Nativity of the Virgin Mary

The chapel at Bostane is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. A card on the wall, for the benefit of the chanter, gives the dismissal hymn for the feast in beautiful calligraphy. A spot of beeswax keeps the nail from pulling out of the plaster wall.

Thy Nativity, O Theotokos, hath proclaimed joy to all the universe; for from thee hath arisen the Sun of righteousness, Christ our God; yea having loosed the curse, he hath given a blessing; and having brought to naught death, hath granted us life eternal.

Translated by J N W B Robertson, 1894

5 comments to Nativity of the Virgin Mary

  • Seraphim

    Yes, quite lovely. Is this actually handwritten or printed by machine? I didn’t realize how beautiful Greek calligraphy could be. Imagine selections from Sappho or Homer in this style. Thank you for posting this aide-memoire although it is more than that!

    • Father Justin

      If you click on the low resolution screen image, the higher resolution photograph will download. At higher resolution, you can see the small discrepancies that are the mark of the scribe and the hand held nib. But he was likely copying a printed prototype for the opening initial letter, and perhaps for the borders as well.

  • Richard Saloom

    Dear Father Justin,

    In our time, do many people actively practice calligraphy to a degree similar to the better older works? Is calligraphy still done at St. Catherines? In calligraphy is there a training program or school for persons desiring to make the more remarkable examples?

    I really enjoy your photographs. They are attractive, while at the same time posing questions and giving answers.


    • Father Justin

      One of the most beautiful manuscripts to survive from Byzantine times is the tenth century Menologion of the Emperor Basil. Each page has a paragraph of text summarizing the feast or the saint of the day, and then there is a half page illumination depicting the feast or saint. I have a friend in Greece who is both a talented calligrapher and iconographer. He took a sheet of traditional parchment, and reproduced one of the pages from the Menologion, copying the ornate Greek majuscule calligraphy with the title above in gold letters, and the illumination below with rich colours and gold lines. There are many iconographers in Greece today. I think it is more rare to find someone who is equally gifted in Byzantine calligraphy.

  • Maria

    Such a beautiful portrait!! And the full meaning of the truth..

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