This article is from a series by the invaluable William Brumfield, (Wikipedia), Professor of Slavic Studies at Tulane University, New Orleans, USA.
Brumfield is the world’s leading historian of Russian architecture. He makes frequent trips to Russia, often to her remote regions, and records the most unusual examples of surviving architecture with detailed, professional photography.
His most recent book is a real treasure, Architecture At The End Of The Earth, Photographing The Russian North (2015). (Amazon). This truly beautiful book was made possible by the support of a US philanthropist, and its true cost is 3 times its retail price, and we can’t recommend it highly enough. Here is our 2015 review of it.
Bravo to RBTH for making Brumfield’s work possible, and providing such a great platform for his beautiful photography. We recommend visiting the RBTH page, which has a slide show for each article with many more pictures than we can fit in here.
Don’t believe in miracles? Well, we can assure you, Brumfield’s work is undoubtedly just that.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Russian chemist and photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky invented a complex process for vivid, detailed color photography (see box text below). Inspired to use this new method to record the diversity of the Russian Empire, he photographed numerous architectural monuments during the decade before the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in 1917.
Certainly among the most colorful structures Prokudin-Gorsky photographed is the Church of the Hodegetria Icon in Rostov Veliky, which he visited in 1911. My own photographs of this church were taken during several visits between 1987 and 2012.
Located some 130 miles northeast of Moscow, Rostov Veliky (the Great) is one of the earliest historically attested towns in Russia, first mentioned under 862 in the chronicle “Tale of Bygone Years.” Its main architectural ensemble is the majestic kremlin, which rises above the north shore of Lake Nero.
Rostov kremlin. Northwest corner tower & Church of the Hodegetria Icon, south view. July 12, 2012. Summer 1911. / Photo: Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky
The kremlin’s original designation was the Court of the Metropolitan, in recognition of its primary builder, Metropolitan Jonah of Rostov. After the Patriarch, Metropolitan is the highest ecclesiastical rank in the Russian Orthodox Church. Jonah Sysoevich (ca. 1607-90) was the son of a country priest named Sysoi. Tonsured at the Resurrection Monastery in Uglich, he rose through the monastic hierarchy, and in 1652 was appointed Metropolitan of Rostov by the newly elected Patriarch Nikon in Moscow.
Rostov kremlin. Northwest corner tower&Church of the Hodegetria Icon, southeast view. Oct. 4, 1992. / Photo: William Brumfield
Jonah had at his command villages with some 16,000 peasants, as well as the best craftsmen and artists of a large, prosperous diocese. Within 20 years — between 1670 and 1690 — Jonah’s builders erected not only several large churches and residences for the Metropolitan’s Court, but also the kremlin’s magnificent walls and towers.
After Jonah’s death in 1690, his work at the kremlin was continued by the Metropolitan Josephat, whose buildings included a church dedicated to the Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God. The Hodegetria Icon, which depicts Mary holding the Christ Child on her left arm and pointing to the infant with her right hand, is one of the most venerated objects in Russian Orthodoxy. A particularly notable example was held in the Dormition Cathedral in Smolensk.
Rostov kremlin. Church of the Hodegetria Icon, south facade, window details. August 21, 1988. / Photo: William Brumfield
Completed in 1693 at the northwest corner of the kremlin walls, the Rostov Church of the Hodegetria Icon underwent modifications in the 18th century. However, its basic form, featuring a single cupola and an open gallery on the upper floor, remained. The exuberantly painted diamond pattern on its exterior was apparently instigated by Afanasy Volkhovsky, bishop of Rostov from 1763-1776, who was known to be fond of “Moscow Baroque” ornamentalism.
Rostov kremlin. Church of the Hodegetria Icon & Church of the Resurrection, southwest view. Aug. 7, 1987. / Photo: William Brumfield
The diamond pattern was originally imported to Muscovy by Italian architects at the turn of the 16th century. The earliest example is the “Faceted” or “Rusticated Palace,” completed with diamond rustication in the Moscow Kremlin in the 1490s. Although the diamond pattern had an enduring appeal in Russia, local builders rarely applied it in carved stone. It proved much easier to paint the facets on brick walls as a colorful trompe l’oeil. The surge of ornamentalism at the end of the 17th century saw a revival of this technique throughout Muscovy, from Kostroma to Sergiev Posad. The Rostov church is a late example.
With the death of Josephat in 1701, little else of note was built in the Rostov kremlin. Skilled masons throughout Russia were drafted into the construction of St. Petersburg, founded in 1703. With the transfer of the regional metropolitanate from Rostov to Yaroslavl in 1787, the Rostov kremlin began to decay.
Rostov kremlin. Church of the Hodegetria Icon, south facade, upper level&gallery. Aug. 21, 1988. / Photo: William Brumfield
Fortunately, in the late 19th century Rostov merchants gathered funds to maintain the kremlin ensemble. In 1883, the White Chamber, built as a banquet hall for the Metropolitan of Rostov, opened as a museum of church antiquities that was the predecessor of the current distinguished Rostov Kremlin Museum. Thus, through local pride, Metropolitan Jonah’s visionary project was preserved for Prokudin-Gorsky and subsequent generations. A comparison of my photographs of the Hodegetria Church with those of Prokudin-Gorsky shows few changes over the decades.
A notable difference just beneath the roof is the disappearance of a row of iconic wall paintings, with a large image of the Virgin of the Sign (Znamenie) in the middle. It is not clear when they were originally created, but such exterior paintings were usually effaced during the Soviet period.
Rostov kremlin. Northwest corner tower & Church of the Hodegetria Icon, view from Metropolitan’s Chambers. Aug. 7, 1987. / Photo: William Brumfield
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines
Remains found in Dublin adds intrigue to search for Robert Emmet’s grave
Skeletal remains have been found at one of the locations identified as a possible last resting place of Robert Emmet who was executed on this day in 1803.
The remains were found during an excavation at the back of St Paul’s Church in Stoneybatter in Dublin.
The disappearance of the body of Robert Emmet is one of the great mysteries of Irish history.
Emmet was tried and then hanged for instigating the ill-fated 1803 rebellion. He became a symbol of Irish martyrdom for his speech from the dock in which he concluded: “Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace, and my name remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written.”
After he was publicly hanged outside St Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street on September 20th, 1803, his head was displayed to the crowd by the hangman Thomas Galvin. The remains of Emmet’s body was taken to Bully’s Acre in the grounds of what is now the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and buried there.
When some of his friends went to reintern his remains from Bully’s Acre to St Michan’s Church in Church Street, a church associated with the United Irishmen, they found there was no body there, and so began a search which endures to this day.
His great-nephew Dr Thomas Addis Emmet requested an archaeological dig at the family vault in St Peter’s Church in Aungier Street to mark the centenary of Emmet’s death in 1903, but that proved to be unsuccessful.
St Paul’s Church is another contender in the saga of Emmet’s remains. It was the parish church of Kilmainham Gaol’s doctor and effective governor Dr Edward Trevor.
In his book In the Footsteps of Robert Emmet, JJ Reynolds speculated that Trevor removed Emmet’s body and put it in an unmarked grave in the grounds of St Paul’s Church. This was to ensure that his grave would not become a shrine for Irish nationalism.
The church, which was the venue for the consecration of the philosopher George Berkeley as Bishop of Cloyne in 1734, has been converted into the Spade Enterprise Centre, a not-for-profit social enterprise unit.
The land where the skeletal remains were found is being turned into a shared kitchen for small business enterprises in the area.
Archaeologist Franc Miles said burials in the grounds were from 1702 to the 1860s. A extant set of burial records remain, but Emmet, if he really is buried there, would have no record.
Previous exhumations were carried out when the graveyard was closed in 1860s to make way for a school on the site.
“With all the evacuations, we were left with bits and pieces of body. There weren’t many full skeletons,” he said.
Mr Miles said it all the gravemarkers and stones were removed in the 1860s “so all you are left with really are bones.”
Mr Miles said it would be difficult if not impossible to identify Emmet’s remains even if they are buried in the grounds of St Paul’s Church.
His own “educated guess” is that Emmet’s body is still buried somewhere in Bully’s Acre.
As many of his supporters have said over the last two centuries: “Do not look for him. His grave is Ireland.”
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Officials pushed for State to buy direct provision centres from private firms
The Government should buy a number of privately-owned direct provision centres as a “priority” as it would be more “cost effective” for the State to run the facilities for asylum seekers, international protection officials have said.
The savings arising from owning the accommodation centres rather than paying private contractors to do so “could be considerable”, departmental briefing documents provided to Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman last year state.
The vast majority of direct provision centres are currently owned and run by private companies, with accommodation providers having received some €1.6 billion since 1999, including €183 million last year.
The latest figures show some 7,150 people are in the system of seven State-owned sites and 39 private centres. A further 24 commercially-owned premises are being used to provide emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.
The briefing document, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, says that housing people seeking asylum in State-owned centres would provide the “best protection from the vulnerability of present market reliance”.
“They are also much more cost efficient to run, and the State owns the asset,” it notes.
The document suggested that State centres should aim to accommodate 5,000 people, and “allowing the private sector to supply the rest is regarded as an achievable and reasonable target”.
The purchase of existing centres from private providers “to immediately boost the State’s footprint in this area should be considered as a priority,” the internal document said.
“Some service providers may be open to this and the market appears to be favourable at present,” it said.
The internal briefing suggested the department could then seek private companies or NGOs to run the centres, which would be a “competitive cost option”.
Ongoing maintenance for centres owned by the State was also “badly needed,” as current pressures on the Office of Public Works (OPW) meant it was not possible “for immediate repairs to be done if required”.
“In exploring the model of more State centres, we need to agree and acquire a capital budget,” the briefing stated.
“State land does not require planning permission for new centres as the Minister has a power under the Acts, whereby the OPW can grant the planning permission and this is usually a three-month process. It is not subject to appeal.”
The document says that State centres “can also have a bigger footprint as it will be a permanent fixture in the locality”. In recent years a number of plans for private providers to open direct provision centres in regional towns have been met with protests from locals and anti-immigration activists.
Mr O’Gorman’s department has sought to reform the direct provision system and is seeking to replace the network of centres with a new system of accommodation and supports by the end of 2024.
A department spokesman confirmed the State has not bought any new centres since the briefing note was written. The spokesman said under the planned overhaul of direct provision, asylum-seekers who arrived into the country would initially be housed in a number of reception and integration centres.
Asylum-seekers will spend a maximum of four months in the reception centres before moving into housing secured through Approved Housing Bodies.
“These centres will be State-owned and purpose built to provide suitable accommodation for approximately 2,000 people at any one time, to cater for the flow-through of the 3,500 applicants over a 12-month period,” he said.
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