Monday, July 13, 2009

First their were Byzantines then there just was...

the following was copied from cradle orthodox blog
Byzantines beat the Vikings to America by 500 YEARS!
Connecticut’s 5th Century Church by John GallagerExcerpts (Full story here)In the stillness of Cockaponset State Forest, southern Connecticut, near the town of Guilford, masterfully carved from solid rock, stands North America’s oldest Christian church. Recent epigraphic evidence found here suggests that it is 1500 years old, and linked to a voyage of Christian Byzantine monks who fled from North Africa during the 5th Century, in the wake of the Vandal invasions.Greek and North African inscriptions, Greek cupule patterns in the form of Chrismons (monograms of Christ), baptismal fonts, a cathedra or throne, candelabras and an altar have been found at the site.To understand the origins and reasons behind this 1600 year-old undertaking, something about the history of the Early Christian Church during this period is needed. By 430 AD, more than 600 bishops operated across North Africa, mostly in Tunisia, where Christianity sank its roots in the Dark Continent at the ancient Phoenician port-city of Carthage. From the beginning, the new faith was a tale of violence and heresy. Under Emperors Decius (249 to 250), Valerian (257 to 259) and Diocletian (245 to 313), many Christians everywhere were arrested, tried and executed on charges of theological or political subver-sion, because they characterized the deities of all other faiths as “devils” and called for the downfall of the Roman state.The author wrote of destruction by fire, looting, and the eventual escape of the monastic community “toward the setting sun,” to Asq-Shamal, or the Northern Land, in several ships. “Across the void of waves,” guided by a “cross-staff by which to sight positions of the sun and presumably the stars, and using calculations known only to their “helmsman,” they crossed the Mid-Atlantic Ocean.After months at sea, they made landfall in an unknown country, then “ventured into the wilderness.”Incised into the flame-shaped baptismal font are nine holes for candles. Eight holes, when containing lighted candles at Easter, could have represented the eighth day after the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the beginning of the New Era, also signifying a second (spiritual) birth for baptized Christians.The flame shape represents the Holy Spirit received at Baptism. The ninth hole in the middle of the font stands for the Paschal candle, symbolic of Christ. Here the elderly were baptized by effusion, or the pouring of water over their heads.

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