Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dallas Churches, Orthodox Edition

I have decided to branch beyond the Catholic offerings in our special on Dallas area churches. Today we are featuring Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in northern Dallas, which is diagonally across the street from Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church. I intended to feature the stereotypically megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church at some point, but time might make that impossible.

Holy Trinity is by far the most impressive structure I have encountered in the area. The mosaics outside are in the style of Byzantine iconography, yet the Spanish Roman Catholic style of the exterior give us hints as to what first millennium Roman artwork may have looked like.

The iconostasis is stone and white, which creates something
of a washed effect that I do not particularly like. However
the apse is colorful, imposing, and quite impressive.

The tetrapod is being used for an impending wedding, hence
the "common cup" of wine which the new weds drink
after their nuptial to symbolize their union.

The place is not without its quirks. The cantors do a fine job,
I am told by a former parishioner, but the polyphonic choir
requires a pianist to stay on key.

Christ, ruler of the world, looks down upon His people
holding the book in which all is written and surrounded
by the heavenly hosts singing the Thrice Holy Hymn.

The south transept depicts the Resurrection.

The north transept depicts the Crucifixion.

And the choir loft.

The nave is quite luminous and the white walls and sun
bring out the color in the icons very well.

Constantine and Helen. Personally, I have always found the
canonization of Emperor Constantine more than a little troubling.

The Holy Place of the chapel where Vespers and weekday liturgies are held.
We stayed for Great Vespers, which included the funeral service
for a deceased parishioner. Usually the service is 90% English
with a few lines of Greek. Saturday was more 50-50. The tones
were very similar, in English and Greek, to the Melkite tones I know.

Another strange quirk is this icon in the chapel.
Byzantine iconography does not depict God the Father, 
and I am not sure Roman art did prior to the Renaissance.
The iconographer wrote the icons in the chapel
un-monitored and gave us this picture of Zeus.

It was Vespers for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils.
The stichera, hymns sung between the psalm verses, can be quite explicit and didactic at times,
far from the poetic style of the Roman Office. I especially like "Nestor[ius] the ugly."
Also, note that Pope Honorius is listed among the notorious
heretics of the first millennium.


  1. Roman iconography did show the Father prior to renaissance.

    Eastern iconography also most certainly show the Father.
    and not to mention famous Rublev's icon.

    also, shouldn't the Holy Table be completely covered?

    and why did you stay for the service?

    1. I meant depictions of God the Father as an entire human person. There are a few scattered examples from the East, particularly one on Mt Athos, but the general Byzantine tradition has decided against it, much like Communion in the hand which was done in many places in the first millennium, but time decided against it. The icon in your link is a Russian depiction that most Greeks I find quite disdain! Rublev's icon is not a direct physical depiction based on Western art though, it finesses via typology. Either way, this thing is quite a curiosity given that it is a Greek and not a Slavic Church. Perhaps the iconographer was a Slav?

      The standing convention seems to be to depict the Father as a blue or white cloud of energy (see icons of the Ascension, Nativity, and Theophany.

  2. I have heard Fr. Hopko explain that while some depictions of God the Father qua Father are in existence (and theologically wrong), others are actually meant to portray the Ancient of Days from Daniel 7, which depicts the Father with certain visible characteristics.

  3. I must say I have never seen a piano in a Greek church before neither have I ever seen a Holy Table that was not vested on all four sides.

    The wall paintings are attractive but rather bright. I suppose one is used to seeing older images with the patina of age. I would almost be inclined to give these a coating of a very weak lime wash. Nonetheless a very pleasing church. In London one of the Greek cathedrals in Kentish Town is well worth seeing. It was an uninspiring Victorian Gothic revival building until the Greeks took possession. Some Cypriot iconographers have done wonders with it and, although a lot smaller than the building featured in this post, it is quite breathtaking inside.

    The list of names in the condemnation of Honorius is interesting as it differs from the list found in early sixteenth century, and earlier, breviaries. Those have Cyrus, Sergius, Honorius, Pyrrus, Paul, Peter. Macarios, his disciple Stephen, Polychronos & Simon.

  4. I've been Greek Orthodox 36 years and I've never seen an altar that WAS covered.