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Fr Roten Blog #8: Russia

In the Shadow of the Onion Domes Russian Artists' Cooperative – Linden Wood




Crushed by the bulky prominence of the five onion domes? Or maybe enhanced and magnified by the opulent church structure? The very center of both manger and dome can only be the one whom we call the Christchild and recognize as the Pantocrator (the omnipotent Lord). He incarnates both human frailty and grandeur. As many other things in religion, onion domes have a rich symbolic meaning. They are compared to burning candles. Originally built to prevent snow from piling on the roof, each dome may now -- since the 18th century -- represent a holy person. A cluster of five domes may represent Jesus Christ and the four evangelists. Some scholars tell us that the onion shape was influenced by the edicula (shrine) in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Others see a resemblance with Muslim art. Amid these mighty towers let us not forget that the Christchild reconciles not only manger and dome; he also brings together the proverbial cats and dogs. Reprinted with permission: University of Dayton, Marian Library Collection. All rights reserved.

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