A Visit to an Orthodox Church

732 Words3 Pages
Visit to an Orthodox church In contrast to the tall spires one might expect when encountering a Roman Catholic Church, the Saint Mary Orthodox Church in East Brunswick, NJ is a relatively small, unprepossessing structure. It does not resemble a conventional Roman church or steeple; nor does it resemble the elaborate domed Orthodox Churches of kind I have seen in photographs of Russia. It is a square brick building with two relatively nondescript pillars flanking the front. What is noteworthy is the elaborate mosaic of Mary that adorns the front of the building. I have long heard that icons and images are a very important part of the aesthetics of Orthodox worship and this was confirmed by the sight of the building. The inside of St. Mary's is filled with icons of the Virgin, pictures of the life of Christ, and other saints. The images of the icons have large, eerily lifelike eyes and they convey a sense of 'specialness,' that the church is a 'sacred space' even though the architecture is not tall and lofty. St. Mary's is a Coptic church, a branch of the Orthodox faith that originated in Alexandra and is based in Egypt today. I learned this from perusing some of the literature in the church distributed for people to read, as well as later reading the website. There were two striking aspects of the service that stood out in my mind. The first was the amount of standing. I had heard that traditionally Orthodox services do not permit sitting at all. Only some of the
Open Document