The Holy Trinity Church community received two hexapterygon, ripidion, or seraphic fans, which were blessed in our church this morning, January 24, 2021. The ripidas were a gift to our community by Mr. Dennis Kowaleski of Thomaston, Connecticut. At the conclusion of the blessing, Mr. Kowaleski stepped forward to receive a prayer and a blessing by host Holy Trinity pastor, V. Rev. Marc A. Vranes.
The ripidia is an ornate ceremonial fan used in Eastern Christian worship, including in the Orthodox Church. In the Byzantine Rite, the hexapteryga (ripidion) are carried during the Great Entrance and at all processions; including the movement of the Holy Gifts from the Table of Oblation to the altar during the Great Entrance.
In the Eastern Churches, the sacred hexapterygon, literally, "six-winged", have been used from the first centuries to the present day. It is generally made of metal, having the iconographic likeness of an angel with six wings, and is set on the end of a pole. Hexapteryga of carved, gilded, or painted wood are also found, as ours at Holy Trinity are. In the Russian church, it is called the ripidi, from the Greek word ripidion, again meaning fan.
“The journey to create the ripidias for Holy Trinity started by importing custom made boards from Bulgaria,” Mr. Kowaleski noted. “The boards are made from linden wood, covered with linen canvas and many layers of gesso. Father Marc and I met many months ago to select a design that we both liked.
“Once the sketch was created, it was transferred to the board and scribed into the gesso. Several layers of gold leaf were applied over a layer of red clay and burnished with an agate stone to get a brilliant shine. Then the painting began using the 'egg tempera' technique that is traditionally used for Iconography. It is a mixture of egg yolk and white wine and mixed with ground pigments to make the paint. After many hours of work they were allowed to dry for several weeks and then covered with archival varnish to protect them. I thank God for working through my hands to create these ripidias for His Glorification and the beautification of the Holy Trinity temple.”
The poles of the ripida were crafted by Holy Trinity parishioner Mr Jon Matcheson. They are made of tulip wood, a.k.a., poplar wood, with a rich mahogany stain.
“The ripidia crafted by Mr Kowaleski are quite stunning,” Father Marc said. “This was a very time-consuming project; we will always remain very appreciative of Mr. Kowaleski’s stewardship in offering these ripidas on our behalf. It will certainly enhance our liturgical worship at Holy Trinity for many years to come.”
Holy Trinity is blessed to have several pre-teens who serve in the altar weekly. We also have a very supportive and active Saint Olympia Handmaiden Ministry, so the young ladies at Holy Trinity will be just as active in processing with the ripidias as the young men are during our weekly Divine Liturgies, and on other festal occasions as well. A special thanks as well to Holy Trinity photographer Mr. Timothy Fetzko who has taken photos at all our major events for the past decade now.
Click for: Ripidia Supplemental Document
Prayer for Dennis
O Divine Lord of all that exists, You have illumined the Apostle and Evangelist Luke with Your Most Holy Spirit, thereby enabling him to represent the Most Holy Mother, the one who held You in her arms and said: The Grace of Him Who has been born of me is spread throughout the world. Enlighten and direct thy servant, Dennis, his soul, his heart, and his spirit. We humbly beg you to guide the hands of Dennis so that he may worthily and perfectly portray Your Icons, though there stand by Thee thousands of angels and host of angels, the Cherubim and the Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, who soar aloft singing Thy triumphant hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O God, through the prayers of Your Holy Mother, and of all the saints, for the glory, joy, and adornment of Your Holy Church. Amen.