About the Founders

Deacon Paul O. Iacono is an ordained Roman Catholic deacon from the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, USA. In 2009 Deacon Paul and his wife Jacqueline founded the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts. They received the blessing and permission to proceed with implementation of this ministry in 2010 from his Excellency the Most Reverend Thomas J. Tobin D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Providence.

The mission of the Fra Angelico Institute is threefold:

  1. To promote the prayerful creation of Christian sacred art in the traditions of both the Western and Eastern Rites of the Church,
  2. To promote an individual’s encounter with Jesus Christ through the study of sacred art while simultaneously having them perceive the truth, goodness, and beauty of God as expressed through the teachings of the Church,
  3. To help unite the adult artist’s prayer life to their creative process.  
  4. Contact information:  If you have any questions we welcome you to email us at deaconiacono@icloud.com  and please consider subscribing to our blog at fraangelicoinstitute.com.
Deacon Paul O. Iacono is the husband of Jacqueline (Jackie) Iacono, the father of three, and the grandfather of seven children. He is a teacher and artist. He earned both an undergraduate and graduate degrees in the social sciences and a graduate degree in theology. He began studying and painting sacred images in 2006 after his retirement from the secular teaching profession.
In past years the Fra Angelico Institute has conducted workshops in the prayerful creation of sacred images and has made presentations on the history of sacred art as it developed within both the Eastern and Western Rites of the Catholic Church. The workshops and presentations are open to all who are interested in sacred art. 
Deacon Iacono has received training in the fundamentals of art and egg tempera painting from the internationally known painter, Koo Schadler. He received instruction in the painting of sacred images by five teachers in the field of sacred art: Rev. Peter Pearson, Dimitri Andreyev, Marek Czarnecki, Anna Pokrovsky Gouriev, and Cornel Apostol. He does not claim to strictly follow their approaches to sacred art or to teach their methodology. He paints in two different mediums: acrylic and egg tempera.
He is interested in examining the techniques of Latin Rite sacred artists, such as Theophilus the Presbyter (Roger of Helmarshausen, O.S.B.), exploring the unity between the spiritual and creative life, and discovering the methodology and perspective of pre 8th century artists within the Latin and Greek Rites. He is also very interested in European art from the 11th through the 15th centuries. In his sacred art workshops he unites his current research with some methods learned from his teachers within the Eastern Rite tradition and presents to his students the need to have an open perspective while maintaining respect for sacred tradition and spiritual truth and beauty within the Western and Eastern Rites. 
Deacon Iacono’s sacred images attempt to convey lessons of Sacred Scripture, so that the image produced may serve as a spiritual aid to personal prayer. Both Deacon Paul and his wife Jackie believe that the prayerful creation of sacred art, in all its various forms, is a powerful way to evangelize the truth, goodness, and beauty of God to the world – for it can dramatically influence and help the artist as well as those that prayerfully view the art itself – bringing both closer to the love and person of Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, the angels, and the saints.  
We are very grateful for your prayers, thoughtfulness, and support. Thank you for visiting us. 

15 thoughts on “About the Founders

  1. What a great website, and what a terrific, worthy, and timely project! Deacon Greg Kandra’s blog led me here, and your purpose strikes close to home.

    Over the past few years I have been lucky enough to have been able to develop “The Nativity Story” with Jane Henson, co-founder with her husband Jim of the Muppets back in the 1950s. The play is performed with table top and rod puppets crafted by the Jim Henson Workshop in New York and bas relief puppets based on medieval paintings by Giotto, as Jane had long wanted to create a show in which the figures in a manger scene came to life. Sacred music is played live in the show by a Renaissance trio and the script uses as its core texts of the ancient Mystery Cycles.

    The opening scenes were showcased at the puppetry track of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Conference in Connecticut, and the entire production premiered at St James Catholic Cathedral in Orlando just before Christmas, 2010. For the Epiphany in 2012 it toured to schools and churches of several denominations, through donations made by Jane and her youngest daughter, Heather (who had produced the full show together as well). Very consciously, we felt we followed in the footsteps of the medieval artisan guilds.

    We would like the show to continue to tour and develop, and envision working on similar projects, but have felt until now a little like an island with no other “guilds” with whom we could share, or any way to have the show seen other than by contacting churches in the Orlando area and asking if they’d like a free performance. Also, as it features puppets, it is assumed to be specifically for young children, which it actually is not, as the review linked as our website indicates. Are all members of the Institute in or near Rhode Island? Would you consider “casting the net” for Floridians? (Heather did attend the Rhode Island School of Design!)

    Thanks again for starting the Institute– it is a beautiful idea, and should attract many artists who may feel the Spirit moving them, but not be sure in which direction!

    • Hello and Welcome!

      Yes by all means you and your colleagues are welcome to join the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts and feel free to spread the blog address to any person or group that you believe would find it interesting and helpful.
      Even though we are physically located within the Diocese of Providence – at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wakefield, RI, in nine months since we have advertised our existence the membership list has grown from artists in RI and MA to other states in the USA. Also, as a result of Facebook, CatholicTV, and WordPress we have “followers and subscribers” from Australia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil! Actually, I must admit that I stand in awe of the power of the Holy Spirit to move people to see and act on the idea that you can unite your prayer life with the creative spirit given to each of us by God Himself – so that we may all together share the truth, goodness, and beauty of God through the creation of sacred art.
      A tip of the hat to you, Jane, and Heather for the living Nativity performance. We read the Orlando Sentinel article and were very impressed. It, too, is a wonderful idea, promoted by the Holy Spirit, to have people relate – through a creative performance – to the significance of the birth of Christ and the truth that His Mercy and Love is meant for all men and women throughout the world. God Bless you, please keep in touch, and if you like I will email you an application form to become a member of the Institute that you can share with anyone who is interested. Peace in Christ, Deacon Paul and Jackie Iacono

  2. Hello Deacon Paul,

    I love this site! Thank you for it…and we have some things in common. I too am an iconographer and have studied for years under Peter Pearson, since 2003 and recently took a class with Marek, Anna and Ksenia in Santa Barbara, CA in May 2012. How blessed to have studied under these amazing and gifted people.

    I have begun to teach icon workshops myself and am curious as to what your institute has to offer as per iconography instruction, or is your institute about your writing and blogging as it relates to sacred art?

    Thank you!

    Peace,
    Brenda Fox

    • Good morning Brenda,

      Yes, The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts is currently offering a workshop in Contemporary Sacred Image Painting. This title reflects the fact that the image will be painted using acrylic paints rather than egg tempera and pigments.
      The Institute has a series of “Guilds” (which is discussed in one of my early posts in August 2011) in which people who have become members request to be part of a specific guild within the Institute. We are trying to create a community of artists who share their love for art and express the interest of improving their prayer life through the prayerful creation of sacred art.
      The Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts has the support of the Bishop of our Diocese and works within the organizational structure of the Roman Catholic Church and my particular parish – St. Francis of Assisi in Wakefield, Rhode Island.
      Interested adults have become members of the Sacred Images Guild, Needlework, Stained Glass, Literary, Prayer, and Gardening Guilds. The largest Guild is the Sacred Images Guild. It has ten members. As of today, we have 20 charter members, and over 100 internet members – some of whom are in active Guilds and others who just like to participate by attending workshops, subscribing and reading my essays on the Institute’s web site, and or doing one of the most important elements, that is, being part of the Prayer Guild which prays for the artists to create beautiful art for the glory of God.
      The sacred image workshop sequence that we started in May of 2012 will come to completion in mid July. I am reviewing the artistic issues slowly and methodically, owing to the fact that adult learners have an entire set of issues that must be addressed – even with that – sometimes I proceed too quickly – and they let me know it!
      I have told my fellow students that, “The Process” of painting a sacred image, from my perspective, consists of a three step, continuous, process of: Study (the history and diversity of sacred imagery), Technique (learn and practice the variety of techniques necessary to paint an image), and, the most important: Prayer (daily prayer, and prayer while painting).
      You are more than welcome to join the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts. If you are interested please email me at frainstitute@cox.net, and I will be happy to send out a membership form to you. There are no dues!
      Please feel free to go all the way back to the start of this blog – in August 2011 – and peruse my essays to see if anything interests you. Please be so kind as to spread the word to your friends and fellow iconographers about the Institute and inform them of membership opportunities, too.
      Thanks for all your kind comments and keep us in your prayers – as we will with you.
      Deacon Paul and Jackie Iacono

  3. Thank you. This all sounds so wonderful. I will definately tell others about your insititue and blog, especially when I teach my workshops.

    Peace to you…Brenda

  4. I am so happy to see someone restore the proper role that art plays in Catholic worship. The minimalist art that now permeates many parishes is the equivalent of paintings of Elvis on Black Velvet compared to the religious art of the past. We need to restore the beauty, the reverence, the symbolism and holiness that true religious art conveys. Now if we can just do the same thing to architecture and music we might have something truly magnificent. Thank you.

  5. Hello, I’d like to send a picture of a communion pall I just finished. The embroidery and construction are fairly simple and accessible for most with basic skills for your embroiderers guild. Just email me if interested. Blessings, Anne

    • Thank you very much for thinking of us.

      Yes, we would enjoy seeing a picture of it, and if you are not already a member of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts (I can’t remember whether you filled out a membership form!) then please prayerfully consider becoming a member.

  6. I am a modern Christian artist. Although I do not use icon images in my work I center my pieces upon an ideal, idea, or Sacred Mystery. I am wondering if this Institute would be open to something a little different but non the less clearly presenting Mystery in an art form. I would be happy to send an example or two if that would help. For several years I was a featured artist at my parish Sacred Art Festival.

    • Hello Nancy,
      Thank you for writing.
      Yes, I am always personally interested in seeing how fellow artists visualize their impressions of sacred Mystery and present it in various media.
      Please feel free to email me at frainstitute@cox.net and attach your image(s) and a brief explanation of each.
      Best wishes for good fortune and the Lord’s blessings for the New Year.

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