Be Brave and Let Your Heart Be Stronger

An Orthodox priest blesses rifles during a ceremony where new recruits receive their weapons at a military base of the Belarussian Interior Ministry in Minsk. The traditional ceremony was attended by 325 Belarussian recruits, and it is held a month after the recruits take their military oath. (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)
An Orthodox priest blesses rifles during a ceremony where new recruits receive their weapons at a military base of the Belarusian Interior Ministry in Minsk. The traditional ceremony was attended by 325 Belarusian recruits, and it is held a month after the recruits take their military oath. (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)

O Lord our God, God of Power and Might, powerful in strength, strong in battle, You once gave miraculous strength to Your child David granting him victory over his opponent the blasphemer Goliath. Mercifully accept our humble prayer. Send Your heavenly blessing upon these weapons. Give to them power and strength that they may protect Your holy Church, the poor and the widows, and Your holy inheritance on earth, and make them horrible and terrible to any enemy army, and grant victory to Your people for your glory, for You are our strength and protection and unto You do we send up praise and glory, to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

— A prayer from a service for the Blessing of Weapons,
Trebnik of the Serbian Orthodox Church (1993).

 

Nigg Stone Restored

In April of 2013, restoration work on the Nigg Stone, an incomplete Class II Pictish cross-slab, perhaps dating to the end of the 8th century, was completed in Edinburgh, and the stone returned to stand in a room at the west end of the parish church of Nigg, Easter Ross.

"Front" of the Nigg Stone, an incomplete Class II Pictish cross-slab, perhaps dating to the end of the 8th century, Old Nigg Church, Nigg, Easter Ross, Scotland.
“Front” of the Nigg Stone, an incomplete Class II Pictish cross-slab, perhaps dating to the end of the 8th century, Old Nigg Church, Nigg, Easter Ross, Scotland.

The cross-slab, one of the finest surviving Pictish carved stones, formerly stood in the kirkyard of Old Nigg Church (itself largely rebuilt in 1626). Blown down and shattered by a storm in 1727, it was set up against the east gable of the church. The stone was broken once more while being moved to allow access to a burial vault and subsequently re-erected upside down. Later it was moved yet again to an open-sided porch at west end of the church, from whence it was finally taken inside to a room immediately outside the vestry some years ago.

Detail of boss and serpent design on the Nigg Stone.
Detail of boss and serpent design on the Nigg Stone.

The upper and lower parts were crudely joined together using metal staples (now removed), and the shattered intervening portion — a chunk of which was discovered in a nearby burn in 1998 — was discarded. In 2011, Old Nigg Trust secured a funding package of £178,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish Government, and the European Community Highland LEADER 2007-2013 Programme to restore the monument.

Obverse of the Nigg Stone (pre-reconstruction) as depicted in Sculptured Stones of Scotland, 1856.
Obverse of the Nigg Stone (pre-reconstruction) as depicted in Sculptured Stones of Scotland, 1856.

The Nigg Stone bears an elaborately decorated cross in high relief on the ‘front’ and a figural scene on the reverse. This scene is extremely complicated and made even more difficult to interpret by deliberate defacement. Among the depictions are two Pictish symbols: an eagle above a Pictish Beast, a sheep, the oldest evidence of a European triangular harp, and hunting scenes.

Reverse of the Nigg Stone (pre-reconstruction) as depicted in Sculptured Stones of Scotland, 1856.
Reverse of the Nigg Stone (pre-reconstruction) as depicted in Sculptured Stones of Scotland, 1856.

The carvings include a unique illustration of a miracle, the first monks, SS. Paul and Anthony, receiving bread in the desert from a raven sent by God: and David, King and Psalmist, saving a sheep from a lion, his harp (modelled on a contemporary Pictish instrument) beside his shoulder. The style echoes that of the the sculptured crosses on Iona, as well as the Hiberno-Saxon/Insular style of the Book of Kells, and illustrated manuscripts of Lindisfarne in Northumbria and Durrow in Ireland.

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

THE TWENTY-FIFTH DAY OF DECEMBER

In the 5199th year of the creation of the world,

from the time when God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth;

the 2957th year after the flood;

the 2015th year from the birth of Abraham;

the 1510th year from Moses, and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the 1032nd year from the anointing of David King;

in the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the 194th Olympiad;

the 752nd year from the foundation of the City of Rome;

the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, all the earth being at peace, Jesus Christ, the Eternal God, and the Son of the Eternal Father, desirous to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, nine months after his conception was born in Bethlehem of Juda, made Man of the Virgin Mary.

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH.