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Carved Pomegranates

The sixth century doorpost in the basilica has a carved panel with pomegranates.

Καὶ ποιήσεις ἐπὶ τὸ λῶμα τοῦ ὑποδύτου κάτωθεν, ὡσεὶ ἐξανθούσης ρόας ροΐσκους ἐξ ὑακίνθου καὶ πορφύρας καὶ κοκκίνου διανενησμένου καὶ βύσσου κεκλωσμένης ἐπί τοῦ λώματος τοῦ ὑποδύτου κύκλῳ· τὸ αὐτὸ εἶδος ροΐσκους χρυσοῦς καὶ κώδωνας ἀναμέσον τούτων περικύκλῳ.

And under the fringe of the robe below thou shalt make as it were pomegranates of a flowering pomegranate tree, of blue, and purple, and spun scarlet, and fine linen spun, under the fringe of the robe round about: golden pomegranates of the same shape, and bells round about between these. (Exodus 28:33)

The golden bells alternating with the pomegranates represent the brilliance of good works. They are the two pursuits through which virtue is acquired, namely, faith toward the divine and conscience toward life. The great Paul adds these pomegranates and bells to Timothy’s garment, saying that he should have ‘faith and a good conscience’ (1 Timothy 1:19). So let faith sound forth pure and loud in the preaching of the holy Trinity and let life imitate the nature of the pomegranate’s fruit.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

6 comments to Carved Pomegranates

  • Sara-Anna

    They are very lovely, and especially as they are so old….and I’m guessing whoever was given the task of stringing that electrical wire down the wall was not an artist or he would have placed it along the edge of the frame instead down the middle of it! Can’t help noticing things like that…

    • Father Justin

      The thin cord is a curtain pull that allows a heavy curtain to be drawn over the massive doorway in the wintertime. This prevents cold air from entering the nave every time someone opens the door to the narthex. A curtain was probably installed in the eighteenth century, when so many other changes were made to the church. We are grateful that today there is a greater respect for antiquity.

  • Clare Estrada

    Is the wood stain from actual pomegranates?

  • Maria

    Its amazing

    I have never seen it before
    Thanks Father
    Just because of your photographs … I know St Catherine’s

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