Working Title/Artist: Stefano Veneziano: Madonna Enthroned (Correr) Department: Islamic Art Culture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: photography supplied by Islamic department – Filename – 018.tif film and media (jnc) 2_26_07
Stefano Veneziano: Madonna Enthroned (Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY)
(Stefano Veneziano, Wikipedia.)
Christmas in Aleppo
Aleppo was one of the jewels of the Middle East and it is now rubble. However, although it seems impossible, the few Christians left in Aleppo celebrated Christmas in a bombed church. We cannot resurrect those who have perished, but these courageous Syrians gave life to ruins. They celebrated the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
Human institutions are abominably fallible, but would that people remembered that Jesus of Nazareth taught unconditional love. Theologians I have spoken with assure me that love unconditional was Jesus’ only teaching. Yet, an ignorant and cruel world crucified him as it crucified young Armenian women and destroyed Aleppo. However, Aleppo will rise again, like the phœnix.
Although many Christians born in Asia Minor have been killed, some fled their native land several years ago. There is, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, a Syriac Orthodox Church. It is named St. Ephrem’s Syriac Orthodox Church, but it is changing its name to St. Ephrem’s Syrian Church. You may remember that Céline Dion‘s deceased husband, René Angélil, was born to a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother, and raised in Montreal. Members of his family attended the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Céline married René at Notre-Dame Basilica, in Montreal, but there was a second wedding ceremony. (See René Angélil, Wikipedia.)
When I prepared my posts on the Armenian genocide and my Christmas post, I realized that there had been many Christians in the Near East and Middle East. Saint Nicholas was the bishop of Myra, in Anatolia. He saved people who were about to be beheaded. (See Saint Nicholas, Wikipedia.) We have long beheaded people and the practice has intensified in the Middle East. Before the rise of Islamism, beginning in c. 1980, women in the Middle East were not wrapped in clothes and hidden behind a veil. It seems we are returning to the past. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is not a descendant of the last Sultan, Mehmed VI, as though he were. Strange things are happening everywhere, especially in the United States.
Christmas Eve was not as fine as Christmas Day. I remembered my home and work in Antigonish. Why did a woman, a case manager at an Insurance Company, let me sell my house, knowing I would have to return? She had me see an Independent Medical Examiner who asked her to tell me not to sell my house or make serious decisions. I was very sick, but he was convinced I would be able to re-enter the classroom. But my doctor’s note was not taken seriously so I was not replaced. After a very short rest, I returned to work so my students would have a teacher. She thought I was an imaginary invalid. Not relaying her IME’s message was malice on her part, unadulterated malice.
I suffer from ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), better known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which it isn’t. It hasn’t taken away my intelligence nor has it dimmed all the knowledge I acquired. But, once I had sold my house, my university did not want me to re-enter the classroom. A friend warned me that returning was dangerous, but it may have been less dangerous than not returning.
The episode that began in 2002 was triggered by exertion. I had to prepare two new courses, including Animals in Literature, during a sabbatical (2000-2001) I was devoting to writing my book on Molière. It was my worst ever episode of ME. I fell ill in February 2002.
Alexandria by the Bellini brothers
San Marco, Venice
Back to Aleppo
At any rate, Christians at Aleppo celebrated Christmas in a bombed church. They are courageous individuals. The siege of Aleppo was a calamity. One wonders what happened to unconditional love?
That conflict must end. But I have difficulty making sense of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin‘s involvement. They seem to be both friends and foes.
We will be celebrating the New Year as we celebrated Christmas. The same friends will join me. It will be the beginning of a new and, hopefully, better year. There is a fine Pâtisserie liégeoise nearby. I will purchase a cake. I am thankful for these small pleasures.
Love to every one ♥
Saint Nicholas, Russian icon from first quarter of the 18th century (Kizhi monastery, Karelia).
© Micheline Walker
28 December 2016