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Trebnyk1 2021-05-13T21:17:35-04:00 Michael Andrec b47dc81430ec8a9df031d1883b5156df4684c670 2 3 plain 2021-05-19T18:46:16-04:00 Michael Andrec b47dc81430ec8a9df031d1883b5156df4684c670
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The woodcuts of Petro Mohyla's 1646 Trebnyk
In addition to the significance of Mohyla's Trebnyk as a codification of liturgical practice, it is also quite interesting as an example of Ukrainian Baroque art and book design.
Its overall design and the woodcuts that illustrate it clearly show a familiarity with Western European book printing and the art of the Renaissance and early Baroque.
The book begins with an elaborate title page announcing its contents with small vignettes of the Sacraments, all embedded in a dense allegorical design with scenes from the Gospels.
Several sections of the book have a woodcut heading with a large central image, along with allegorical vignettes with Biblical scenes or other related images. For the Sacrament of Chrismation, the central image is a realistic depiction of the sacrament, accompanied by theologically-appropriate vignettes related to the Descent of the Holy Spirit. It is enclosed in a Baroque acanthus leaf design with flowers, vases, and other decorative elements.
The woodcut for the Sacrament of Confession (or Repentance) is a more unified composition, while still including symbolic elements. Along with the depiction of the sacrament in the upper right, the left side has two examples of repentance from the Bible: that of King David after his conspiracy in the killing of Uriah and that of St. Peter after his denial of Christ. The lower right has a more metaphorically evocative image of a bridge.
The depiction of the Sacrament of Matrimony follows the same pattern, with vignettes of Adam and Eve and of Christ's miracle at the marriage feast in Cana (which also happens to be the Gospel reading during the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Eastern Christian tradition).
The main panel, however, clearly demonstrates the social status of the author: the bride and groom are in aristocratic dress, and the groomsmen appear to be wearing fur-trimmed cloaks.
Even the purely decorative elements in the Trebnyk, such as the tailpieces that were used to fill otherwise blank space at the end of a section, show the strong influence of Western Renaissance and Baroque styles.
Some of them spring from the book's ecclesiastical theme and are designed around stylized angels or other religious imagery.
Others, however, look like they might have come from a Western European secular book, like this one with what appears to be a mermaid and a merman among acanthus leaves surmounted by a crown.
There seems to be no particular connection to the text: this tailpiece occurs a the end of a prayer intended for times of "invasion by barbarians".
Mohyla, Catechist and Liturgical Reformer
It was in his extensive writings that Petro Mohyla perhaps had the greatest impact and created the most controversy within the greater Orthodox world beyond today's Ukraine.
His 1640 Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church was the first comprehensive Orthodox catechism to be written in any language. He wrote it in an attempt to reduce the continuing spread of Roman Catholic dogma among the Orthodox population of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and using his opponent's methods, he wrote it in the Western question-and-answer catechism form. It would go on to be republished throughout Europe in Greek, Latin, and German. It did have some questionable elements, including the introduction of a concept suspiciously like that of Purgatory (something that does not exist in Orthodox theology) and his treatment of baptism by affusion (the pouring of water on the head) as equivalent to baptism by immersion (Orthodox tradition favors the latter, and allows the former only in the case of extreme emergencies). After revisions, however, his catechism was approved by a Church Council in Iași in 1642, and by the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch in 1643. Nonetheless, this has not stopped it from being criticized as "the most Latin document ever to be adopted by an official Council of the Orthodox Church" by Bishop Kallistos (Ware), and as a "Latin pseudo-morphosis of Orthodoxy" by the Russian theologian Fr. Georges Florovsky.
Mohyla's monumental 1646 Trebnyk was a systematization and reform of liturgical practice for the lands governed by the Kyiv Metroplia. Mohyla had worked on it throughout his life as a monk and bishop and its publication was completed only two weeks before his death. Going back to original Greek sources (some of which, by that time, were located in Western Europe), he corrected many of the deviations in ritual that had crept in during the period when there was no "legal" Orthodox hierarchy in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In many ways, his Trebnyk achieved the same types of reforms that Patriarch Nikon of Moscow would undertake in his jurisdiction a decade later.
One of the more visible and persistent changes introduced by Mohyla was in the wording of the prayer of absolution during the Sacrament of Confession (or Repentance). Instead of the form still used today in the Greek Church ("May God...forgive you all things, through me a sinner, both in this world and in the world to come..."), Mohyla's text has "May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, by the grace and compassion of His love for mankind, forgive you...all your transgressions; and I, an unworthy priest, through His power given onto me, forgive you and absolve you from all your sins..." This form of the absolution prayer would go on to be adopted by the Church of Moscow, and is still used today in Ukraine, Russia, and in Russian or Ukrainian influenced churches in the United States and elsewhere in the world.