10 April 2024


On a high and lofty peak in Kerkyra, there is a monastery ... much, I fear, restored. But it still has the encouraging dedication of ho Hypselos Pantokrator ["the lofty ... high up ... Ruler of All"].

It was, apparently, founded in the fourteenth century.

In the vaulted ceiling, to the West of the Ikonostasis, there is painting of ho tes Megales Boules Angelos; words which the bi-lingual guide-book helpfully translates into English as ... er ... "the Angel of the Grate Will" (I'm not making this up).

I think I discern here what our Roman Rite's Third Mass of Christmass ... what we term the Missa in Die ... calls, in its Introit, vocabitur nomen eius magni consilii Angelus [LXX kaleitai to onoma autou Megales Boules Angelos]. This Third Mass is the great dogmatic statement of what, on that Day, we are celebrating, with its majestic readings from Hebrews and the Gospel According to S John. 

The image on Corfu shows our Blessed Lord. He has 'angelic' wings; he is raising his right hand in [Byzantine] blessing while his left hand holds a globe; in his halo are the letters making ho on [the One who Is]; at the top is written ho tes Megales Boules Angelos

I am reminded here of the majestic words of our Canon of the Mass, where we beseech Almighty God jube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime Altare tuum,  in conspectu divinae majestatis tuae. I have long regarded this Angelus as being our Lord Himself. 

Jungmann reminds us that so did Ivo of Chartres (d 1116); Honorius Augustodunensis (early twelfth century); Alger of Liege; Sicard of Cremona (1155-1215) ..."and others" ...

These words in the heart of our authentic Western Eucharistic Prayer are one of the elements that make it, both among the ancient rites of Christendom and the horrible novel inventions of the 1960s, so distinctive. This prayer, like the reference to the Sacrifice of our Patriarch Abraham, mentioned just before, makes a mighty link with what Jungmann calls "the concept of of the continuity of the history of grace" ... which is why Abraham's sacrifice was one of the favourite subjects of ancient Christian iconography. 

I feel an interest in this parallelism between the Corfiot mural and the authentic teaching of our Canon. Perhaps somebody with more knowledge than I sadly have of the Byzantine side of this Tradition could supply information or comments?

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