What is today? Well, in the United States it is Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the end of slavery, when word finally came to those of African descent in the state of Texas on June 19th, 1865, that they were emancipated — now free and equal with their former masters.

Of infinitely less significance is the fact — as a reader here reminded me — that as of today this blog has been in existence for ten years. Yes, I have been wasting your time and mine with all this rather useless information about icons for a whole decade now.

That means there are ten years of information on icons in the archives. More practical information on the identification of icons than you will find in any book — and it is all completely free of charge.

(Courtesy of


Papa Rimskiy — it sounds like the jovial old owner of a Russian tea room, but it is not; instead it is one of those saints that span East and West.  Here he is in a Russian icon:

We have seen a Papa Rimskiy here before — Kliment, Papa Rimskiy.  So if you have a good memory, you will recall that Papa Rimskiy is a rank and location title meaning “Pope of Rome.”  Yes, both Kliment/Clement and this fellow — Svyatuiy Alexandr” Papa Rimskiy — “Holy Alexander, Pope of Rome” are classified as — well, Popes of Rome.

Now it will be obvious to you, if you remember your history, that the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches split in 1054 over  the rather silly question of whether the Son (Jesus) proceeds from the Father only, or from the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Of course these dogmatic quibbles are never just over one thing; they are also often about power and self-importance.  But in any case, the Eastern and Western churches generally share saints declared before that date, and after it their saints are not officially shared, because each considered the other heretical from that time onward.

Concerning this particular Papa Rimskiy — Alexander — almost nothing is known for certain.  That of course never stopped the Church from inventing stories about him.  In Eastern Orthodoxy, Alexander is known as a hieromartyr — a priest-martyr, but that may be due to confusing him with another Alexander, who by tradition was martyred on May 3rd along with two others named Eventius and Theodulus.  The Orthodox believe that Alexander, Pope of Rome was martyred on that date in 119, supposedly burned alive under the authority of the Emperor Hadrian.  After the calendar revisions under Pope John 23rd in 1960, however, the Alexander traditionally martyred on that day was no longer identified as a pope in Roman Catholicism; the Eastern Orthodox Church, however, continues to consider him as such.