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Amazing Medieval Architecture of Pereslavl-Zalessky

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William Brumfield (Wikipedia) is a genuine treasure in the field of Russian studies.

He is the world’s leading expert on northern Russian architecture, and has produced an invaluable body of work on the subject.

<figcaption>The Trinity-Danilov Monastery continues to attract crowds from all over the world</figcaption>
The Trinity-Danilov Monastery continues to attract crowds from all over the world

He has singlehandedly saved for posterity a huge amount of material, which, if not for him, would have been lost, not only to the west, but to Russians to.  

Anything he writes is of the highest caliber.


The Golden Ring town of Pereslavl-Zalessky boasts a number of notable frescoes in its monastic complexes.

Although less well known today than Vladimir, Suzdal or Novgorod, the town of Pereslavl-Zalessky was one of the most significant centers of medieval Russian culture. Indeed, its Trinity-Danilov Monastery contains one of most impressive examples of medieval Russian fresco art–all the more remarkable for depicting apocalyptic scenes of destruction and damnation.

Founded in 1152 by Prince Yury Dolgoruky (“the long-armed”), Pereslavl-Zalessky was strategically located on major routes from the interior of medieval Rus to the Volga River and the White Sea. Its center was marked by the ancient limestone Cathedral of the Transfiguration and a fortified area with a high earthen rampart – both of which still stand today.

The numerous monasteries of Pereslavl-Zalessky, located in the town and overlooking nearby Lake Pleshcheevo, were particularly important in the political and spiritual life of the Muscovite state. Among the oldest are the Monastery of St. Nicetas (Nikita), located on high ground to the north of Lake Pleshcheevo; and the Goritsky Monastery, overlooking the lake to the south.

The founder of the Trinity Monastery was a young monk named Daniil, born in Pereslavl-Zalessky in the late 15th century. Tonsured as a boy at the Borovsk-St. Pafnuty Monastery, Daniil returned to his hometown where he lived first at the Nicetas Monastery and then at Goritsky Monastery, where he became the hegumen, or abbot.

Known for his charity to the poor and homeless, Daniil received permission to establish a new monastery on lower ground near the fortress. 1508 is the accepted year of the founding of the monastery, originally dedicated to All Saints.

In recognition of his spiritual authority, Daniil was appointed advisor and confessor to the ruler of Muscovy, Grand Prince Basil III (1479-1533). By 1525 ,Basil faced a possible dynastic crisis due to the lack of a male heir. With the support of the church Basil annulled his marriage to Solomoniia Saburova, who entered Suzdal’s Intercession Convent.

Basil’s second marriage, to Elena Glinskaya, did not initially produce the desired issue. In supplication for the birth of a son, the royal couple undertook pilgrimages to monasteries. The Trinity Monastery, under the spiritual guidance of Daniil, was particularly revered by Basil. With the birth in August 1530 of his son Ivan IV (subsequently known as Ivan the Terrible), Basil gratefully supported the construction of the monastery’s main church, the Cathedral of the Trinity.

Built of brick between 1530 and 1532, the Trinity Cathedral is an excellent example of early 16th-century church design, with a square plan and a symmetrical division into three bays. Despite the modification of its roofline, which originally followed the curves of the semicircular gables (zakomary), the basic structure of the Trinity Cathedral remains intact.

The cathedral is crowned by a single cupola on a high cylinder, or drum. As the monastery’s primary masonry structure during the 16th century, the white-walled cathedral served as a landmark among the surrounding dark log structures.

Despite its status at the Muscovite court, the monastery shared in the chaos that afflicted central Russia during the latter part of Ivan the Terrible’s reign. The situation worsened after the death of Tsar Boris Godunov in 1605. Without a clear successor to the throne, Russia was wracked by competing armies and massive social disorder during what came to be known as the Time of Troubles.

Pereslavl-Zalessky supported successive competing factions, none of them successful. Much of the population was killed or died of disease and hunger. In 1608 the town was occupied by Polish-Lithuanian forces who sacked the monasteries – Holy Trinity among them.

As it gradually recovered after this devastation, Pereslavl-Zalessky and its monasteries benefited from the location on a major route to the north. During the long reign of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich (r. 1645-76), the Trinity Monastery returned to court favor.

Equally important was the support of the energetic prelate Jonah Sysoevich (ca. 1607-90). As metropolitan of the wealthy diocese based in the neighboring town of Rostov, Jonah took an active interest in establishing the cult of Daniil at the Trinity Monastery. In 1653 he supervised the discovery of Daniil’s relics on the monastery grounds.

This proved to be the first step toward a rapid canonization in 1653-54 with the approval of Patriarch Nikon in Moscow. In 1660, Jonah built a chapel dedicated to Daniil at the north wall of the Trinity Cathedral.

The canonization of Daniil led to a vibrant period in the monastery’s history. Large donations from wealthy patrons as well as the Muscovite court enabled the monastery manager to embark on the long-delayed painting of the interior cathedral walls.

Fortuitously, the project occurred at a time of extraordinary creativity among groups of painters in Yaroslavl and Kostroma. These painters were active not only in their own flourishing towns, but also in Rostov and Moscow under the patronage of Jonah.

With his high regard for the Trinity Monastery, Jonah agreed to send one of the most accomplished groups of Kostroma painters, including the masters Gurii Nikitin and Sila Savin. Although occupied with complex projects in Moscow (notably, the repainting of the frescoes at the Archangel Michael Cathedral in the Kremlin), the Kostroma painters arrived at Trinity Monastery in 1662.

Remarkably, the painters completed the major subjects by the fall of that year. But due to the demand for their work, they were pulled from the cathedral and did not return until 1682, despite many entreaties from the abbot.

To this day, the frescoes retain their power. In part this can be explained by the deep piety of their traditional, archaic style of expression. Yet the unusual content – the Apocalypse – is equally compelling.

Why the Apocalypse? Russian churches often depict the Last Judgment on the west wall, yet a detail representation of the Apocalypse (from the vision of St. John on Patmos) is rare. Perhaps memories of the Time of Troubles played a role in the choice of subject. But the Russian Orthodox Church had also entered a time of great turbulence in the 1650s, when Patriarch Nikon promulgated liturgical reforms that shocked traditional believers.

Although Nikon was deposed, the state insisted that his reforms be implemented. The result was a profound schism in the Church and the rise of dissenting groups generally known as Old Believers. Impassioned disputes and persecution swept the church.

Whatever the connection with external events, the Kostroma painters conveyed cataclysmic images taken both from the Book of Genesis and the Book of Revelation, the alpha and omega. On the west wall, for example, Lot and his family are depicted fleeing danger before the destruction of Sodom and Gemorrah. The south wall is especially vivid in its portrayals of phantasmagoric beasts with direct references to passages from the Revelation.

In the dome, high above it all, is a majestic image of Christ Ruler of All (Pantokrator). Considered one of the great accomplishments of medieval Russian art, this fresco is a sublime culmination to the agitated display on the cathedral walls.

The Trinity Monastery continued to flourish during the latter part of the 17th century. Its cathedral was enhanced by the construction of a large “tent” bell tower in 1689. Other structures of that period include the Church of All Saints, built in the 1680s in a modest, appealing design. Of special note is the Church of the Praise of the Virgin (1695) with an unusually large refectory (dining commons) attached.

Most of this construction was supported by Prince Ivan Baryatinsky, who retired to the monastery and took the name Efrem. He also built the west gate church, dedicated to the Tikhvin Icon of the Virgin (1700).

The Trinity-Danilov Monastery was closed in 1923, at the beginning of Soviet rule, and severely vandalized. The cathedral icons were lost or destroyed. A limited attempt to clean the frescoes in 1982 faltered for lack of funding. In 1995 the monastery was finally returned to the church, and the painstaking work of restoration continued. Surviving through decades of neglect, the magnificent frescoes in the Trinity Cathedral have now been revived in all their astonishing brilliance.

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HSE working to amend booster system as people receive multiple appointments

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) is working to amend the coronavirus vaccine system, as multiple channels offering third jabs has caused challenges for the booster campaign, HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor has said.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms O’Connor explained that the booster vaccine was available through vaccination centres, general practitioners and pharmacies.

Some people had gone to their local pharmacy to get their booster vaccine and then had received an appointment at a vaccination centre, she said. She called on people to cancel their vaccination centre appointment if they had received their booster through their GP or pharmacy.

Ms O’Connor’s comments come after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Tuesday that there were 87,000 no-shows for boosters last week, and the chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, Dr Denis McCauley, described the non-attendances as “very disrespectful”.

Ms O’Connor said the priority for the HSE was to get as many people fully vaccinated as possible.

When asked about the lower levels of people in the 60-69 age cohort who have received their booster vaccine, Ms O’Connor said that not everyone in that age group would have had their second vaccine more than five months ago. That was “a natural limiter”.

Ms O’Connor said people possibly were apprehensive or busier, now that many were back at work or were preparing for Christmas, but the vaccine was important as was the booster.

To date more than a million people have received their booster vaccine, she added, and appointments will be offered to people aged between 50 and 59 from Thursday.

“We will also have walk-in centres open to people to get their vaccine and as ever we encourage everybody to avail of the vaccine. It’s really important, especially with a new variant, that we try to protect as many people as possible,” Ms O’Connor said.

‘Be respectful’

Meanwhile, Dr McAuley told Newstalk Breakfast that there were very few no-shows to booster appointments at GP surgeries, because people know their GP personally.

Now was not the time for “messing”, he said in relation to people failing to attend their appointments at vaccine centres.

“If you get a vaccine appointment, make sure that you go there rather than getting your hair done or going shopping – or if it is a work thing, stay on the helpline to get a new appointment.

“Be respectful of the mass vaccination centres. These are people who are working very hard and it is very disrespectful to have over 80,000 people not turn up in one week. It is not appropriate. You wouldn’t do it to your GP so why are you doing it to these healthcare workers.”

There was also a concern that some people were waiting to see what happens with the Omicron variant before getting their booster. Dr McCauley said that the booster would greatly reduce the chances of picking up the virus or having to go into hospital

Dr McCauley said there needed to be “a call to arms” for people to get vaccinated and he warned that when more information about Omicron emerged, booster appointments could be harder to come by.

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All you need to know on getting the Moderna vaccine as a booster

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People due to receive their Covid-19 booster vaccine in coming weeks will primarily be offered the Moderna dose at HSE vaccination centres.

The HSE is reported to have large supplies of Moderna due to expire next month, so that will be the main vaccine administered over coming weeks to the over-60s, over-50s, healthcare workers, and younger people in vulnerable groups – though it will be restricted to people over 30.

Anecdotally there are indications some people may be reluctant to take the Moderna vaccine. This may be due to Irish stocks about to expire shortly and/or confusion about its efficacy. This follows the company’s chief executive Stéphane Bancel warning last week the Moderna jab may not be as effective against Omicron as it had been with the Delta variant.

The HSE has confirmed recipients will have no choice on what vaccine they are given.

What type of coronavirus vaccine is the Moderna jab?

It is a new kind of synthetic “mRNA vaccine” – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is from the same stable. They provide excellent protection against severe illness and hospitalisation – and have played a critical role in reducing Covid-19 deaths since being approved. A downside, however, is that the Moderna version must be kept at -20 degrees.

Should people be worried about receiving a soon to be out-of-date vaccine?





Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland


10,093,390


8,193,802

In short no, as they retain the ability to boost antibody production within currently approved time spans – though inevitably potency wanes over time. The Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) vaccines were put on the market with emergency use authorisation of up to six months.

This compares with a shelf life of two to three years for most vaccines and other medicines. This is an “inevitable consequence of getting the vaccines out of the door as quickly as possible”, chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Gino Martini told the journal BMJ.

Months later, these “emergency” expiry dates remain in force for these vaccines. For approved Covid-19 vaccines, the initial shelf lives were based on data available at the time of submission for regulatory approval.

The long-term shelf life has not been extended for any of the vaccines. A shelf life extension would require supporting evidence from relevant stability studies. Vaccine manufacturers are monitoring batches of vaccines with the aim of providing a longer shelf life; probably the usual two years.

What about the Omicron threat?

While Moderna said existing vaccines including its mRNA version will probably be less effective against the Omicron variant, most experts believe they will continue to provide significant protection against severe disease and hospitalisation. It should be stressed, however, definitive indication has yet to emerge. That will be a matter of weeks, if not days.

Moderna has confirmed it is developing an Omicron-specific booster though manufacturing the new vaccine would take time. Tens of millions of doses could be available in the first quarter of 2022, but scale-up would not happen until the second quarter – provided it is shown such boosters are required.

What is the latest indication on the benefits of mixing vaccines?

Evidence supporting a mixing of vaccine doses has hardened over recent months. A study this week shows combining a first dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine with a second dose of either the Moderna or the Novavax jabs results in far higher levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells compared with two doses of the AstraZeneca jab.

This finding also has important implications for lower-income countries that have not yet completed their primary vaccination campaigns as it suggests you do not need access to mRNA vaccines – and therefore ultra-cold storage facilities – to trigger an extremely potent Covid-19 vaccine response.

The study also bolsters confidence that using the Moderna vaccine as a booster dose in people who have previously received the AstraZeneca jab should result in high levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells.

It follows separate data published last week suggesting the Pfizer and Moderna booster jabs can dramatically strengthen the body’s immune defences.

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Woman (90s) dies following single-vehicle crash in Co Clare

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A woman in her 90s has died following a single-vehicle crash in Co Clare in the early hours of Tuesday.

The incident occurred at about 12.30am at Annagh, Miltown Malbay. The woman, who was the driver and sole occupant of the car involved in the crash, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her body was removed to Limerick University Hospital, where gardaí say a postmortem will take place at a later date.

The road has been closed to facilitate an exam by Garda forensic collision investigators, and local diversions are in place.

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses – particularly road users who may have camera footage – to come forward. Anyone with information can contact Kilrush Garda station (065 908 0550), the confidential line (1800 666 111), or any Garda station.

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