Medieval NewYork | Holy Trinity Main | Byzantine Architecture | Exterior | Interior

Holy Trinity Church

The Sanctuary: Upon entering the church an observer continues to see the Byzantine style. Multiples of rigid straight lines, exact angles and geometric patterns endow the sanctuary. Intensely gleaming mosaics and multicolored marbles of diverse origins offset the rigid lines.

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The Altars and Arches:  Above the main altar is what is known as a baldachino, or a marble covering. An arch placed on top of four pillars not only supports the baldachino, but also continues with the Byzantine motif, as does the luster of the gold, green, blue, red and white mosaic of the arch.

The two side altars, however, offer a slight change in the motif. Although there is little doubt that they are of a Byzantine nature, they have been slightly altered away from the typical ornamented Byzantine form.

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The Communion Rail-- Nevertheless, the stylized Byzantine form is completely used in the church’s communion rail. The Byzantine barrel arch is contained within the rail. Unlike the pointed Gothic arch and the flat Roman arch, the Byzantine arch is semi-circle adorned with variously colored marble. This use of multi-colored marbles and mosaics are also a part of the walls near the church’s altars. Although the church, due to fiscal reasons, could not fully mimic the ancient Byzantine practice of covering the entire surface of the walls with mosaics and brilliant marble, there are two brown and white marble plaques which hint at the original Byzantine intent.

The Crucifix-- Perhaps the most prominent Byzantine mark of the Holy Trinity, with the exception of the dome, is the large bronze crucifix. The twelve-foot crucifix hangs down from an arch on the East Side of the church and defies the typical modern day representation of Christ. Between the Sixth and Eleventh Centuries, Christ was shown as attached to the cross, and not hanging forward from it. Thus, Christ was by no means shown as a suffering figure. Instead, this early Byzantine form represents Christ as a victorious and unbeaten figure. However, since the Eleventh Century, the representation of Christ on the Crucifix changed from one of triumph to one of pain and suffering. [Note also, the use of the initials "I.N.R.I" around the crucifix, which stands for  "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews",  a Latin phrase which shies away from the Byzantine theme.]  Since the Byzantines heeded to the earlier form of representation, the Holy Trinity also chose to honor it. The church’s Christ is calm and sedate as most Byzantine figures of Christ are displayed. The crucifix also complies with the Byzantine use of angular figures in detailed costumes of vivid reds and golds.

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Medieval NewYork | Holy Trinity Main | Byzantine Architecture | Exterior | Interior