The "Witnesses of Unity: Common Christian Saints" exhibition has opened at the Museum of the History of Religion in St. Petersburg, featuring representations of saints revered in Catholic, Orthodox, and other Christian Churches.
Both Orthodox and Catholic churches recognize numerous common saints who performed their feats primarily during the first millennium of Christian history. Their veneration is based on the shared spiritual tradition of the Church before its division. The new exhibition is dedicated to these saints - prophets and martyrs, evangelists and apostles, missionaries, and hermits, as organizers of the exhibition explained.
The exhibition showcases about 120 works of Russian and Western European art from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Icons, sculptures, engravings, and paintings portray the images of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, as well as saints revered even before the division of Christianity into Western and Eastern churches. The museum's press service highlighted that some of the items are being exhibited for the first time after complex restoration, such as a 17th-century crucifixion cross.
The division of the unified Christian Church into the Roman Catholic Church in the West, centered in Rome, and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the East, centered in Constantinople, occurred in 1054. The division remains unhealed to the present day. However, the dialogue between the Christian churches of the East and the West, despite historical conflicts, has never been completely severed, emphasized the exhibition organizers.
In 2014, the Commission for the Compilation of the Monthly Menaion of the Russian Orthodox Church created a list of ancient saints who lived in the Western regions. Following their work, in 2017, the Holy Synod included 15 names of saints from the 2nd to the 11th centuries in the general church's monthly menaion: the martyr Alban of Britain, St. Patrick, the enlightener of Ireland, St. Herman, bishop of Paris, and others. In the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, around thirty Russian saints have been officially included.