I would like to thank one of my readers who identified the contemporary icon of St. Spyridon (thanks Carol!). The iconographer is the Catholic priest William Hart McNichols. He is a very talented artist who paints traditional icons and sacred images. At times, he steps out of the bounds of the traditional approach and adds his own personal interpretation of the person he is portraying. His artistic vision is unique. John Daly from Australia emailed me this morning to provide further grist for our mill concerning St. Athanasius, St. Spyridon, and the Council of Nicaea. One of the participants in … Continue reading Sacred Icons and Sacred Images – the Nicene Debate Continues!
Is communication just a trait of human beings? Is it a trait of God? The Dogma of the Holy Trinity is one of the great Mysteries of the Christian Faith. All Christians acknowledge and accept that The One True God, the divine Holy Trinity, are three separate and distinct Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is not three separate Gods. They are one God in three Divine Persons. This is known as the dogma of the “consubstantial” Trinity: each of the three Persons is God – completely and entirely. These ideas were debated and verified by … Continue reading The Holy Trinity – Communication Through Word and Art
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, He was famished. (Gospel of Luke chapter 4: verses 1-2) In the extraordinary painting below, we see Jesus after He was led into the desert wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He is surrounded by rocks and sand. He sits on a boulder, hands in front of Him. His eyes are filled with the knowledge of reality, of passions, power, … Continue reading Christ in the Wilderness: Lent – the Season of Preparation – Luke 4: 1-2.
If you are in the vicinity of New Haven, Connecticut within the next two weeks take the opportunity to stop by the Knights of Columbus Museum for their magnificent exhibit entitled “Windows into Heaven – Russian Icons and Treasures.” The Museum is located at One State Street, New Haven, and offers free admission and parking. They are open from 10 to 5 pm. For the past year it has hosted a private collection of spectacular Russian sacred icons and liturgical artifacts. It is the finest collection of Russian sacred icons that I have observed in the Northeast owing to the fact … Continue reading Beautiful Russian Sacred Icons at the New Haven Knights of Columbus Museum
In the late 19th century a Russian painter, the noted portraitist, draughtsman, and teacher Ivan Kramskoi painted a haunting image of Jesus alone in the desert. It is a painting which expresses the internal struggle of the flesh versus the spirit. It portrays Jesus, in the early morning hours and the cold air of the dawn, with the sun rising over His back. He is surrounded by small boulders and sits on a rock, hands in front of him, eyes filled with anguish and pain. This portrait of Christ in the desert is not one of victory; looking closely at His … Continue reading Christ in the Wilderness, a Russian Artist, and a Challenge
My sincere thanks to Jonathan Pageau at the Orthodox Arts Journal, http://www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/, for permission to repost his wonderful presentation of the sacred icon miniatures of Russian artist Evgeny Baranov and the spectacular icon wood carvings by Rashid and Inessa Azbuhanov. We must take care when we paint/”write” large icons, yet, to complete an icon miniature or a wood carving, with such grace and spiritual truth, demands in my humble opinion, even more skill and patience! Enjoy, and be filled with astonishment! To see all of Baranov’s miniatures please visit their site:www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/miniature-icons-by-evgeny-baranov/ . To see the lovely icon wood carvings of the Asbuhanov’s please … Continue reading Evgeny Baranov’s Miniature Icons and Rashid and Inessa Azbuhanov Icon Carvings
We celebrate on this the first day of the New Year the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. Mary, by this very title, is the Holy Mother of the human nature of Jesus Christ. We receive insights on how the Church came to this title within the Holy Scriptures; for through a prayerful reading of them we come to an understanding of who this remarkable young woman was and what she means for us today. Three evangelists, Matthew, Luke, and John help us with this in their presentation of Mary as a woman who was clear minded, humble, … Continue reading Mary, The Holy Mother of God – The Sign of Our Unity
Today we celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Pontian, who was the lawfully elected successor pope to St. Callistus during the early 3rd century. St. Pontian was considered a criminal by the emperor Maximinius and banished to the silver mines in Sardinia – an exile which meant certain death. We also celebrate today a saint by the name of Hippolytus, who was a priest in the Church of Rome at this same moment in time. Saint Hippolytus is recognized because of his brilliance and profound scholarship. He is considered to be one of the finest theologians of the 3rd century, and is the source … Continue reading Saints Pontian and Hippolytus and Our Call to Duty
My favorite sacred icon of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the 6th century encaustic icon of Christ Pantocrator (Christ The Almighty One) from St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula. This sacred image was a paradigm shift in the way early Christians viewed and portrayed Jesus Christ. This icon (shown below) is not the thin young Messiah of the Catacombs, or the Roman nobleman presentation of the first four centuries of Church art (for examples confer Pierre du Bourguet’s book on Early Christian Painting). The Sinai Christ Pantocrator is portrayed as a robust Semitic man, who knows exactly what He is about, what His … Continue reading Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons: PART 3
The sacred icon is a visual aid that helps the person enter into a conversation with God, an angel, or a saint. If a sacred icon is to be painted with this purpose in mind then it it is a major responsibility of the sacred artist to construct the icon so that it may serve, rather than interfere with or destroy, that purpose. Thus, it is necessary for the sacred artist to curb the desire for ornateness, since it might detract from the prayer itself by focusing the viewer’s eyes on embellishment versus Person, or saint. Of all the physical … Continue reading Part Two: Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons
A few issues have come up in discussing some basic terms with people. I would like to be clear on how I have come to understand these words because it may affect how we view our “ministry” to be painters of sacred icons and or sacred images. From my understanding, the word icon in English, Greek, and Latin, is the word for image. In our usage as sacred artists, it refers to a sacred image of Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, angels, or specific saints. The purpose of a sacred icon is that, as a piece of sacred art, it … Continue reading Icons, Icon Painters, and Praying With Sacred Icons: Part One