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Old Russian Icons in Rome

2009-07-16

Daria Maltseva
Museum of the Russian State, St. Petersburg

"The “old believers” are orthodox Russians that didn’t accept the ecclesiastic reform put in place by the patriarch Nikon in the middle of the XVII century. They followed the ancient ritual and opposed the official Church".

The Russian patriarch Nikon corrected the liturgical texts and traditions because they had not been translated correctly from Byzantine Greek and had doctrinal problems.

Despite the changes, the so called “old believers” continued to venerate these images while the rest of the orthodox Russians don’t venerate figures.

Daria Maltseva
Museum of the Russian State, St. Petersburg

"The “old believers” looked for models from before the reform and they reproduced them. But they made new compositions, adding details or joining several compositions together, for example, putting the cross and the figure of some saints together, or depictions of their feasts".

These icons belong to the Belvedere collection. They’re bronze or silver pieces, some decorated with glazes that were used in chapels of churches, but could also be taken in one’s pocket, or be placed in small domestic altars. Also, because the material is resistant, som icons were put over doors or tombs.

JMB