Images and Church Buildings

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church The baroque period brought a synthesis in architecture and painting - in some cases quite appealing - of western, Byzantine and folk elements. By the nineteenth century less tasteful forms came to dominate, consisting of poorer renditions of a stylized Italianate. By the early twentieth century, a style dubbed 'neo-Byzantine' emerged, which did not always succeed in blending the abstract and realist in proper proportions (a requirement of true Byzantine imagery). Sheptytsky endorsed a more authentic form of Byzantine art and architecture, but it was his successor, Slipyj, who managed to construct the magnificent cathedral of Saint Sophia in Rome in 1968. In the West, one witnesses a full array of styles, from that represented by Saint Sophia, to thoroughly modern and westernized forms. The Montreal architect Radoslav Zuk represents the latter trend.

Syro-Malabar Church Before the sixteenth century, Syro-Malabar churches had conspicuous affinities in design and decoration with Hindu temples. After 1599, they became almost indistinguishable from Portuguese Catholic structures. Contemporary religious art sometimes reflects the ethereal stylization associated with Hindu images, and newer church architecture is attempting a similar indigenization.

Maronite Catholic Church Early Maronite churches were very simple, owing to the community's poverty; they resembled larger homes, and were sometimes carved into the sides of cliffs. In the modern period they became almost identical to Italian or other western European churches, and included large numbers of statues, which some communities retain. Presently, modern architecture dominates, though an attempt has been made to adapt traditional elements such as central rounded domes. Maronites never had chancel barriers (though during the height of Latinization they had communion rails). However, older churches were sometimes covered with frescoes and mosaics. Maronites consider the illustrations found in the Rabbula Gospel to be the best expression of their classical iconographic heritage and there is a movement to promote such imagery.

Melkite Greek Catholic Church The beginning of the eighteenth century saw the growth of Syro-Arabic elements in Melkite iconography, subsequently coupled with Italianate naturalism. Today, a comprehensive return to Byzantine forms is evident. As for architecture, Ottoman restrictions on the external display of Christianity had previously prevented the construction of noteworthy churches. Today, adaptations of Byzantine styles dominate.

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