Icon displayed at Motherhouse Chapel

The icon of St. Paul displayed in the Chapel of Mary Mother of Compassion at Providence Motherhouse.

Providence Pages & Monique Marchand

Providence Motherhouse became part of history in April when the travelling icon of St. Paul made a brief appearance in the Chapel as part of a special prayer service. Pope Benedict XVI has declared June 2008-June 2009, the Year of St. Paul in celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of the saint’s birth.

Monique Marchand, a Kingston Diocesan Coordinating Team Member/Lay Faith Development spoke at the April 20th prayer service about the icon, commissioned by the Archdiocese for this Jubilee event. The following is an excerpt from her speech.

“This icon was painted or ‘written’ by Phil Zimmerman, a Russian Orthodox iconographer. It was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Kingston in honour of the Year of St. Paul and completed in November of 2008.

The look of Saint Paul is based on a prototype from the Stavronikita Monastery in Mount Athos. This depiction is the most common one. He is young, with dark beard and hair and a receding hairline. Paul is carrying his letters which are bound in a jeweled book. His left hand points to his letters. One will notice he is not carrying a sword. In Eastern theology, only very rarely do you see a saint carrying the symbol of his martyrdom; more typically, it is a heavenly or glorified depiction. The halo is actually gold leaf inlay. The size is 28 inches x 32 inches.”

ABOUT ICONS provided by Monique Marchand:

Iconography has its roots in two Greek words: icon — image and graphing — to write.

Icons tells us things beyond logic and reason; they are not simple, painted images. Each one is a text which is why one uses the verb `to write’ when describing icons. They are also viewed as books for the uneducated. They tell a story and speak of deep theology.

Icons, such as those of Christ, Mary and the saints, are venerated to show our love, our respect, our support. Through icons, Christians also request the blessings of God and the saints.

In the Orthodox tradition, icons of Christ, Mary and the saints are depicted according to strict guidelines. An icon of Christ, for instance, has the colours gold (for King), blue (for humanity), red (for God) and must have three stars. Orthodox icons may also be painted according to the cultures of the believers. For instance there are icons of Georgian, Greek, Russian and Chinese styles.

Icons may tend to seem somber in mood. They do not depict and show our natural world, they depict the future world. Icons are not art pieces meant to be shown in galleries or museums. They are for veneration in church and at home.