Liturgical Design > Project: Our Lady of Fatima Russian Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco, CA

The Anastasis
The Anastasis

Pigment and acrylic binder on gessoed canvas
82" x72" (2021)
In order to redeem Adam, the divine Savior who has assumed Adam's human nature must reach down to the same depths into which Adam has plunged. Owing to his human soul, Christ has descended into Hades, the underworld. But by reaching such abysmal degradation, Christ the Savior thus begins His triumphant victory over Sin and Death itself, blasting the crossed doors of Hell off their very hinges (symbolized by the scattered locks and hardware). This imagery is hinted at in
1 Peter 3:19, ("He went and preached unto the spirits in prison.") but largely comes from the apocryphal 4th century Gospel of Nicodemus. Also known as the Harrowing of Hell this image is one of the major themes of eastern iconography.
It represents the most important time in the entire Christian calendar: Easter, the Pascha, the "Great Sabbath". In the Eastern rite, the somber and mournful Pascha services begin at sundown on Good Friday and Holy Saturday evenings (marking the days Jesus' body was buried, and lay "resting" in the tomb). It continues and overlaps into the early hours of Easter Sunday morning, concluding with a celebration of the Resurrection and the joyful proclaiming Christs Anesti!' (Christ is Risen!) and 'Alithos Anesti!' (Truly He is Risen!). Having been raised from the dead, Christ is now seen dressed in gold, symbolizing his kingship and divine radiance. Holding a bejeweled, cruciform staff (no longer a shameful instrument of punishment but now a symbol of victory over death) Christ frees the souls that were imprisoned in captivity before His coming. The Old Adam is the first to be raised from the grave, his eyes fixed on the New Adam, Jesus Christ. To the right are King David and King Solomon, standing-in symbolically for all the righteous Old Testament men and women. Christ tramples on the now-chained Satan, who turns upward in wonder at the towering figure above him. The access to heaven has now been opened, and humanity has been freed from slavery to him who is the very incarnation of sin, darkness, and death.