I am always very appreciative of my readers writing to me and providing new information and interpretations of sacred icons and images. Happily, that occurred last evening when a reader, Mr. John Daly from Australia, provided me with information on the second icon that was in yesterday’s post on St. Athanasius. Let me provide you with that image so we will have a reference point: Mr. Daly is correct – it is St. Spyridon (born AD 270, died 340). Let’s take a look at the reasons for this correction: The bishop castigating the heretic Arius is wearing a distinctive hat. … Continue reading St. Athanasius and St. Spyridon: A Correction and Another Interpretation – Let’s Take A Closer Look!
St. Athanasius of Alexandria was “the Lion” of the Council of Nicaea. He was instrumental in providing well argued testimony rebuking the heretic Arius during the Council’s debates. His verbal skills, as powerful and commanding as a lion, shredded Arius’ arguments. His eloquence convinced the assembled bishops of the correct dogma that Jesus Christ has two, separate and distinct, natures (divine and human), and that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. The heretic Arius insisted that Jesus was “just a creature” of God. The Council’s main purpose was to address the divine nature of Jesus Christ and the … Continue reading St. Athanasius – Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Icons
The extensive Gospel reading for Palm Sunday relates the Scriptural and historical truth that Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem, yet, five days later He was arrested, put on trial, tortured, and executed. As you know, the religious and secular leaders of Israel did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. They were adamant about the fact that Jesus was just a man and that His claims, teachings, and healings were all fraudulent. Their disbelief took place during the first century, yet, two hundred years later there were Christians saying the same thing. The questions came down to, “Who … Continue reading Saint Nicholas Slaps a Heretic! A Reflection Appropriate for Palm Sunday
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
“God of all compassion, Father of all goodness, to heal the wounds our sins and selfishness bring upon us You bid us turn to fasting, prayer, and sharing with our brothers and sisters. We acknowledge our sinfulness, our guilt is ever before us; when our weakness causes discouragement, let your compassion fill us with hope and lead us through a Lent of repentance to the beauty of Easter joy. Grant this through Christ our Lord.”* Amen. *Roman Breviary – Vol. 2; Third Sunday of Lent, Evening Prayer I, Closing Prayer, pg. 210. Continue reading God is a God of Compassion
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.
Today’s post will continue to add to my two previous posts: The Apologists (Defenders of the Faith) – Part 7, and The Apologists – Comparing Icons. The men below are also known as the Ante Nicene Fathers. The word Ante (before) refers to the fact that they defended the Faith during the terrible persecutions of the first three centuries of the Church (the Domitian, Decian, Valerian, and Diocletian persecutions). These persecutions occurred prior to the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). The Council of Nicaea was called by the Emperor Constantine in order for the assembled bishops, and their representatives from throughout … Continue reading Apologists – Additional Saints Prior to the Council of Nicaea
A Challenge: Are you as a Christian artist willing to internalize the message of the saint, scene, or Scripture passage you are artistically representing, and then, correctly portray it according to Church tradition? Sacred artists must have more than just an awarenesses of Jesus, His Mother, angels and saints because their witness provides us with the foundation stones of our Faith. Sacred artists must be more than artists who propose “Art for art’s sake”. If we do this what do we become? We become evangelists to the truth, goodness, and beauty of God, through the witness of Jesus Christ and … Continue reading Christian Witness and Sacred Art – The Early Church Fathers – Part 7
Just wanted to notify the people who are following the art lessons in my St. Joseph Art Workshop tab that I just published Lesson 4: Applying Color and Modeling the Face. You need to go to the Menu tab above and click on Lesson 4 to see it. My next post in the St. Joseph’s Art Workshop tab will be Lesson 5. It will be the last post in my Art Exercise of Painting Sacred Images using Acrylic Paint. Thanks. Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop: Lesson 4 – Applying Color and Modeling the Face
Today’s post is Part 4 in my series that began on May 16, 2018 concerning the recently concluded exhibition of extraordinary egg tempera paintings by the Dominican friar Beato Fra Angelico. The exhibition was held at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts during the Spring of 2018 and was entitled Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth. Nathaniel Silver, Associate Curator of the Collection for this exhibition, includes in his book, Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth, articles by eleven scholars. Each paper is a quality contribution to scholarship. There is one article authored by Chiara Pidatella, entitled “The Provenance of … Continue reading Fra Angelico’s Four Reliquaries for the Church of Santa Maria Novella – Part 4 of the “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition
I hope you had a blessed Feast of Pentecost! Please read Part 1 of “Fra Angelico – Heaven on Earth” (posted here on May 16, 2018) in order to receive a proper introduction to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s extraordinary exhibition that, unfortunately, closed this weekend.. As you moved into the gallery that exhibited this once in a lifetime collection of Fra Angelico paintings you first saw the beautiful painting entitled The Ascension of Christ, The Last Judgement, and Pentecost (the Corsini Triptych). It is painted in egg tempera with gold leaf on a wood panel. Fra Angelico painted it … Continue reading Fra Angelico – “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition – Part 2 – Ascension, Pentecost, the Last Judgement
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts is the only venue in America for the extraordinary “Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth” exhibition. This amazing collection of reliquaries which express the life of the Virgin Mary, and other paintings of the greatest painter of the Early Renaissance, will be on display until this Sunday May 20th, 2018. Earlier incorrect media reports had the last day as May 28th. I will be posting my photos of the Gardner Museum’s exhibit starting with this post and continuing on through the upcoming weeks and months. The exhibit consists of more than just the … Continue reading Fra Angelico – The “Heaven on Earth” Exhibition – Part 1
Good day, I just posted, starting at # 8 in the list, Part 3: Pigments and Mediums, required to paint the sacred image. Please note that the pigments in bold face are the ones you need to purchase for the sacred image in Exercise Number 1. Please remember that you will have to scroll down in the St. Joseph’s Art Workshop Tab in the Menu at the top of the site in order to reach the new post. Thanks. April 17, 2018 © Deacon Paul O. Iacono 2011-2018 Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop – Part 3: Pigments and Mediums
Allow me to suggest to my fellow Catholic sacred artists a “canon” of ten fundamental propositions. These ideas and proposals are my personal musings. They assist me in organizing my thoughts and behavior. It is my hope that they will act as an organizational tool for the interested reader, too. They may also assist you, as they have for me, in providing clarity to our foundation and purpose as sacred artists. The term “Catholic” in this document refers to the Latin Rite (Rome) and the more than twenty Rites of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches that are in union with … Continue reading The Canon of a Catholic Sacred Artist
If you are interested in actually creating a sacred image in the tradition of the Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) Church then please click on the Tab in the Menu Bar above Fra Angelico’s image of The Annunciation and read the introductory post on St. Joseph’s Art Workshop. That Tab will explain what I hope to provide interested individuals who would like to participate in this free on-line service. Participants must remember that all artistic endeavors are a continual learning process. As a result, if a student decides to walk through the door of this Workshop they must remember that rarely is … Continue reading St. Joseph’s Art Workshop – A Resource for Sacred Artists and Students
Thought you might enjoy my homily for this weekend’s solemnity of Christ the King: Today, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe; yet, our Gospel presents to us a scene that recalls Good Friday. For we again hear and visualize Pilate’s interrogation of Christ and His kingdom. In the Book of Revelation Jesus is given the title King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16); and today, at the heart of this Gospel, we are challenged to respond to that title. It is a challenge that … Continue reading Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
On October 1st we celebrate the memorial to Saint Thérèse of The Holy Face, also known as St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St Thérèse – The Little Flower. She was born Therese Martin in France in 1873 and died from tuberculosis 24 years later in 1897. When she was fifteen she entered the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux and took the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She lived a life of simplicity, humility, and trust in God. “Therese never went on missions, never founded a religious order, and never performed great public works. Her only book, published after … Continue reading St. Therese of Lisieux and the Christian Way of Beauty
We are so very grateful to everyone who has visited this website over the past year. It was on August 1, 2011 that I posted my first essay. By midnight tonight over 13,000 people, from 106 nations, will have visited this site and, hopefully, been spiritually fed by the discussion on issues concerning sacred images and iconography, prayer, and reflections on the Holy Scripture. May God continue to bless all those who have an interest in sacred art and move them to deepen their prayer life by using sacred art as a focal point in their meditations. Thank you! May … Continue reading Thank You! Our One Year Anniversary!
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
This is the third part of a three part series on a Spirit filled idea called Oro et Creo (“I Pray – I Create”). This idea was started by artists Jamie Medeiros and Deacon Tom Lambert. Please check out the first two parts of this series which have already been posted in order to get a full perspective on what they are accomplishing on the parish level. What is wonderful about what Jamie and Deacon Tom are doing is that they are providing a simple, no anxiety-no pressure structure through which the Holy Spirit can move the person to unite … Continue reading ORO et CREO: PART THREE – A Personal Reflection
All of us struggle with the reality that the experiences of our life may harden our hearts and deafen our ears to God’s truth. We may be similar to the disciples in this past Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 24: 35-48), who were filled with anxiety – until – – the moment “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Jesus shows them the nail wounds in His hands and feet. He explains to them that the Scriptures teach that we cannot have glory and honor without the willingness to suffer and die to our own sinful will and perceptions. He teaches them … Continue reading Shaped By The Potter’s Hands
It was about nine in the morning when they nailed Jesus to the cross. From noon until three o’clock there was darkness over the whole world. At three o’clock, Jesus cried out in a loud voice: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? It is finished. When we were His enemies, God reconciled us to Himself by the death of His Son. Realize that you were delivered from the futile way of life your fathers handed on to you, not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ’s blood beyond all price: the blood of … Continue reading Good Friday Meditations
In the passage from the first Epistle of Peter known as the Canticle of Peter (1 Peter 2: 21-24) Peter describes Jesus’ acceptance of His passion. He explains: “Christ suffered for you, and left you an example to have you follow in His footsteps. He did no wrong; no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted He returned no insult. When He was made to suffer, He did not counter with threats. Instead He delivered Himself up to the One who judges justly. In His own body He brought your sins to the cross, so that all … Continue reading What Does The Silence Of Christ Say To Us?
Today, we are asking our good friend, St. Teresa of Avila to help us in the process of thinking clearly about prayer. She is a worthy mentor – for she cuts to the heart of the matter in a practical and meaningful way. In her Book of Foundations, she makes many important observations that will help us become more focused on what we are doing in prayer. This focus will in turn help us with our artistic creativity. A few examples of her perceptive thoughts: “The first thing I wish to discuss, as far as my limited understanding will allow, … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative – Part 3 – Prayer Tips
All artists, by their very nature, contemplate. They are natural born contemplatives. In its dictionary definitions we see that the word contemplate means: 1) “to intently look at something, 2) to study carefully, and 3) to have in mind the possibility or a plan of action.” A person whose artistic skills are expressed through photography or the enhancement of physical beauty through fashion or cosmetics can certainly contemplate the meaning of beauty and maintain its traditions or break out and establish new ones. The same is true of a sculptor, painter, musician, needlework artist, poet, writer or any person working … Continue reading The Artist As Contemplative – Part 1: The Proper Approach
The Gospel of St Mark, chapter 9: 14-29, challenges us to ask ourselves the question “How does the effective disciple of Jesus live his or her life?” Clearly the ineffectiveness of Jesus’ disciples in doing His work is evidenced when the father of the possessed boy complains to Jesus that His disciples were unable to help his son, and even questions the power of Jesus to intervene on his son’s behalf. Jesus responds with disappointment tinged with anger over the actions of some of His disciples; people who took it upon themselves to act in Jesus’ name but were not … Continue reading Making Room In Your Heart for God, Prayer, and Creativity
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all contain the story of the demoniac from the territory in northern Israel called the land of the Gerasenes. They describe the fact that the demons had united within this man for a specific purpose – to torment this poor sinner and to terrorize the countryside with demonic power so concentrated – that the evil was unable to be controlled. Unclean spirits fueled the demoniac’s actions; and as Jesus steps out of the boat onto the shore the demoniac immediately confronts Jesus and the demons within him beg to be left alone. Jesus … Continue reading The Demons Say “We Are Legion.” Jesus says “Trust Me.”
A very clear narrative greeted us in yesterday morning’s Gospel by St. Luke. He tells us that both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both righteous before God: walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord – they were blameless; but they have no child. Elizabeth was barren and both were elderly. We read of Zechariah silently bringing his heavy heart before the Lord – even after all those years – it was still burdened with disappointment. The couple probably remembered Psalm 112 which says: “Happy the man who fears the Lord, who takes delight in his commands. … Continue reading Five Days Before Christmas: A Unique Story About The Graciousness of God
Today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of all the Americas, recalls the apparition of our Blessed Mother on the hill of Tepeyac in present day Mexico City from December 9th through the 12th in the year 1531. Guadalupe is the Spanish translation of the Aztec phrase that Juan Diego heard Mary associate herself with – the name, interestingly, in Aztec means “she will crush the serpent of stone.” In the same year – 1531 – thousands of miles away in what today we call Germany – Martin Luther was pro- claiming his doctrine of protest and rebellion from … Continue reading A Beautiful Pregnant Young Woman And Her Message To A Weary World
Today is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “Rejoice!” The Church has us visualize this by the rose colored candle in the Advent wreath and the rose colored vestments. Gaudete Sunday appears at the midpoint of the Advent season, and we pause to rejoice and reflect on the marvelous work of God and His plan of salvation for us. Our readings show us Isaiah speaking of the splendid work of God – – St. Paul telling us to “give thanks and rejoice always,” not just in good times, but in all circumstances, and our Gospel describes St. John the Baptist testifying that the Light of … Continue reading The Joy Filled Christian – A Sermon on Survival in the Face of Tribulation