Corona at Holy Protection, Seattle
The corona hangs in the Holy Protection Orthodox Church in Seattle. It is fabricated from bronze and copper with icon prints from St Elizabeth Convent in Etna, California.
Words from the Hymn at Pentecost are etched on the bronze ring of the corona. The symbolism of fish represents the net that the Apostles as "Fishers of Men" cast to catch the World.
As a jeweler I was looking for an opportunity to make something on a larger scale. This space seemed very promising since we have a tradition of having such a chandelier in our churches. I have seen very few and those seemed to be imbued with nationalistic symbolism.
The tradition is to have twelve of the foremost apostles. Apostle means one who is sent. These men were sent to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. They spread the Gospel to the known world risked life and limb, most of them being martyred for their love of God. I wanted to use this as a starting point in my search for meaningful symbolic content.
I chose a Feast of the Church where the Apostles are a prominent part of the story. I chose Pentecost. This Feast is considered the birthday of the Church. The event happened like this. The apostles and many followers were in an upper room praying when a great wind shook the house and tongues of fire appeared and rested over each of those present. This was the gift of the Holy Spirit and the immediate result was that they each started speaking in a different language, so that all the foreigners who were in Jerusalem heard the glorious things of God in their own language. Some people thought they were drunk. The story is in the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible if you want to check out the rest of the story.
Each apostle filled with this power and love went out across the world and that is part of why we have them on the chandelier, facing out across the world in all the directions of the compass. The four evangelists who wrote the four gospels are at North, South, West and East on the corona.
The reflective dome over the head of each disciple represents the flame of the Holy Spirit the same symbolism as onion domes on Churches. The next structure around the icon is a stylized towel. This represents service to the people in the way that the Lord showed them when He washed their feet and wiped them with a towel. It also represents the vestments which the Apostles wear when they serve God in Church, lastly it is reminiscent of embroidered towels that are often used to decorate icons. The shiny arch is an architectural detail, which represents the light of God shining through the saint. This light affects everything round the saint which is why everything close to the icon is as shiny and finished as possible. This also shows our love and respect for the Saint.
The words around the corona are from the declarative verse of the Feast (Troparion): BLESSED ART THOU OH CHRIST OUR GOD. WHO HAST MADE FISHERMEN TO BE MOST WISE BY SENDING DOWN UPON THEM THY HOLY SPIRIT AND THEREBY CATCHING THE WORLD AS IN A NET OH THOU WHO LOVEST MANKIND GLORY BE TO THEE AMEN
The fishermen are made fishers of men hence all the little fishes! The fishes on the Apostles left are somewhat abstract and are attracted to the saint and into the net. The net is the Church and those little fish are happy!
The corona weighs about 70lbs and is made mostly of bronze. The frame work is architectural bronze which has been etched and drilled. The corners are the same bronze, silver soldered together at an angle of 30deg. The rest of the bronze is silicon bronze. Some of the fish are pierced and some are cast. The oil catchers are copper with a plate that is removable for cleaning. The whole thing is put together with brass bolts and nuts and zinc or copper washers. The wire for the nets is a combination of copper and brass wire twisted together and attached to a frame of brass wire with copper rings. The same twisted wire is used for the wick holder and for the oil catcher.
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