"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Thursday 14 October 2010

[Irenikon] The Oldest Marian Icon in Rome, and one of the Oldest in the World

I've been talking to Mary about one of the great icons on earth.  Maria Advocata is the oldest Marian icon in Rome, and if not the oldest on earth, certainly one of the oldest.  And unlike any other of the very few provably pre-Iconoclasm icons in existence, she's beautiful and in pretty good condition.  If you go to Rome for no other reason, go to Monte Mario to visit her, and you will understand why we love the Mother of God!  I'll work with Mary on getting the picture up.
I had my attention called to Maria Advocata by my friend and colleague, Michael Hesemann, a German who writes extensively on the topic of relics.  I'm translating several of his items right now.  He's most noted for his critical powers of observation, and works extensively with the Vatican's relics and authentication and documentation of the Passion of Our Lord.  It was through Michael that I was personally blessed to receive an actual relic of the Shroud of Turin, as well as the only first class relic of the Mother of God, her hair. He's likewise provided me -- and a number of Orthodox and Catholic Parishes throughout the world, with access to well-documented (meaning real!) relics of the True Cross of our Lord and other significant focal points for our prayers.  When Michael calls my attention to something, I listen, because he always makes sense.  As an introduction to his research skills in the cause of the Faith, I'll some up an example of his research: The House of the Mother of God in Loreto. 
One has to be pretty gullible, so I thought, and so thought many millions of Christians world-wide, to believe that nonsense of a band of angels transporting the House from the Holy Land to the insignificant one-horse town of Loretto.  I went there years ago, and yawned a big "Huh!"
Or does one?  Since that time, science in service of the Faith has determined that the rocks could be from the Holy Land, the construction style could be from the Holy Land, and how else do you explain how this pile of rocks got there.  But Vova, being the cynic that he is, continued to have doubts.  Science and research continued and continues.  The analysis now shows that the traditional portal in Nazareth (now a souvenir store and a cafe) matches not only the specific rock, but the mortar as well.  Restoration in Loretto shows that the stones were numbered.  It took time in the Vatican archives to clear up a great mystery: a letter was found with a shipping consignment.  The Greek Angeloi family, local gentry/royalty in Palermo, Calabria and Sicily as well as Greece, belonged to those many Greeks and Latins who believed in the idea of one Church.  Much as many Orthodox do not know that Sofia Palaeologos, the Byzantine Princess who married a Russian tsar in support of his efforts and intentions to win legitimacy for the new Russian state as well as an autocephalic Russian Church, was the god daughter of a Pope -- AFTER the schism, and after the Fall of Constantinople.  Similarly the Greek noble 'Angeloi' family (Petros Angelos) provided the governors for a series of southern Italian regions.  They held in fealty a little, god-forsaken fleck in a one-horse town called Loretto.   The House of the Virgin was taken in safe-keeping at a time that Muslim forces were threatening numbers of Christian institutions, and was presented to a minor noble as: a wedding present.  For hundreds of years, Angeloi has been read as angels.  It's a correct translation, but it's not an accurate one. 
Hesemann is conducting similar studies of the Shroud of Turin, which he credibly argues is not only the Burial Shroud of Our Lord, but one and the same as the Orthodox Image not made by Hands.  I'll present more as I prepare it.
back to Our Lady, Maria Advocata:
She's in Rome, but probably hails from Syria, between 200 AD and 400 AD.  Encaustic (wax painted on wood) Absolutely the oldest known icon, and look how developed!  Forget all the Saint Luke nonsense, because it's doubtful that the Good Physician ever painted anything we still have today, regardless of Church tradition.  Michael Hesemann sent me this picture from his most recent trip to Rome.
The Marian image Maria Advocata, formerly known as the Madonna di San Sisto, is an antique icon of Mary, the Mother of God.  It is located in the Dominican Convent of Santa Maria del Rosario on Monte Mario in Rome.  She is considered to be the oldest Marian icon in Rome and one of the oldest in the world.
The icon was painted in encaustic on a wooden panel.  It probably predates the 6th century, and was created in Syria or Palestine.  According to an older tradition, it was ostensibly brought to Rome by a pilgrim before the first Iconoclastic period from Jerusalem or Constantinople.  The icon was first venerated in Rome in the Monasterium Tempuli in Trastevere.  By the year 1100, she was already considered the oldest Marian icon in Rome.  It was at that time that she was first attributed to the hand of Saint Luke.  In 1221, Saint Dominic personally translated the icon, in his own hands and barefoot, to the convent founded by him in Rome, San Sisto near the Baths of Caracalla.  After the convent had been relocated twice, the Maria Advocata has been venerated on Monte Mario.  Since the Dominican Sisters live a cloistered existence, the icon was largely forgotten.  Pope John Paul II sought out the icon for private prayer on 16 November 1986, as did Pope Benedict XVI on 24 June 2010.   
The substrate wood shows considerable deterioration, but the image, painted on a goldleaf background, and particularly the face, the gold nimbus, and a hand, are still highly visible. At some later time, the pleading hands were sheathed with gold foil coverings, and a golden cross was affixed to the shoulder.  During the restoration of 1960, these gold appliques were removed but are on display, immediately in front of the icon.
Copies of the Maria Advocata are also located at Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill and in the Capella Paolina in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
In a message dated 10/14/2010 2:01:42 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, mel5@lazerlink.com writes:
This is haunting...her eyes...where does it come from?  I don't know this one.

On Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 12:49 AM, <Antiquariu@aol.com> wrote:


Tenebrae eum non comprehenderunt. ~John 1:5


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