Jesus is the Answer ..
… to the question: How Do You Get To Heaven?
From a mosaic in a Greek Orthodox Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano. 6th cent.
The ancient Roman fabric was Christianized and dedicated to Sancti Cosma et Damiano in 527 , when Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths, and his daughter Amalasuntha donated the library of the Forum of Peace and a portion of the so-called Temple of Romulus to Pope Felix IV. The pope united the two buildings to create a basilica devoted to two Greek brothers and saints, Cosmas and Damian, in contrast with the ancient pagan cult of the two brothers Castor and Pollux, who had been worshipped in the nearby Temple of Castor and Pollux. The apse was decorated with a Roman-Byzantine mosaic, representing a parousia, the Second Coming of Christ at the end of time. The bodies of Saints Mark and Marcellian were translated, perhaps in the ninth century, to this church, where they were rediscovered in 1583 during the reign of Pope Gregory XIII.
In 1632, Pope Urban VIII ordered the restoration of the basilica. The works, projected by Orazio Torriani and directed by Luigi Arrigucci, raised the floor level seven metres, bringing it equal with the Campo Vaccino, thus avoiding the infiltration of water. Also, a cloister was added. The old floor of the basilica is still visible in the lower church, which is actually the lower part of the first church.
In 1947, the restorations of the Imperial Forums gave a new structure to the church. The old entrance, through the Temple of Romulus, was closed, and the temple restored to its original forms; with the Pantheon, the Temple of Romulus is the best preserved pagan temple in Rome. A new entrance was opened on the opposite side (on via dei Fori Imperiali), whose arch gives access to the cloister, and through this to the side of the basilica.
Next to the new entrance to the complex, there are the rooms with the original marble paving of the Forum of Peace, and the wall where the 150 marble slabs of the Forma Urbis Romae were hung. Through the cloister, the entrance to the church opens on the side of the single nave. The plan of the basilica followed the norms of the Counter-Reformation: a single nave, with three chapels per side, and the big apse, which now looks quite oversized because of the reduction in height of the 17th century restoration, framed by the triumphal arch, also mutilated by that restoration.
The mosaics are masterpieces of 6th-7th century art. In the middle is Christ, with Saint Peter presenting Saint Cosmas and Saint Teodorus (right), and Saint Paul presenting Saint Damian and Pope Felix IV; the latter holds a model of the church.
23.12.2006: (left to right): Pope Felix IV, S. Damian, S. Paul, Christ, S. Peter, S. Cosmas. 6th cent (though Pope Felix has clearly been tarted up at some later point). He erected the church on the site of a temple to the Castori (Romulus and Remus) in 527.
This Russian Orthodox Church in St Petersburg is one of Russia’s mosaic treasures. Its official name is actually the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. So where does the spilled blood reference come from? The blood belongs to the assassinated Alexander II of Russia, who was mortally wounded on that site on March 13, 1881 (Julian date: March 1).
The Church is prominently situated along the Griboedov Canal. The embankment at that point runs along either side of a canal. As the tsar’s carriage passed along the embankment, a grenade thrown by a conspirator exploded. The tsar, shaken but unhurt, got out of the carriage and started to remonstrate with the presumed culprit. Another conspirator took the chance to explode another explosive device, killing himself and wounding the tsar. The tsar, bleeding heavily, was taken back to the Winter Palace where he died a few hours later.
Alexander III started this cathedral as a memorial to his father in 1883 and it was finally completed in1907 under Nicholas II.
St Petersburg’s architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world.
The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day – including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel – but the church’s chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (and Russian, despite his name). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church’s construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics – the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures – but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Savior on Potatoes. It suffered significant damage during the Siege of Leningrad. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for a nearby opera theatre.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been resanctified and does not function as a full-time place of worship. Right now it is a Museum of Mosaic. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, it commemorated only panikhidas. The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.
The shrine is located on the exact spot where Alexander II was wounded.
Four columns of gray violet jasper serve as the base of the shrine. Rising up the shrine, small rectangular columns unite the carved stone awning and the decorated mosaic icons with images of the patron saint of the Romanov family. The columns are supported by a frieze and cornice and stone-carved pediment with vases of jasper along the corners.
The church has an outstanding and varied collection of mosaic icons.
Several icons were completed in the traditions of academic painting, modernist style and Byzantine icon painting. The large icon of St. Alexander Nevsky was created according to a design by Nesterov. The icons of the main iconostasis Mother of God with Child and the Savior were painted to designs by Vasnetsov.
The mosaic panel Pantokrator (Almighty) which depicts Christ giving a blessing with his right hand and holding the gospels in his left, in the platform of the central cupola was painted according to a design by N. Kharlamov.
Parland and Andrey Ryabushkin completed the framed icon mosaic ornaments.