On October 27, Professor Eugene Lemcio, Founder and Past Co-Chair of the Ukrainian Studies Endowment, presented "The Importance of the Deuterocanon for Deepening the Relation Between Christianity and Judaism" to a conference at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Ukraine: "Sacred Scripture in Ukrainian Culture: The Canonical & Extra-Canonical Writings and their Reception".
A video translation of the talk can be found here
He has also had the poem titled "The Lion-Lamb of Lviv" published in the journal Theology.
Eugene E. Lemcio, “The Lion-Lamb of Lviv (a fantasy in verse)”[i], Theology 119.6 (November-December, 2016): 443–445.
The city’s pride—of lions
made in any style, size, and time
for over seven hundred years
have come to dominate
each thoroughfare and boulevard.
Its shops are filled with mugs and
tourist bric-a-brac emblazoned with
that noble face and form.
The Leontopolis Hotel
had been the site of growing pains:
expansion meant upheaval
for both guests and citizens.
This situation worsened
when the trencher struck
an unforgiving block of stone
that seemed to be an animal (or two?)—
the law demanding that all digging stop
until an archeologist could estimate
both date and provenance.
The rubble cleared by practiced gentle use
of spade and brush, a builder’s crane
conscripted from another pit
began to extricate the marble objects
from their earthen womb
(a double harness, not a noose,
securing trunks and legs).
The weight of unaccustomed, awkward freight
soon took its toll on fraying cable,
squealing winch, and grinding rusted gears.
A mist of acrid fumes arose from overheating engine oil,
dispersing randomly throughout the anxious crowd
that hushed as swaying forms—
akin to those condemned to gallows’ fate—
were safely landed on the city square.
A jaded populace should hardly care
about another lion added to the mix.
But this was new:
against the muscled cat there stood
a lamb that seemed at first conjoined.
But this illusion soon gave way
to something more complex and exquisite:
his royal diadem held captive
by her crown of thorns.
So much was clear enough.
But did the calloused paw mean to caress?
Or had its claws produced
that ugly gash across the throat?
And were the stare and furrowed brow meant to intimidate;
or did they show concern for what was done?
No matter, since the victim’s eyes
returned the gaze with neither terror nor reproach.
At once the statue gave offense:
a noted critic called the thing “grotesque”.
“What Gorgon could have borne—
and loved—a nightmare brood as this?
One look at her and they were turned to stone
while nursing at the breast!”
A milder academic claimed,
“No similar design has ever graced
a banner, shield, or crest.”
Disgruntled bishops tried to blame
an ancient secret sect of priests
who had allegedly reneged on solemn vows
to church—and state.
“These renegades had made their mission clear:
defang, de-mane, dethrone
the King of Beasts, the jungle’s lord,
worse still the Tribe of Judah’s messianic sign!
Who would not rather hear the echoes of a manly roar
than suffer bleating, bleeding sounds of sacrifice?
“What should be done to exile this monstrosity?
Entomb it in a locked museum vault, a dank cathedral crypt
or let an auctioneer promote a piece of kitsch to lowest bid?
No, better still: adorn a shirt, a towel, scarf, and mug.”
Special thanks go to Dr. Dorothy Hrynovetzka Crandell, Professor Eleanor Nesbitt, Professor Rick Steele, and Ms. Erin Uber for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this poem.
[i] The following correspond to historical reality: King Danylo of Halych (13th century) founded Lviv, naming it in honor of his son (“Lev’s”), whose name is derived from the Ukrainian word for lion, itself stemming from the Greek. The city is indeed saturated with leonine statuary. Although the Leopolis Hotel exists in Old Town, the Leontopolis Hotel does not—its name originating with a royal and religious center in Hellenistic Egypt. Everything else is a figment of my imagination.