Wednesday, June 16, 2004

LRC pick
More on Catholic Germany
by Sabine Barnhart
The entire Middle East holds historical and spiritual importance to many people.

The late Russian man who mounted and framed many of the icons in my living-room chapel was a devout паломник (pilgrim) to the Holy Land many times, just like people in tsarist times.

Pantaleon

St Pantaleone (Panteleimon in Greek and therefore in Russian as well), the doctor who worked for free, is very popular among the Eastern Orthodox as a saint of healing.

A pilgrimage takes place once a year.

The mother of the late, great Catherine de Hueck Doherty was born a Lutheran (and so may have been an ethnic German) but was very keen on this devotion - паломничество - among the Russian Orthodox.

Of course there's the famous book The Way of a Pilgrim, 'Путь Странника', which literally means 'Way (Path) of a Stranger' as странники were free-wandering holy men in tsarist times and not people on their way to a specific place like the folk 'longen to goon on pilgrimages' to 'Caunterbury' in Chaucer's day or to Compostela to this day.

That book grabbed me when I read it 12 years ago - though I was familiar with the tradition (having first gone to a Byzantine Rite Liturgy in 1985), it first hit me that this was a Catholic tradition with 1) a mystical 'kick' to it that seemed unique (as great as The Key of Heaven and suchlike are, the Russian prayer books, with prayers written by the Greek church fathers such as St Basil the Great, seem far more profound and timeless, speaking to people today) and 2) still exists and not just as a museum piece. The book (actually I read the very pretty little Shambhala abridged version translated by Olga Savin) was my 'Russian ambassadors standing gobsmacked in Hagia Sophia' experience.

Went to an exhibit of Russian royal memorabilia five years ago and that continuity struck me again - the highback chasubles and the icons were the same as those used today.

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