Figure 1. Kerecman monument. Russian Orthodox Cemetery, Layton Rd., Lackawanna Co., PA. Photo: author.

Vichnaya pamyat reads the Kerecman monument in the tiny Russian Orthodox Cemetery on Layton Road near Clarks Summit in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. The phrase is from the Eastern Orthodox prayer wishing for the dead ‘memory eternal‘, and gets used where western churches would instead wish for the dead requiem aeternam (eternal rest).

The opportunity to include a bit of Cyrillic in Syngrammata is hard to resist, but entirely irresistible was the urge to stop and photograph the Kerecmans’ astonishing onion-dome monument. We are fortunate in Northeastern Pennsylvania to have a plethora of beautiful onion-domed churches put up by the Slavic and Byzantine Christian folks who came here in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these churches are strikingly beautiful and some you will find in quite unexpectedly rural places. With the departure of coal the population has considerably diminished in this part of the world, and these rural churches are like beautiful shells you find high up on the beach once the tide has gone out.

I suppose that in Russian Orthodox parts of the world (like Russia) it may not be uncommon for an ambitious man to effectively try to turn his family monument into an onion-domed church. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, however, it’s rare; I’ve only seen one other, and that with a small dollhouse dome, hereabouts. Too expensive? Lack of artisans to supply such a dome? Well, I couldn’t put a dome atop my post in the Kerecmans’ honor, but I could put that Cyrillic phrase!

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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  1. I’m a little confused by the relationships here:
    John 1891-1939
    Theresa 1967
    Helen 1897-1974
    John and Helen may have been married (or brother and sister?), but who is Theresa? Granddaughter of John and Helen?


    1. Yah, me too. Your solution (granddaughter) might be about right. Helen outlives them all, raises the monument when Baby Theresa dies, and her name is added to the monument posthumously (?)


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