Sister Linda Thompson gave the newer members an Iconography Workshop on March 9 – 13, 2015.
Tradition tells us that the very first sacred icon was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist, depicting our Blessed Mother holding the child Jesus. This icon has been handed down through the ages. Historically we know for certain that ancient Monasteries in Greece and Byzantium produced great masterpieces of this specialized art from the 5th Century – but most we are familiar with have come from the 12th Century and later.
Writing an icon is not just a type of hobby art. It is a Sacred Art of the Eastern Church, done according to strict technique in a setting of prayer. For Orthodox Christians, it is given as much respect and veneration as the Sacred Word in Scripture. For them it is Theology in colour, while the written Scriptures express Theology in word.
Since I was blessed to have opportunity to learn the basics of this wonderful tradition, it is encouraged to ‘hand it on’ in some way. I am certainly not an expert iconographer, but that is really not the point. Just as when we pray with a passage of Scripture we are not trying to recreate and change God’s Word… rather, we are trying to let it sink into our hearts and be reflected in our lives. So too, in writing an icon, we are entering into a relationship with the image we are trying to portray and setting aside our own preferences, we adapt to traditions handed on in order to share the ‘presence’ of Christ, His Blessed Mother and the saints in a way that can touch the lives of others.
We were blessed to be able to set aside a whole week to enter into the experience of this prayerful form of art. Together we walked through all the basic steps involved to write the icon of ‘Our Lady of the Passion’, which was later adopted by the Redemptorists and named “Our Lady of Perpetual Help”. We painted in an atmosphere of prayer, with Eastern or Gregorian Chant playing softly to set the tone. It was an enriching and educational experience for all.
Sister Linda Thompson, rpb