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“Aaron”, Bristol: biblical bigwig

“Aaron Hi-Tech” burglar alarm, Bristol • Although not much feted in western Christianity, Aaron – Moses’ elder brother and the first high priest of the Israelites – is a big player in Judaism and Islam, and a major saint across the lands of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He’s a popular subject in gorgeous Russian icons, but in western art is rarely depicted, with the lone pinnacle being Pier Francesco Mola’s recently discovered “Aaron, Holy to the Lord” (below), painted around 1650. The magnificent old master shows a severe-faced Aaron carrying out his sacred duties on Yom Kippur, aided by nothing more hi-tech than a silver censer and a big hat – suggesting this alarm suffers from an extreme misnomer. • Spotted: Town centre, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West

Above: Aaron, east and west. Left: an 18th-century icon from Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia. Right: Pier Francesco Mola’s superb painting, “Aaron, Holy to the Lord“, c.1650.

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