Art and Faith

Friday, 9 November 2007

Egor Zaitsev. Molieben on the Borodino Field. 2000-2002

Filed under: Christian,contemporary,fine art,historical,military,religious,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

A Molieben on the Borodino Field (Egor Zaitsev, 2000-2002)

Firstly, a “molieben” (literally, “prayers” in Old Slavonic) is an intercessory service celebrated before undertaking a serious enterprise, to ask for healing, or in thanksgiving for some good result or other. It is not a liturgy. It is directed to Christ, the Most Holy Mother of God, or to one of the saints. Obviously, the molieben portrayed in the picture is directed to the Mother of God as the icon carried on the shoulders of the soldiers is dedicated to her.

The Battle of Borodino (7 September 1812) was the pivotal battle in the First Great Patriotic War of 1812-14 (one of the conflicts that made up the “Napoleonic Wars”). It was the largest single-day battle in the Napoleonic Wars, and it was the last offensive battle fought by Napoleon in Russia. Over 250,000 troops were engaged on both sides, and there were over 70,000 casualties in total. It ended in a draw, with both sides withdrawing from the field. Marshal Kutuzov, the Russian commander (you can see him kneeling before the icon of the Mother of God in the above painting), decided to withdraw to maintain his forces in being so he could strike the French at an opportune moment. The Russians destroyed all stocks of provisions and followed a “scorched earth” policy. The French occupied Moscow for a short time, but they could not hold it, as all the supplies were destroyed. Furthermore, its inhabitants put the city to the torch, so the French were forced to withdraw during the worst weather of the Russian winter. The offensive power of the French was destroyed, and the Russian forces led the coalition that defeated Napoleon and entered Paris in triumph in 1814. Tsar Aleksandr Pavlovich dictated the peace that followed the war and no major war amongst the Great Powers erupted in Europe for a century (although there were many “minor” conflicts).

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Ilya Repin. Returned from the War. 1877

Filed under: 19th century,fine art,historical,military,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

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Returned from the War (Ilya Repin, 1877)

This painting depicts wounded soldiers returning to their native village during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-79. Of course, the villagers wish to hear from direct participants the REAL news of the war. Note the respect shown to the soldiers. The villagers are hanging on their every word, no doubt, wondering about the other men from the village who went off to the war.

If you see one of our wounded soldiers who have returned from the front in Iraq or Afghanistan, do not be silent. Show them your appreciation, express your thanks for their selfless service, and do them some small token to give a real meaning to your words. It is the least that we can do for these brave fellows.

Viktor Matorin. Bobrok Volynsky, One of the Heroes of the Kulikovo Field. 2004

Bobrok Volynsky, One of the Heroes of the Kulikovo Field (Viktor Matorin, 2004)

Veteran’s Day is Sunday, so, it is appropriate for the next few days to post pictures of heroes. All these are dedicated to those in the forces, especially those serving in harm’s way. We appreciate your sacrifice, we miss you, and we pray for your safe return home to your loving families.

The Battle of Kulikovo is one of the defining moments in the development of the Russian nation. It occurred on 8 September 1380 on the banks of the Don River in present-day Tula oblast. Before marching to the field of battle, the Russian host stopped at the Holy Trinity Lavra to request a blessing of the greatest Russian elder of the time, St Sergius of Radonezh. The commander of the host, Grand Prince St Dmitri Ivanovich (later known as St Dmitri Donskoi), knelt before St Sergius, and St Sergius freely gave his blessing to the Prince and his warriors.

The Tartar-Mongol host under Khan Mamai outnumbered the Russian host. The battle was hard-fought, but it was won after a surprise flanking attack by the Russian cavalry under the inspired leadership of Prince Dmitri Bobrok of Volyn (the subject of the above painting). The Mongols were not amused at their defeat, and they killed Khan Mamai in the Crimea after the battle.

Therefore, Bobrok Volynsky is one of the fathers of the Russian nation, making him one of the pivotal figures in world history. Today, a memorial church marks the site of the battle.

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