EIGHT MEN AND AN ANGEL

Today we will look at a Russian icon of nine saints.  It offers a good opportunity for practicing the reading of title inscriptions in Church Slavic.  Inscriptions on old icons are often abbreviated, and also frequently damaged by time.  That means the student of icons should become familiar enough with titles and names to be able to fill in what may be missing in the inscription as written on an icon.  But again, this is not as difficult as it sounds at first, because names and titles are very repetitive.

(Courtesy of Zoetmulder Ikonen: Russianicons.net)

Fortunately, each saint in this icon still has most of his title inscription.  Those in the top row have titles written in the upper border, and those in the bottom row have them in the halo.

Let’s examine them one by one, beginning at top left:


First, we see that he is dressed in the skhima — the robe of a monastic.

His inscription begins with the three-letter abbreviation at the top:

д
П р

You should recognize the П р (Pr) as the beginning letters of Prepodobnuiy, the common title of a monastic, usually rendered in English as “Venerable,” though it really means “Most like” — most like Christ that is, or like Adam before the Fall.  The  д above the two letters is the “d” in Prepodobnuiy.

Next comes his actual name:

АНТОНIЙ
ANTONIY

And finally comes the “locator” part of his title that tells us which Antoniy he is — that is, the place with which he is associated.  The first letter is partly missing, but from the rest we can easily restore it:

СIЙСКIЙ
SIYSKIY

If we put it all together, we see that this monastic is Prepodobnuiy Antoniy Siyskiy — Venerable Antoniy Siyskiy, or if we want to anglicize it, Venerable Anthony of Siya.  Antoniy (1479–1556) founded the Antonievo-Siyskiy Monastery on the Siya River, in what is now Arkhangelsk province in northern Russia.  You may recognize the “Siyskiy” part from the title from the name of the well-known illustrated painters’ manual, the Siya Icon Painting Manual (Сийский иконописный подлинник/Siyskiy ikonopisnuiy podlinnik)

From this point on, I will just transliterate the I in Church Slavic by the И used for it in the modern Russian font.

To his right is a fellow dressed in the garments of a bishop:

His title begins:

Ст АрХИЕ

St ARKHIE

The first abbreviation is of course the very common Svyatuiy, meaning “Holy/Saint.”  Note that the Slavic t is written very small to the right of the C (S), and the partial crossbar of it curves back and above the C, to indicate abbreviation.

It does not take effort to read this line as Svyatuiy Arkhiepiskop — “Holy Archbishop.”

The second line gives us first his name:

САВА
SAVA

Then comes his “locator”:

СЕРБСКАГО
SERBSKAGO

“OF SERBIA.”  You will recall from previous postings that the -ago ending indicates the “of” form of a word, so that is why we translate this as “Of Serbia.”  Sava of Serbia, who died in 1236, was the first archbishop of the “independent” Serbian Orthodox Church.  Such an independent regional church is referred to by the adjective autocephalous, meaning literally, “self-headed,” — that is, under its own ecclesiastical authority.  For example, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which was formerly under the authority of the “Patriarch of Russia and all Rus,” is now autocephalous — self-ruling and independent, under the title “The Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

The next fellow is also dressed as a bishop:

We see that same Ct (St) abbreviation at the beginning, for Svyatuiy — “Holy.”  That is followed by ЕПИСКОПЪ/EPISKOP”,  meaning “Bishop.”  Just think of the English word “episcopal,” which comes from the same Greek root as this Slavic form.

Next come his name:

СТЕФАН/STEFAN

That is followed by his “locator” title:

ПЕРМСКИЙ/PERMSKIY

The -skiy ending is another way of telling us that a person is from a certain place, and this fellow is from Perm, so he is Permskiy.

Assembling all the words, we get Svyatuiy Episkop Stefan Permskiy, “Holy Bishop Stefan/Stephen [of] Perm.”  Stefan of Perm (1340–1396) was the first bishop of Perm, near the Urals.

We can see that the fellow holding the scroll at far right is also dressed as a monastic:

And as we might expect, his title also begins with the letters Prd, which as you already know abbreviate Prepodobnuiy/”Venerable.”

Next comes his name:

МАКАРИЙ
MAKARIY

And at the end comes his “locator” title, partly obliterated by a scratch (this kind of thing is common in old icons) and abbreviated, but we can nonetheless read it as:

ЖЕЛТОВ[ОДСКИЙ]
ZHELTOVODSKIY

So this fellow is Venerable Makariy Zheltovodskiy, or anglicized, “Venerable Macarius of Yellow Waters” [Lake].  You may also sometimes find his title given in longer form as Преподобный Макарий Унженский Желтоводский Чудотворец/Venerable “Makariy Unzhenskiy [‘of Unzha’] Zheltovodskiy Wonderworker.”  He lived circa 1399-1444, and was the founder of monasteries on the Volga River.

Now we move to the first fellow at left in the bottom row.

The beginning of his inscription has been partly obliterated by time, but from what we have already seen, we can easily amend the first word to the Prd we already know, for Prepodobnuiy — “Venerable.”

Next comes his name, and though the beginning letters are damaged, we can easily emend it as:

ДИМИТРИЙ
DIMITRIY

After that comes his abbreviated “locator” title:

ПРИЛ[УЦСКИЙ]
PRILUTSKIY

So this fellow is Venerable Dimitriy Prilutskiy, or anglicized, Venerable Demetrius of Priluki.  He was a 14th century monastic founder in the Vologda area.

To the right of Dimitriy is this person:

His title is given as:

С[ВЯТЫЙ] ЕВФИМИЙ МИТРОПОЛИТ НОВОГОРО[ДСКИЙ]
SVYATUIY EVFIMIY MITROPOLIT NOVOGORODSKIY
“HOLY EVFIMIY/EUTHEMIUS METROPOLITAN OF NOVGOROD”

Evfimiy was a 15th century cleric noted for his reconstruction of many old churches.  He died in 1458.

The brackets indicate letters left out in the abbreviation or difficult to see because they are tiny superscripts.

Now we come to the angel.  He is easy to identify, even though some letters are gone from his title:

He is:

СВЯТЫЙ АГГЕЛЬ ХРАНИТЕЛЬ
SVYATUIY ANGEL KHRANITEL’
HOLY ANGEL GUARDIAN

In normal English, “The Holy Guardian Angel.”  Remember that the ГГ (“gg”) combination of letters in Slavic is read as “ng.”  He holds the cross and sword typical of the “Guardian Angel” type.

To his right we see this fellow:


His inscription is:

С[ВЯТЫЙ] НИКИТА ЕП[ИСКОП] НОВОГОРО[ДСКИЙ]
SVYATUIY NIKITA EPISKOP NOVOGORODSKIY
“HOLY NIKITA BISHOP OF NOVGOROD”

Nikita died in 1108, and was reputed to be a “wonderworker.”

Now we come to the last figure:

He is:

ПР[ЕПО]Д[ОБНЫЙ] САВА ВИШЕРСКАГО
PREPODOBNUIY SAVA VISHERSKAGO
“VENERABLE SAVA OF VISHERSK.”

From his inscription we can see how very important the “locator” portion of a title is in accurately identifying a saint, because as noted in this icon, there is more than one Sava — and in fact there are often multiple saints with the same name.  So we need the “locator” title to tell just which Sava this fellow is — and we see he is Sava of Vishersk, not Sava of Serbia or some other Sava (often anglicized as Sabbas).  Sava (generally spelled Савва/Savva) of Vishersk was the very ascetic founder of a monastery on the Vishera River.  He died in 1460.

Now you have had some helpful practice in reading and translating Church Slavic titles of saints in Russian icons.  If you have been reading here from the beginning, you should be able to translate the titles on a great many saints with ease.

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TWO TRINITY INSCRIPTIONS

Today we will look at a couple of Russian icons of a type you already should recognize– the “New Testament Trinity,” so called to distinguish it from the Old Testament Trinity icon in the form of the three angels that appeared to the patriarch Abraham at the Oak of Mamre.

The reason for revisiting this type is to add a couple of Church Slavic inscriptions sometimes found on New Testament Trinity icons to your repertoire.  Here is the first icon:

As you know (I hope!), it depicts the Trinity as Jesus sitting on the throne with God the Father, with the Holy Spirit hovering above in the form of a dove.  At left is Mary, at right John the Forerunner (the Baptist).  The throne is supported by Seraphim, and surrounded by a ring of cherubim, a single one of which is in the middle between the Father and Son.  Symbols of the Four Evangelists extend from the blue ring of cherubim.  The Archangel Michael is visible at upper left, and the Archangel Gabriel at upper right.

Now on to the main topic of discussion — the inscription above Jesus and God the Father.  We will enlarge it, and view it in two parts.  Here is the left side:

We are concerned with the inscription that is above the Gospod’ Vsederzhitel’ (Lord Almighty) title above the halo of Jesus.  It reads:

БЛ[А]ГОСЛОВЕННО Ц[А]Р[С]ТВО
Blagoslovenno Tsarstvo…
“Blessed-is [the] Kingdom…

And here it continues on the right side, above the Gospod’ Savaof’ (“Lord Sabaoth”) title of God the Father:

It reads ..ОЦА И С[Ы]НА И С[ВЯ]ТАГО Д[У]ХА
…Otsa i Suina i Svyatago Dukha
“…[of the] Father and [of the] Son and [of the] Holy Spirit.”

So all together, the inscription is this:

БЛ[А]ГОСЛОВЕННО Ц[А]Р[С]ТВО ОЦА И С[Ы]НА И С[ВЯ]ТАГО Д[У]ХА
BLAGOSLOVENNO TSARSTVO OTSA I SUINA I SVYATAGO DUKHA
“BLESSED IS THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

Now we will look at an inscription on another icon, heavily ornamented with baroque designs in the border:

We need to look more closely to see the inscription.  It is in the inner ring of cherubim:

It is a bit damaged, and tends to fade out in the bottom half of the circle.  But if we look at the more clear part in the upper half, we can determine what it says.

Here is the left side of it:

And here is the right side:

Because half of the inscription is so worn as to be illegible, we must work with what is there.  Remember that in the case of unfamiliar inscriptions, the procedure is to look for words you recognize.  Because this is a circular inscription, we have to find the beginning.  If we look on the right side, we see these words:

The first word is a bit faint, but after it we can clearly see:

ГОСПОД ГОСПОДЕВИ/GOSPOD’ GOSPODEVI

And if we are clever, we might decide that the next word is МОЕМУ/MOEMOU

So it would read

ГОСПОД ГОСПОДЕВИ МОЕМУ
…[the] Lord [to] Lord My…
“..The Lord to my Lord…”

Where have we heard that before?  Well, if you are at all familiar with the Psalms and the Gospel “of Matthew,” you will recognize it as the beginning of this phrase:

The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.

Now if we look at that quote in the Church Slavic Bible, we find it is right at the beginning of Psalm 109 (110 KJV):


Reche Gospod’ Gospodevi moemu: syedi odesnuiu mene, dondezhe polozhu vragi tvoya podnozhie nog” tvoikh”.
Zhezl” silui poslet” ti Gospod’ ot Siona, i gospodstvuy posredye vragov” tvoikh”.
S” toboiu nachalo v” den’ silui tvoeya, vo svyetlostekh” svyatuikh” tvoikh”: iz chreva prezhde dennitsui rodikh” tya.

The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.
The Lord shall send the rod of your strength out of Zion: and rule in the midst of your enemies.
With you is dominion in the day of your power, in the splendors of your saints: I have begotten you from the womb before the morning.”

We can see on the left side of the icon the words “ot Siona” — “out of Zion,” so that just confirms that we have found the right inscription, though in the icon it ends about there and does not include the last line of verse 3, which we have seen before:

iz chreva prezhde dennitsui rodikh” tya.
“I have begotten you from the womb before the morning.”

If you do not remember where we saw that line in a previous icon inscription, you will find it in the discussion of the last icon pictured in this posting:

https://russianicons.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/the-blessed-silence-icon-and-lots-of-noisy-talk-about-it/

It is not unusual to find this “The Lord said to my Lord” inscription on icons of the New Testament Trinity, so now you will recognize it when you see it.

 

READING THE SAINTS

If you have been keeping up with my previous postings on reading Church Slavic icon inscriptions, you are likely now the icon expert in your town — perhaps even your county or an even larger region.  So you should have little trouble reading today’s icon, which shows an assembly of various saints.

Such mixtures of saints were generally chosen by the purchaser of the icon, who often included not only family “name saints” but also the chief saints to whom the members of the family prayed for help with this or that problem.

Today’s icon is a good example for reading practice, not only because it shows different kinds of saints, but also because some of the inscriptions are a little worn or damaged here and there, so the reader has to fill in the missing parts:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)
(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

Notice the variation in how the saints are labeled on this icon.  Some have their titles in the icon border, while others have it in or above the halo:

Let’s begin with the angel at the upper left side.  His inscription (partly worn) reads:

Ст Аггель Хранитель
St  Angel’  Khranitel’
In full,
Svyatuiy Angel’ Khranitel’
“Holy Angel Guardian”
Or as we say in English,
“The Holy Guardian Angel.”

Did you remember that the letter combination гг (gg) in Church Slavic is pronounced like “ng”?

You will recall that the Guardian Angel in icons is a generic figure representing the Angel believed to watch over each person.

The saint at left in the nun’s habit is:
Ст Прпдб мчнца Евдокиа
In full:
Святая Преподобная Евдокия
Svyataya Prepodobnaya Evdokiya
“Holy Venerable Evdokia”

I hope you recall that Prepodobnaya does not literally mean “Venerable”; that is just the English term commonly used, because literally Prepodobnaya means “Most-like,” that is, most like Christ, or some say most like humans before the “Fall.”
When you see the combination “ev” in a saint’s name, it often represents the Greek form “eu,” and “k” often becomes “c” in the English form of the name.  So if we were to put Evdokiya’s name into English form, it would be “Eudocia.”

Beside Evdokiya is:

Ст М Иоустиния
Святая Мученица Иоустиния
Svyataya Muchenits Ioustiniya
Holy Martyr Iustinia/Justinia

Iustinia is in the standard garb for a female.

To her right is:

Cт Сщнмчн Киприанъ
Святый Священомученикъ Киприан
Svyatuiy Svyashchenomuchenik Kiprian
Holy Priest-martyr Kiprian/Cyprian

Cyprian’s specialty is protection from demons, sorcery, and witchcraft.

 

Ст Мчнкъ Трифонъ
Святый Мученикъ Трифонъ
Svyatuiy Muchenik Trifon
Holy Martyr Trifon/Triphon

Note the cross in Triphon’s hand.  A white cross is generally held by martyr saints in icons.  You may recall that Triphon is the saint associated with a falcon and with geese, and is prayed to for problems with geese and rodents, etc.

Ст В М Артемий
Святый Великомученикъ Артемий
Svyatuiy Velikomuchenik Artemiy
Holy Great-martyr Artemiy/Artemios

Artemiy is dressed in Roman armor and holds a martyr’s cross and a lance.  His specialty is intestinal problems.

Ст Василий Велики
Святый Василий Великий
Svyatuiy Vasiliy Velikiy
Holy Basil [the] Great

Basil is dressed in bishop’s robes, with an omophorion around his neck, and the Gospels held in is left hand.  Basil’s specialty is aid with studies.

In the photo below, we see Jesus at the top in the clouds, with his usual abbreviation IC XC, Iesous Khristos in Greek — “Jesus Christ”:

Now the saints on the right side of the icon:

The female at top:

Ст Мчнца Агафия
Святая Мученица Агафия
Svyataya Muchenitsa Agafiya
Holy Martyr Agafiya/Agaphia

Agafiya is dressed in the standard garments for a female.

Ст Сщнмчн Зиновий
Святый Священомученикъ Зиновий
Svyatuiy Svyashchenomuchenik Zinoviy
Holy Priest-martyr Zinoviy/Zenobios

Ст В М Варвара
Святауа Великомученица Варвара
Svyataya Velikomuchnitsa Varvara
Holy Great-martyr Barbara

Barbara is dressed as royalty, wearing a crown, and holding a martyr’s cross.  Her speciality is aid in avoiding sudden death.

Прпдбна Мария Егип
Преподобная Мария Египетская
Prepodobnana Mariya Egipetskaya
Venerable Mary of Egypt

You will recall that Mary was a desert-dwelling ascetic, usually shown near-naked.  Her specialty is chastity and help in finding lost things.

The last two saints on this icon are:

Ст В М Димитрий Солу
Святый Димитрий Солунский
Svyatuiy Dimitriy Solunskiy
Holy Dimitriy/Demitrios of Salonika/Thessaloniki

Dimitriy/Dmitriy is one of the most prominent warrior saints.  His specialty is chastity, and he is a popular protector of the young.

Прпд Ануфрий Великий
Преподобный Ануфрий Великий
Prepodobnuiy Anufriy Velikiy
Venerable Anofriy/Onufriy/Onuphrios

As is obvious, Onufriy was another of the desert-dwelling ascetics.  He wears “leaf shorts,” a covering made of leaves.  His name is usually written with an “O,” but here the writer has used an “A” because it has the same pronunciation as an unstressed “O” in Russia.  One often finds this o/a confusion in Russian icon inscriptions.

This is not a very interesting page for the more advanced in reading icons, but for those still learning to read the letters of Church Slavic and basic inscriptions, it should be helpful.  And it should remind you how very repetitive these inscriptions are, so as I always say, a little learning goes a long way, enabling you to read many more icons than one would expect from the small amount of effort necessary to learn such basics.

For those who want to see closer views of the saints full-figure, here is the icon in three segments:

Left:

Center:

Right:

DECIPHERING “DIFFICULT” CHURCH SLAVIC INSCRIPTIONS

Unless you are very interested in learning to read Church Slavic icon inscriptions (the kind of inscriptions found on most old Russian icons) you will probably want to overlook today’s posting.  You will likely be bored to tears.  And if you do find you have enough curiosity to read on, perhaps even all the way through, well, as psychologists say, recognizing your problem is the first step to overcoming it.  I am blameless.

Here is a Russian icon of the physician saint Panteleimon:

(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)
(Courtesy of Jacksonsauction.com)

I have already discussed Panteleimon in a previous posting.   So my reason for showing this particular example is  not the saint himself, but rather the long border inscription.  It is useful in learning how to approach an unfamiliar Church Slavic inscription.  This inscription is not easy for beginners, but that is the point;  its difficulty enables me to tell you how to approach such a puzzle.

First you will want to know that most full-border icon inscriptions begin at upper left, then are read to the right, down the right side, and across the bottom from left to right (unless the bottom inscription is upside-down), and finally the left side is read from bottom to top. There are variations on this scheme, but even then the inscription usually begins at upper left.

Knowing that, we can put the whole border inscription together as it would commonly be read:

Ptinscr_1

Ptinscr_2

Ptinscr_3

Ptinscr_4

In attempting to translate this, we face the common difficulties found in Church Slavic inscriptions.  First, there are the individual peculiarities of calligraphic style.  Second, as is usual, all the words in the inscription run together, with no space between them to tell us where one word ends and another begins.

The key to solving such little mysteries is this:

1.  First, start at the beginning and look over the whole inscription from that point

2.  Look for any familiar words anywhere in the inscription.

If we follow that advice, we will begin at the upper left hand corner:

pantinscbordbegin

I hope by now you have learned to read the Church Slavic alphabet.  If you have not, you will find yourself of little use in reading icons.  So we begin by transliterating the first part of the inscription.  I will put it into modern Cyrillic letters:

РЕЧЕГДЬСВоИМЪУЧЕИКОМ

Now into the Roman alphabet:

RECHEGD’SVoIM”UCHEIKOM

The first letter of the first word, P (“R” in  English) is in red.  If we transliterate the first four letters, we get

RECHE

That is a very useful word to know.  it means “spoke,” as in “he spoke.”  It should be part of your basic inscription vocabulary.

Next comes a word you already know, though you may not know that you know it at first, because it is abbreviated.  It is, transliterated:

GD’

That abbreviates GOSPOD’, meaning  “Lord” or “The Lord” (remember that Church Slavic has no separate word for “the”).

So now we have two words:

RECHE GOSPOD’

Church Slavic word order is not the same as English.  Here the verb RECHE (“spoke”) comes before the person doing the speaking, GOSPOD’.  So the meaning of RECHE GOSPOD’ is “The Lord Spoke.”

The word following GOSPOD’ is missing one letter, which I will add.  The word is

UCHENIKOM

An uchenik is a disciple.  UCHENIKOM not only tells us that there is more than one disciple by its ending, but it also tells us that it is the object of the verb “spoke.”  It means
“to disciples.”

The next word is SVOIM:  that means “his.”  So in the word order of Church Slavic, we now have:

RECHE GOSPOD’ UCHENIKOM SVOIM
SPOKE [the] LORD [to] DISCIPLES HIS

We would say in English, “The Lord spoke to his disciples.”

The next word is also an abbreviation:

Ptinscr_5

In modern Cyrillic it is

ГЛЯ

The last letter in the original that looks like “I” followed by “a” is actually a single sound, “YA.”  So we can transliterate the abbreviated word as

GLYA

But we must know what it abbreviates.  It is the word

ГЛАГОЛЯ (GLAGOLYA).

It means “saying.”

So now we know what the first five words of the inscription are:

RECHE GOSPOD’ UCHENIKOM SVOIM” GLAGOLYA

“THE LORD SPOKE TO HIS DISCIPLES, SAYING….”

Now that may not seem like much, given the length of the border inscription, but it is of tremendous help in determining what the rest of the unfamiliar inscription says.  Because it begins with “The Lord spoke to his disciples, saying…” we know it must be something Jesus said.  And of course what Jesus said is found in the New Testament, so we know that the inscription as a whole is likely to be found somewhere in the New Testament.

This is where knowledge of the Bible comes in handy.  There are many places in the New Testament where Jesus speaks to his disciples, saying something.  But what is that something here?  To find out, we return to step two of the translation key, which is to look for any familiar words anywhere in the inscription.

You might, for example, recognize this word in the right border:

It is ВЛАСТЬ, transliterated as VLAST’.  It means “power.”  So we know that “The Lord” (meaning Jesus) spoke to his disciples, and what he said had something to do with “power.”

The next step is simply to look up everywhere Jesus said something to his disciples about power.  And if we look it up first in an English Bible, that will give us the book, chapter and verse.  We can then use that to go to the same book, chapter and verse in the Church Slavic New Testament (these are available from the United Bible Societies and elsewhere).

Going through those two steps, we find this first in English:

Matthew 28:18-20 (King James Version)

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

So now we have a chapter and verse to look up in the Church Slavic version.  The beginning is not literally the same as in our five-word icon inscription beginning, but it has much the same meaning, Jesus speaking to his disciples.   Going to the Slavic Matthew (Matfei), we find:

И ПРИСТУПЛЬ ИИСУСЪ РЕЧЕ ИМЪ ГЛАГОЛЯ

ДАДЕСЯ МИ ВСЯКА ВЛАСТЬ НА НЕБЕСИ И НА ЗЕМЛИ

ШЕДШЕ БО НАУЧИТЕ ВСЯ ЯЗЫКИ КРЕСТЯЩЕ ИХЪ ВО ИМЯ ОЦА И СЫНА И СВЯТАГО ДУХА

УЧАЩЕ ИХЪ БЛЮСТИ ВСЯ ЕЛИКА ЗАПОВЕДАХЪ ВАМЪ

Now we just compare that, word by word, with the icon border inscription.  The result is that we find this is in fact what the inscription is saying, though the icon version begins with “AND THE LORD SPOKE TO HIS DISCIPLES, SAYING…” instead of  “AND COMING NEAR, JESUS SPOKE TO THEM, SAYING….”  Nonetheless, what Jesus said to his disciples is there and the same in both in the icon inscription and in the Church Slavic New Testament account in Matthew 28-20.  If we are careful, we can even see that the icon inscription ends at the top of the left-hand border with the broken-off word

ЗАПОВЕД [-АХЪ]
ZAPOVED [-AKH”]

meaning “[I] commanded.”

So the mystery is solved.  The whole icon border inscription can now be recognized and translated, and it says:

JESUS SPOKE TO HIS DISCIPLES, SAYING, ALL POWER IS GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH; GO THEREFORE AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY GHOST, TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED….

This process may seem rather tedious, and it often is, but hey, who said that anything beyond the most common inscriptions would be easy?  No one asked you to become interested in icons, did they?

Perhaps you would like to take up Chinese vegetarian cooking instead.

 

David