Monday, March 30, 2009

Chelmsford Cathedral

Chelmsford Cathedral

Chelmsford, Essex

Chartres Cathedral Stained Glass

Life of Christ Window (c.1150): Triumphal Entry

Hosanna to the Son of David.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Behold your king comes to you, O Zion,
meek and lowly, sitting upon an ass.
Ride on in the cause of truth
and for the sake of justice.
Your throne is the throne of God, it endures for ever;
and the sceptre of, your kingdom is a righteous sceptre.
You have loved righteousness and hated evil:
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
Hosanna to the Son of David.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Ass in Stained Glass

From the Lincoln Cathedral

Repeat from Last Year...

The Sunday before Easter, known as Palm Sunday. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for the Jewish festival of Passover. Great crowds of people lined the streets waving palm branches to welcome Him. The people were very excited and they spread branches on the road.  Some even laid down their robes. They shouted 'Hosanna!'  Jesus rode into the city on the back of an colt ass,  a young donkey. He did this to fulfill the scriptures. The legend has been handed down that the donkey before this time was a solid color but after Christ died on the cross on Good Friday all donkey's recieved the mark of the cross on their back as a reminder of the service of that donkey to our Lord on Palm Sunday.

Matthew 21.1-11 NEB

Jesus and his disciples were nearing Jerusalem; and when they reached Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of them with these instructions: 'Go into the village opposite, where you will at once find a donkey tethered with her foal beside her; untie them, and bring them to me. If anyone speaks to you, say, "Our Master needs them"; and he will let you take them at once.' This was to fulfil the prophecy, which says, 'Tell the daughter of Zion, "Here is your king, who comes to you in gentleness, riding on an ass, riding on the foal of a beast of burden."'

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed, and brought the donkey and her foal; they laid their cloaks on them and Jesus mounted. Crowds of people carpeted the road with their cloaks, and some cut branches from the trees to spread in his path. Then the crowd that went ahead and the others that came behind raised the shout: 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the heavens!'

When he entered Jerusalem the whole city went wild with excitement. 'Who is this?' people asked, and the crowd replied, 'This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.'

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Palm Sunday by John Keble

Palm Sunday

Ye whose hearts are beating high
With the pulse of Poesy,
Heirs of more than royal race,
Fram’d by Heaven’s peculiar grace,
God’s own work to do on earth,
(If the word be not too bold,)
Giving virtue a new birth,
And a life that ne’er grows old—
Sovereign masters of all hearts!
Know ye, who hath set your parts?
He who gave you breath to sing,
By whose strength ye sweep the string,
He hath chosen you, to lead
His Hosannas here below;—
Mount, and claim your glorious meed;
Linger not with sin and woe.

But if ye should hold your peace,
Deem not that the song would cease—
Angels round his glory-throne,
Stars, His guiding hand that own,
Flowers, that grow beneath our feet,
Stones in earth’s dark womb that rest,
High and low in choir shall meet,
Ere His Name shall be unblest.

Lord, by every minstrel tongue
Be thy praise so duly sung,
That thine angels’ harps may ne’er
Fail to find fit echoing here:
We the while, of meaner birth,
Who in that divinest spell
Dare not hope to join on earth,
Give us grace to listen well.

But should thankless silence seal
Lips, that might half Heaven reveal,
Should bards in idol-hymns profane
The sacred soul-enthralling strain,
(As in this bad world below
Nobles things find vilest using,)
Then, thy power and mercy shew,
In vile things noble breath infusing;

Then waken into sound divine
The very pavement of thy shrine,
Till we, like Heaven’s star-sprinkled floor,
Faintly give back what we adore.
Childlike though the voices be,
And untunable the parts,
Thou wilt own the minstrelsy,
If it flow from childlike hearts.

John Keble
(1792 - 1866)

Palm Sunday Figures in Spain

New Cathedral, Salamanca, Spain

In Elx, Spain, the location of the largest palm grove in Europe, there is a tradition of tying and covering palm leaves to whiten them away from sunlight and then drying and braiding them in elaborate shapes. The first documented evidence concerning Diumenge de Rams, Palm Sunday, dates from 1371, when the Consell de la Vila, or Town Council, took part in the celebrations, distributing alms.

Trade in blanched palm leaves was documented in an entry in the Town Hall records from 1492 and it has continued to the present day. For centuries blanched palm leaves from Elche have been exported to the entire Catholic world.

A Spanish rhyming proverb states: Domingo de Ramos, quien no estrena algo, se le caen las manos ("On Palm Sunday, the hands drop off of those who fail to use something new"). Palm Sunday was traditionally a day to wear new clothes or shoes.

Still another German Christ Carving

A realistic German Palmesel figure

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Palm Sunday in Ireland

Irish speakers once referred to Palm Sunday as Domhnach an Iúir - Yew Sunday. That's because the "palm" was most often a sprig from the yew tree or some other conifer such as a silver fir, spruce or cypress. In County Fermanagh, early on every Palm Sunday morning, a Protestant cut down sprigs of yew and placed them on his garden wall.

In the old days, families brought their own fronds of "palm" to the church to be blessed. While he didn't have a Palm Sunday ceremony in his own church, it's on record that this very considerate Protestant soul offered palms to his less than fortunate Catholic neighbors on their way to chapel.

It was expected that every member of a family would be present at Mass to receive a blessed palm in commemoration of Christ's entry into Jerusalem. After Mass, the men and boys broke off a sprig and wore it all day in their hat or lapel. Often, it was worn for much longer.

In Spencer T. Hall's Life and Death in Ireland, he writes: "...most of the men and boys I met had small bunches of palm in their hats or buttonholes (lapels), which they said had been consecrated by the priest, and which many of them wore or renewed for a nearly a fortnight afterwards." In this context, we are assuming that the author is implying that renewal meant more blessings - perhaps on Good Friday, Easter and beyond.

As for the womenfolk and children, they brought their fronds home. A palm would be hung up in the house; one would be put out in the barn so that the animals could share in the blessing. And another would be set aside to be used as a sprinkler for Holy Water.

In many areas of Ireland, a palm stem was charred and a cross was marked on eggs set for hatching, while in parts of Galway and Mayo, a bit of palm was shredded and mixed through the seed grain. In any event, most families had extra eggs on hand because of the Lenten fast, so Palm Sunday was often the day that children called on neighbors and began collecting eggs for Easter.

The date on which Palm Sunday fell was also closely observed. If it coincided with St. Patrick's Day, when "the Shamrock and Palm would be worn together", it was said that something unusual would occur. This could be interpreted as ominous. The optimistics predicted an exceptionally fine summer or an end to Ireland's troubles. They also made the same predictions when Palm Sunday fell on the feast of the Annunciation - March 25th.

We did a bit of digging. In 1347, Palm Sunday coincided with the feast of the Annunciation. That year, the black death arrived in Messina. By New Year's Eve, it had spread to Genoa. Within three years it had wiped out one third of Europe. On a happier note, in 1945, the Annunciation and Palm Sunday coincided and the war in Europe came to an end. We found two other recent dates: St. Patrick's Day and Palm Sunday coincided in 1940: the Annunciation and Palm Sunday coincided in 1956. We'll be delving into the history books a bit further to see, in retrospect, if these old Irish predictions hold any water.

For future reference: The next time the Annunciation and Palm Sunday coincide is 2018. As for St. Patrick's Day - it won't happen again until 2391. God willing, by then, the troubles will be as ancient history as the pyramids.

Ivory Christ on Donkey

Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The gospels record the arrival of Jesus riding into the city on a donkey, while the crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the street and shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" to honor him as their long-awaited Messiah and King.

The significance of Jesus riding a donkey and having his way paved with palm branches is a fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9). In biblical times, the regional custom called for kings and nobles arriving in procession to ride on the back of a donkey. The donkey (or domesticated ass) was a symbol of peace; those who rode upon them proclaimed peaceful intentions. The laying of palm branches indicated that the king or dignitary was arriving in victory or triumph.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Palmesel In the German National Museum

This one is my favorite because Jesus looks so happy and the donkey has huge ears!

More Shrovetide Characters

Lindenwood and polychromy
Germany, Lower Franconia, ca. 1470-1480
Said to be from the church at Mellrichstadt in Bavaria (Unterfranken), north of Schweinfurt

The German word Palmesel (palm donkey) refers to the statue of Christ on a donkey, mounted on a wheeled platform, which was part of Palm Sunday processions in many German-speaking regions until the Reformation. In the Middle Ages these processions, which reenacted Christ's entry into Jerusalem mounted on an ass, were lively pageants in which hymns were sung, palms strewn, and clothes spread on the ground before the Palmesel. The figure of Christ retains, in contrast, an air of quiet majesty. The donkey's hooves and the fingers on Christ's hands are restored; the platform and wheels are modern.

The Cloisters Collection, 1955 (55.24)

The Cloisters, a branch of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the art and architecture of the European Middle Ages, is located in Fort Tryon Park near the northern tip of Manhattan island on a hill overlooking the Hudson River. The Cloisters collection contains approximately five thousand European medieval works of art, with a particular emphasis on pieces dating from the twelfth through the fifteen centuries.

Shrovetide characters and the famous Palm procession

The Hall-Wattens region of Austria is proud of its cultural heritage - in both religious and secular respects. In rural parts many customs have been protected and are still nurtured to this day.

Thaur, in particular, with its tradition of crib-carving, the "Mullerlaufen" Shrovetide characters and the famous Palm procession, has made quite a name for itself.

For more than 200 years, a traditional Christ on a Donkey procession has been staged in Thaur. This custom, which used to be performed in many places, was successfully revived in Hall a few decades ago.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, almost every village had its own palm donkey for the Palm procession, a ritual symbolising Christ's arrival in Jerusalem. Often it was a life-sized model donkey, upon which a carving of Christ was often seated. The procession with the palm donkey was once widespread not only in the southern parts of the German-speaking world, but also in some Dutch and Belgian regions.

People also used to sit on a donkey among "Christ's followers". In the first year after their election, Salzburg's archbishops would join in the palm procession to the Nonnbergkirche − not on a lowly donkey, but on a white horse.

According to a report of 1785, in the area around Salzburg and in southern Bavaria, children were allowed to ride on a live palm donkey until the Council of Cardinals banned the "Donkey Festival". Usually wooden donkeys, decoratively adorned and with a seated Christ figure, were placed on a float and pulled along in the procession.

At the start of the 19th century, a very special, and much admired, processional donkey, was kept under Salzburg's Nonnberger Gate. The wooden creature was thought to have miraculous powers as it had special device, which cast out figs and locust beans.
Most of these donkeys fell victim to the iconoclastic fervour of the Reformation. Those donkeys that survived the upheaval were finally banished during the Enlightenment at the end of the 18th century.

Heaven on Wheels???

South Germany
Last fourth of the 15th century
Polychromous lime tree
H. 1.22 m; L. 1 m; Pr. 0.44 m
Old collection W. Hoffstatter
Bought with the help
of the Association for
the Enlightening of
the National Museum of the Middle Age (ARMMA)
Cl. 23799

Christ of the Palms

Musée de Cluny, Paris
Statue on wheels of Christ and the donkey, used in Holy Week processions to depict the Triumphal Entry.

The representations of the Christ of the Palms in the round, placed on the wheeled carts, and designed to be moved when there were processions, are one of most typical and remarkable productions of the south west provinces of Germany between the end of the 12th century and the end of the 16th century, the Reformation or the Counter Reformation, having ended this type of work..

At first analysis, the work is made of seventeen pieces of wood: the board and the four wheels, the four legs of the donkey, its tail, its ears, Christ’s left hand, his two feet, and two more important pieces; one making the donkey's body and the lower part of Christ's, and the other the torso and the head. These two pieces are joined to a third one which is relatively thin. The donkey’s tail and Christ’s left hand are modern pieces fixed with internal screws. The feet were assembled with nails, but one of them has been repaired. The other pieces were assembled with plugs or mortice and tenon. The work, although it has been repainted, retains patches of the original polychromy (Christ's head, the lining of the dress, possible the carnations in the right hand, the braid, and part of the donkey's hair).

Christ is sculpted nervously and sharply, conferring to the piece a majesty that compensates for the slightly clumsy character of the donkey. The incorporation of this work of art in the collection of the National Museum of the Middle Ages illustrates one of the most remarkable forms of medieval devotion, the use of animated sculptures to represent certain parts of the Biblical story, especially around the cycle of Easter. Already known in Jerusalem in the 4th century, the Palm Sunday procession takes a new dimension in the 10th century when, as noted in the life of Ulrich , bishop of Augsburg, clerics introduced into it a new element, a sculpture representing Christ sitting on his donkey, placed on a carriage or on wheels, which was taken in procession from a church which represented the Mount of Olives, to another church representing Saint Sepulcher, the destination of the hyerosolimitan processions. Although the oldest examples, like the Steinen one in the Suisse National Museum of Zurich, were made in the 12th century, most of the those which have survived belong to the same period as the one just acquired by the museum, i.e. the 15th century and beginning of the and 16th century.

About Me

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I grew up in Chautauqua County, NY. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennyslvania in 1981 with a BFA in Jewelry and Metalworking. I have been married 31 years. I currently run a small business with my husband. We both enjoy the outdoors and animals a great deal and live on a tiny farm in Western, NY.