palm of the Tree of Life” narratives, the “Bethlehem” narratives, and the “Coptic” narratives.

There are similarities between the traditional depictions of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Byzantine iconography and the account of the death of the Egyptian Desert Father, Sisoes the Great.  In both Christ is seen coming to receive the soul of the dying saint surrounded by an aureola or cloud of blinding light and accompanied by the angels and prophets.  In Byzantine iconography the other Christ is shown surrounded by such a cloud of light are those of also seen in icons of the Transfiguration, the Resurrection / Descent into Sheol and the Last Judgment.  In some icons of the Dormition the Theotokos is depicted at the top of the icon in a similar aureola before the opening gates of heaven.  This is reminiscent of contemporary accounts of the deaths of the Desert Fathers and Mothers accompanied by sudden burst of light.  This fact could have come to influence the development of the iconography of the Dormition.  Some people consider the Resurrection (and subsequent image not-made-by-hands of the Savior) to be the result of an instantaneous flash of atomic fusion, as can be seen in Hiroshima to this day.

There are no coincidences.