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Author Topic: Syrians heard it through the grapevine  (Read 652 times) Average Rating: 0
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Regnare
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« on: October 14, 2013, 07:39:26 PM »

From what (little) I've seen, Syriac (and only Syriac) vestments seem to have more depictions of grapevines than they do of crosses. What does the grapevine signify, and why does it occur so often in Syriac vestments and altar hangings?

As the title shows, until I get a reply I'm going to assume that this means Marvin Gaye is a saint of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 07:41:36 PM »

I assume it's not at all different than what grape vines symbolize in the Western Churches. But I think the observation that they outnumber crosses is a bit narrow.
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« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2013, 08:42:23 PM »

From what (little) I've seen, Syriac (and only Syriac) vestments seem to have more depictions of grapevines than they do of crosses. What does the grapevine signify, and why does it occur so often in Syriac vestments and altar hangings?

As the title shows, until I get a reply I'm going to assume that this means Marvin Gaye is a saint of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

You'll find gravevines, grape clusters, wheat sheaves, etc. as common decorations on vestments and altar clothes: they are Eucharistic symbols. 

The altar is used only for the Eucharist, not for other sacraments and not for canonical hours (e.g., Vespers, Matins), so its vestments will have Eucharistic symbols. 

For the most part, priests don't vest for non-Eucharistic services like the Hours except to wear a stole for the reading of the Gospel.  They wear full vestments for all sacraments (except when hearing confessions and anointing the sick) because they are usually celebrated in the context of the Liturgy.  So priestly vestments too are basically reserved for the Eucharist, with their use in other rites being exceptional, and so the Eucharistic symbolism is appropriate. 

Depending on the item, you may also see a chalice and prosphora.  And there are plenty of crosses...I've never seen any set of vestments without them, whether or not the main fabric has crosses in the pattern.  What are you seeing that lacks them?   
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« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2013, 08:54:40 PM »

You'll find gravevines, grape clusters, wheat sheaves, etc. as common decorations on vestments and altar clothes: they are Eucharistic symbols. 

The altar is used only for the Eucharist, not for other sacraments and not for canonical hours (e.g., Vespers, Matins), so its vestments will have Eucharistic symbols. 

For the most part, priests don't vest for non-Eucharistic services like the Hours except to wear a stole for the reading of the Gospel.  They wear full vestments for all sacraments (except when hearing confessions and anointing the sick) because they are usually celebrated in the context of the Liturgy.  So priestly vestments too are basically reserved for the Eucharist, with their use in other rites being exceptional, and so the Eucharistic symbolism is appropriate.
Oh, okay. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks. So  by "for the reading of the Gospel" do you mean that one priest puts on a stole to read the Gospel and then takes it off again, or wears it for the whole service while any other priests remain unvested?
Quote
Depending on the item, you may also see a chalice and prosphora.  And there are plenty of crosses...I've never seen any set of vestments without them, whether or not the main fabric has crosses in the pattern.  What are you seeing that lacks them?   
I don't see a lack of crosses on the vestments. I was just surprised to see them outnumbered by grapevine and other vine-like designs, as with the clergy in this service. http://s3.amazonaws.com/syrianorthodoxchurch.org/page_attachments/20784/Deacons2012_133_web.jpg.
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« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2013, 09:14:49 PM »

Oh, okay. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks. So  by "for the reading of the Gospel" do you mean that one priest puts on a stole to read the Gospel and then takes it off again, or wears it for the whole service while any other priests remain unvested?

There's a canon which prohibits priests from entering the altar without the black cassock and stole and deacons from entering without alb and stole.

The canonical hours are not done at the altar but just outside it.  When a Gospel is appointed to be read, it is read from the ambo (within the altar), and so the priest reading the Gospel will don a stole just for that reading.  Other priests will not.  There's no rule that they can't put it on, I suppose they could wear it for everything like EO priests, but typically they don't. 

Quote
I don't see a lack of crosses on the vestments. I was just surprised to see them outnumbered by grapevine and other vine-like designs, as with the clergy in this service.

Vines lend themselves to "weaving" designs more than crosses, so they are a favourite for stoles.  They're not required (you could just as well have a plain colour with no embroidery, or a vestment fabric like those used in priests' vestments), but they're quite common. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2013, 09:31:24 PM »

Thanks a lot, Mor.

Shanghaiski is right; I was exaggerating when I gave the impression that all vestments had more grapevines than crosses. Upon closer examination there's a good deal more variety than that, and I should have looked more closely.
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2013, 09:38:38 PM »

I too have a question how come East Syrians make the sign of the Cross just as the Byzantines and their bishops wear the round mitre of the Byzantines, whereas the West Syrians don't ?
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2013, 09:57:57 PM »

I too have a question how come East Syrians make the sign of the Cross just as the Byzantines and their bishops wear the round mitre of the Byzantines, whereas the West Syrians don't ?

Regarding the sign of the Cross, I don't know.  Different regional Churches had different traditions regarding how to make the sign, so it's not like there's one "right" way of doing it that applies to everyone.  Though I suspect this difference is one of those, I wouldn't be surprised if, originally, all Syrians did it one way, and after the schism over the Council of Ephesus, one side "changed" so as not to be like the other.  But again, it's just conjecture. 

No clue about the "crown" style mitre, I forgot they used this.  In Coptic, Ethiopian, and Armenian traditions, deacons will (sometimes) wear this type of mitre, and Armenian priests will definitely wear it, but to my knowledge West Syrians have never had it.  Perhaps we did, and it dropped out of use, but the rest of the non-Byzantines kept it to some degree. 
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« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2013, 04:21:17 PM »

There's a canon which prohibits priests from entering the altar without the black cassock and stole and deacons from entering without alb and stole.
Just a related question: does that mean Syrian clergy don't vest in the altar? I know Armenians don't, seeming to have adopted the Western sacristy to go with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (which necessarily come before entering the altar), but I thought the other churches did.
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« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2013, 04:44:17 PM »

There's a canon which prohibits priests from entering the altar without the black cassock and stole and deacons from entering without alb and stole.
Just a related question: does that mean Syrian clergy don't vest in the altar? I know Armenians don't, seeming to have adopted the Western sacristy to go with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (which necessarily come before entering the altar), but I thought the other churches did.

I don't know about the canons, but from my observations, Priests generally have only the inner and outer cassock on before entering the altar during the Liturgy of Preparation. They then venerate the 4 corners of the altar, say some prayers, and wash their hands before taking off the outer cassock to begin vesting inside the altar itself.

Deacons and Altar Assistants on the other hand usually vest in Alb and Stole soon after they enter the Church, usually in a side room where all the vestments and utensils are kept.
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2013, 04:55:17 PM »

There's a canon which prohibits priests from entering the altar without the black cassock and stole and deacons from entering without alb and stole.
Just a related question: does that mean Syrian clergy don't vest in the altar? I know Armenians don't, seeming to have adopted the Western sacristy to go with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (which necessarily come before entering the altar), but I thought the other churches did.

Interesting question.  

Before a candidate for Holy Orders is brought into the altar for the ordination, the bishop reads an exhortation which consists of an extended confession of Orthodox faith, to which the ordinand must vow obedience (along with obedience to the bishop, the Synod, etc.), and an explanation of obligations proper to the office about to be undertaken.  The priest is exhorted never to enter the altar without at least the black cassock and stole, and not to let deacons enter without alb and stole.  Generally, we abide by this, but another interpretation is that you cannot serve liturgically within the altar without these vestments, but may enter without them for legitimate reasons (e.g., they arrive before services begin and want to set up).  

With regard to vesting for the Liturgy, however, there is a difference.  The preparation of the gifts occurs in two parts: first, the bread and wine are arranged on/in the vessels and offered with prayer, and then the commemorations are read (this is the order in which it is printed in the books).  But the vesting of the priest occurs as a part of the second half of the preparation, which means the bread and wine are prepared by the priest dressed only in black cassock:



After this, the commemorations are read:



But the rubrics allow for the possibility that the priest may fully vest first, before doing anything else: in this case, the priest is directed to turn to the section in the second half of the preparation with the vesting prayers, vest, and then turn back to the first half to prepare the gifts.  Typically, priests will vest in front of the altar (which is covered by a veil at this point), but they can also go to the sacristy (in this context, not a Western import) and vest there.  It really just depends on the priest and the available facilities.      
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« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2013, 04:58:20 PM »

There's a canon which prohibits priests from entering the altar without the black cassock and stole and deacons from entering without alb and stole.
Just a related question: does that mean Syrian clergy don't vest in the altar? I know Armenians don't, seeming to have adopted the Western sacristy to go with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar (which necessarily come before entering the altar), but I thought the other churches did.

I don't know about the canons, but from my observations, Priests generally have only the inner and outer cassock on before entering the altar during the Liturgy of Preparation. They then venerate the 4 corners of the altar, say some prayers, and wash their hands before taking off the outer cassock to begin vesting inside the altar itself.

Our priests do more or less the same: say their prayers before the icons of the templon, enter the altar, venerate the Holy Table by three prostrations and a kiss, and then put on the stole/epitrachelion or the full vestments for Liturgy. Yet the Greek custom is to leave the stole hanging near the door of the altar so as to put it on before entering (or so I imagine).

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« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2013, 05:05:05 PM »

I saw in the Assyrian churches around here stoles hanging on the small lectern in front of the solea (well, analogous to it), on which the cross sits for the people to kiss. i assume now that the stoles are there so that the priest can put one on before going into the altar.
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« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2013, 05:11:53 PM »

I saw in the Assyrian churches around here stoles hanging on the small lectern in front of the solea (well, analogous to it), on which the cross sits for the people to kiss. i assume now that the stoles are there so that the priest can put one on before going into the altar.

Most likely that is it.  Sometimes stoles will be draped or wrapped around crosses or reliquaries that are "out of reach" in order to allow people to venerate these items by contact with the stole, though I suppose this is not the case in your example. 
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2013, 05:19:50 PM »

I saw in the Assyrian churches around here stoles hanging on the small lectern in front of the solea (well, analogous to it), on which the cross sits for the people to kiss. i assume now that the stoles are there so that the priest can put one on before going into the altar.

Most likely that is it.  Sometimes stoles will be draped or wrapped around crosses or reliquaries that are "out of reach" in order to allow people to venerate these items by contact with the stole, though I suppose this is not the case in your example. 

Quote from: 1 Samuel 21
8 David said to Ahimelech, ‘Is there no spear or sword here with you? I did not bring my sword or my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.’ 9 The priest said, ‘The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you will take that, take it, for there is none here except that one.’ David said, ‘There is none like it; give it to me.’
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2013, 05:20:28 PM »

Our priests do more or less the same: say their prayers before the icons of the templon, enter the altar, venerate the Holy Table by three prostrations and a kiss, and then put on the stole/epitrachelion or the full vestments for Liturgy. Yet the Greek custom is to leave the stole hanging near the door of the altar so as to put it on before entering (or so I imagine).


I've actually heard that in the Byzantine case, priests are simply not allowed to enter the altar unless the liturgical rubrics require it. As a result, the stoles hang outside the altar so the priest can put them on to hear confessions or perform some other service that needs a stole, because he wouldn't be allowed to go in to get it.

I also notice that in that picture there is an epigonation hanging over the Holy Doors for some reason.
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2013, 05:33:31 PM »

I've actually heard that in the Byzantine case, priests are simply not allowed to enter the altar unless the liturgical rubrics require it. As a result, the stoles hang outside the altar so the priest can put them on to hear confessions or perform some other service that needs a stole, because he wouldn't be allowed to go in to get it.

Not true AFAIK - a priest can enter the altar any time. 

I also notice that in that picture there is an epigonation hanging over the Holy Doors for some reason.

That's weird. I suppose that the stoles are there for both a decorative and a practical reason. That epigonation is too high up to reach for, so it probably fills in for an ostrich egg or something.   
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« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2013, 05:37:58 PM »

...so it probably fills in for an ostrich egg or something.   

EO do that too?  I've never seen it anywhere except in Coptic churches. 
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« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2013, 05:59:16 PM »

...so it probably fills in for an ostrich egg or something.   

EO do that too?  I've never seen it anywhere except in Coptic churches. 

Yes, we do - there are even some churches (monasteries) in Romania that have them. IIRC I've seen them at Athos too.
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« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2013, 06:08:41 PM »

Er, Ostrich Egg?  Huh
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« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2013, 06:22:49 PM »

Er, Ostrich Egg?  Huh

Die Bedeutung der Straußeneier

HH Anba Damian explains its symbolism this way: just as the ostrich never lets its egg out of sight and zealously defends it, so God watches over the faithful and so the bishops and priests must supervise their flock.
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« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2013, 06:25:42 PM »

it's funny that in my home diocese so to speak, there is this charismatic/celebrity priest priest at the seminary-whom the God protected (arch)diocese doesn't quite like- and I know it from those that witnessed the incident-he was yelled at and abused with foul language by a dean and episcopal vicar for leaving his epitrachelion hanging on the altar doors. Quite a funny incident my friends say.
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« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2013, 06:33:45 PM »

it's funny that in my home diocese so to speak, there is this charismatic/celebrity priest priest at the seminary-whom the God protected (arch)diocese doesn't quite like- and I know it from those that witnessed the incident-he was yelled at and abused with foul language by a dean and episcopal vicar for leaving his epitrachelion hanging on the altar doors. Quite a funny incident my friends say.

The good Father should have presented them with ostrich eggs, to make amends.
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« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2013, 06:38:46 PM »

it's funny that in my home diocese so to speak, there is this charismatic/celebrity priest priest at the seminary-whom the God protected (arch)diocese doesn't quite like- and I know it from those that witnessed the incident-he was yelled at and abused with foul language by a dean and episcopal vicar for leaving his epitrachelion hanging on the altar doors. Quite a funny incident my friends say.

The good Father should have presented them with ostrich eggs, to make amends.
they walked on him during class. it all took place in front of the seminarians.
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« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2013, 06:47:33 PM »

Concerning the OP, in Robert Murray's Symbols of Church and Kingdom. A Study in Early Syriac Tradition (Ch. III - "The Vineyard, the Grape and the Tree of Life") I found bits of the following memra On the Pasch by Cyrillona:
 
Quote
Then he began      to compare himself
to a wheat-grain, a vine-shoot      and also a grape.
And through his love      he showed to them
the mystery dwelling      in all three of them. (...)

And now let us see why our Lord
compared himself to a vine:
I am the Vine of Truth
and my Father is the Vinedresser
.
In the vine of his body was buried
the sweetness of the Godhead;
into the vine of his body was grafted
the vineshoot and slip of our humanity.
From the vine of his body sprang for us
the drink which quenched our thirst;
from the vineshoot of his humanity
streams ran for us by his mercy. (…)

Instead of that former vine(yard)
which offered vinegar to its Lord,
A ‘Vine of Truth’ has sprung for us
from the womb of the maiden. (…)

It is the Cluster that pressed itself out
at eventide in the Upper Room,
and gave it to his disciples in the cup
which is the Testament of Truth. (…)

Robbers came right into the Vine(yard),
stole the leaves, but approached not the grapes.
The Jews, like a thief,
fell on the vine(yard) of our Saviour,
carried off his tunic and cloak,
but left the Cluster and its wine.
Foxes made havoc among the vines,
and one, only one, was withered;
the hedgehog, whose garments are thorns,
attacked that vine(yard),
took possession of one wild vine,
but the [good] grapes he did not assail.
Zion, the evil hedgehog,
took possession of Iscariot,
carried off, for thirty pieces of silver,
the sweetness that was promised her (…)

She [Zion] wished to destroy the vine(yard)
but the guards raised their voice;
the prophets were crying out openly
as the vine(yard) ripened in secret.
They had waited for thirty years;
the hungry heard and longing they came.
Adam rushed from the grave,
Eve came from Sheol;
the Church came together from the mountains
and the nations gathered from all sides.
They saw the Cluster hanging
high at the head of the Cross;
Golgotha became its vine-plant
and from it sweetness looked out.
With their lips they received its [his] blood,
and seized with their hands his truth.
The Vine is Christ who came to us,
reached out to us the Cluster in love.


Also, from St. Ephrem:

Quote from: On Virginity 31, 13
O Grape of mercy
which was found in the vineyard
which resisted cultivation
and withheld its fruit!
To it which gave him bitterness
he imparted his sweetness.
[The Grape] was pressed and gave
the Medicine of Life to the Nations.
Happy is he who has drunk
of that gentle wine
and has not played the wanton in secret!
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« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2013, 06:59:02 PM »

Another hymn On the Church by St. Ephrem:

Quote
1.     Rest firm on the Truth      and fear not, my brothers,
for our Lord is no weakling      to fail us in trial;
he is the power on which hangs      the world and its dwellers.
On him hangs the hope of his Church.
Who could ever cut off      its heavenly roots?
Blessed be he whose power came down
and was made one with his churches!

2.     Get yourselves, my brothers,      the treasure of consolation
from the word of our Lord      which he spoke on the Church:
‘The bars of Sheol      cannot conquer her.’
If then she is stronger than Sheol,
who among mortals      is able to frighten her?
Blessed be he who has magnified her, and turning
has tested her, to make her yet greater!

3.     Then stretch out your hands      towards the Branch of Truth!
Warriors’ arms it has wearied,      they could not bend it;
it bent down its summit,      came down to the contest.
It tested the true who hung on it;
who hung but for profit      dropped off and fell.
Blessed be he who made it come down,
to ascend in triumph!

4.     Elijah was drunk      with love of the True One;
Fearless, he boiled over      and rebuked the house of Ahab,
who slighted the Creator,      giving honour to creatures.
Jezebel led her court to Sheol;
Seven thousand men,      their crowns shone forth.
Blessed be he who revealed to his servant
his hidden treasure!

5.     Now many were the sons of Truth      on that branch of Truth,
and they ripened into fruit      fit for the Kingdom.
Yet though the branch is alive      there are also on it fruits
[which are] dead, only outwardly blooming.
The wind tested them      and shook off the shrivelled.
Blessed be he who has crowned
those who have stood fast in him!

6.     Who gives life to all,      his love tested Daniel
by the condition they had contrived,      the schemers, to silence
his acceptable prayer      which showed up their idols.
All unwitting, they brought shame on their images;
He put an end to their worship      that One might be worshipped by all.
Blessed be he whose True One
convicted the deceivers!

7.     It bent down and cast      its friends in the fire,
yet its leaves bore dew      and cooled the furnace.
The arms of the conqueror      were conquered, though he had decreed
to make the Most High bow to his images.
His friends who forsook him not      by him were not forsaken.
Blessed be he who in place of an image
is praised by his worshippers!

8.     Jesus, bend down to us      thy love, for us to grasp!
This is the branch which bent down      its fruit to the thankless;
they ate and were filled, but turned      and insulted it; yet it bent down
even to Adam in the midst of Sheol.
It ascended and brought him up      and with him returned to Eden.
Blessed be he who bent it down to us
for us to grasp and ascend by it!

9.     Who then would not weep?      though the branch is great,
whoever does not wish      to grasp its greatness
imagines in his weakness      it is a feeble branch
(which has conquered all kings and cast its shadow
over the whole world!)      Through his Passion his power has waxed.
Blessed be he who has magnified it more
than that vine from Egypt!

10.     Who will not persevere      on that branch of Truth
which sustains the true,      casts away the false?
Not as too heavy for its strength      did it cast them away;
for our sake it tested them in the wind
which shakes off the shrivelled      and ripens the true.
Blessed be he who rejected the vineyard
for being a source of wild grapes!

11.     Because those who are false      to that Branch of Life
in the time of its exaltation      sit in its shade,
but when it is humbled      give it no thanks,
they are like passers-by of a moment
who came by, picked the fruit,      then let go and abandoned the vines.
Blessed be he whose vinedressers
persevere in his vineyard!

12.     But since the summer      with its fruits has forced
the greedy to become      friends of the Vinedresser,
Winter can prove      concerning the false
that they love not him but their belly.
In summer they ran to him      in winter they flee from him;
Blessed be he who has made
the furnace which tests the two sides!

13.     Thus since the summer      decks out its visitors
as if they also      were workers in the vineyard,
it is winter shows them up      that they only picked and carried off.
But he who is the Vinedresser remained.
He is crucified on the wood      the same whose fruits he ate.
Come, let us hang on the wood,
which gave us the Bread of Life!

14.     Since our Lord has granted me too      to enjoy myself in the summer,
with the fruits and the shade      of that universal branch,
may I be among the labourers,      the despised, the winter-[workers],
that I may not have two seasons,
inside it in summer,      in winter away from it.
Grant, Lord, in thy grace
that we may all stand fast in thee!

15.     The kings who once gave shade      refreshed us in the heat.
We ate their fruit      but were ungrateful for their branches.
We had our heart’s delight      of good things and shade,
But our mouth became mad      and attacked our Creator.
Wars in the shade      we waged by our speculations;
[Now] he has withdrawn our shade      to let us feel the heat.
Blessed be he whose mercy      gives shade over us!
Blessed be he who has granted us
mercy without measure!
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 07:03:12 PM by Romaios » Logged
Salpy
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St. Hripsimeh pray for us!


« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2013, 08:43:34 PM »

Armenian "Tree of Life" cross:

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"I don't think I've ever eaten anything Armenian I didn't like.  I even drink my non-Armenian coffee out of a St Nersess Seminary coffee mug because it is better that way." --Mor Ephrem
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