Our Lady of Tenderness. April 2013. Sold, Dublin. Ireland
St. Mark. St. Mark's parish church, Tallaght, Dublin 24
Sacred Heart. for Gerard & Penny Brady. Longford, Co Roscommon
Triptych icon of Virgin of Lujan. Papal Gift. July 2013
Triptych Icon written Dec. 2013 for violin maker in USA
Meaning of the Icon
The Lapis Lazuli blue cloak of the Virgin Mary is a
symbol of her royalty in the line of King David. But blue is also a symbol of
her humanity. She is the most perfect of all creatures, the masterpiece of
God's hands, full of grace.
. Because the icon is itself the source of light,
it does not reflect outward light such as one sees in the eyes of portrait
paintings. Because the Icon is the source of light, the figures do not cast
shadows on any other object in the icon. Gold in an Icon is
symbolic of Heavenly light The gold halo around the head of the Virgin
and Saints is not coming from above but emanating from the figures themselves
and moving out even to the outer border of time and space.
From the Virgin Queen of Heaven and Earth, twelve golden
light beams radiate outwards. Twelve is
a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental
perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule. The sun
which "rules" the day, and the moon and stars which
"govern" the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs
of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 (12 x 30)
degrees or divisions, and thus govern the year. Our Lady is referred to in the
Book of Revelations as: “The Woman Cloth with the Sun and the Moon under her
feet.” The number twelve is found 187 times total in the Bible, 22 of which are
in the book of Revelation. The significance of the number 12 is that it
represents divine authority and appointment, as well as governmental foundation
and perfection, and shows completeness. Behind the Virgin, is seen the blues of
the celestial sky. It also represents the colours of the Argentinean national
flag. One this flag is show the image of the radiating face of the sun. Under
the praying hands of the Virgin de Lujan, is the image of the radiation Son of
God who was clothed in our Human nature in the most Chaste Womb of the Virgin.
The whole centre image is shaped like an egg showing
the Virgin’s fecundity. In speaking of the seven privileges of Our Lady, St.
“The third privilege of Mary was that she alone was
a mother and at the same time an inviolate virgin. St. Bernard, praising this
privilege, says: ‘Mary chose for herself the better part. Clearly the better,
because conjugal fecundity is good, but virginal chastity is better, but the
best is virginal fecundity, or fecund virginity. The privilege of Mary will not
be given to another, because it will not be taken away from her’. ”
Below the Virgin are three coats of Arms. On the left
is that of the Franciscan Order, in the Centre is the Coat of Arms of His
Holiness, Pope Francis I., and on the Right is the emblem of the Society of
Jesus or the Jesuits.
On the Left wing is the Image of St. Francis of Assisi,
the 13th Century Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the
men's Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare.
On the Right wing is the Image of Saint Ignatius of
Loyola, the 16th Century Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family,
hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus
(Jesuits) and was its first Superior General.
Both saints had a vision of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
While he was praying on the mountain of Verna,
during a forty-day fast in preparation for Michaelmas (September 29), Francis
is said to have had a visionas a result of which he received
the stigmata. Suddenly he saw a vision of a seraph, a six-winged angel on a
cross. This angel gave him the gift of the five wounds of Christ."
Saint Ignatius also had mystical experiences. While
praying in a little chapel at La Storta, on the road to Rome, he had a vision.
God appeared, commending him to His Son, who shone radiantly beside Him, though
burdened with a heavy cross, and a voice said, "I will be helpful to you
at Rome."He holds in his hand the
book of his Spiritual Exercises.
The visions which Francis and Ignatius saw, are on opposite sides of the icon. What Francis saw is in fact over the head of Saint Ignatius on the right panel, and what Saint Ignatius saw is over the head of St. Francis on the left panel. From each of the visions of Our Divine Saviour, there come forth graces. But all graces come to us through the Blessed Virgin Mary who is Mediatrix of all Graces.
Venerable Matt Talbot. Written by Sr. Irene. Rep of Ireland. 2013 - Sold. Cork, Ireland
The Broken bottle symbol of his break from the slavery of addiction.
Chain round waist which he wore as a penance after his conversion, is symbol of his enslavement to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Meaning of Icon The word 'icon' means 'image', and the story of icons in the Christian Church is a story of learning to gaze into the mystery of God. “Christ is the icon of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col 1:15) Because God took on human flesh and became visible, we can depict Him; indeed, to portray Christ is to strongly affirm that God did really become a man, and that Jesus Christ is not mere allegory or myth. A great deal of religious art can be merely decorative. It expresses the religious imagination of the artist and it is often charged with human emotions. Some of it is very precious to us. The icon, however, is a window through which we glimpse another world - the world of God. In the icon we are brought into the presence of the holy person or incident pictured; we 'see' the gospel before our eyes and the icon speaks to us. The icon is the occassion of a sort of revelation -in line and colour - of the kingdom of God. Hence the very icon itself is a sacred reality.
To write an icon is a religious activity requiring detailed discipline; to pray before an icon means to be drawn into some aspect of the mystery of God-with-us; to let an icon speak to us requires a depth of silence and a purity of heart which can only come from the Spirit. When we pray with icons we begin to acquire the characteristics which the icons symbolize. Christ Pentocrator The word Pantocrator is Greek, meaning "Ruler of All," or “Almighty”. The image expresses the central reality of the Christian faith; the Divine Majesty of the creator and ruler of all the world, made flesh and therefore visible to us in the person of Christ Jesus our redeemer. The oldest known icon of Christ Pantocrator was written in the sixth century and preserved in the remote monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai desert. The location enabled the image to survive the destruction of most icons during the iconoclastic era in Byzantine history, (726 to 815 AD.) On the inside of the central dome in Orthodox churches is frequently found an immense mosaic or painting of Christ Pantocrator. The Pantocrator image typically found in church domes is very stern and formidable, expressing in full the concept of "Ruler of All." Smaller, personal icons, while retaining the same majesty, more often represent a gentle and compassionate Lord.
Theology and Symbolism In this image of Christ Pantocrator, Jesus is presented in a half length pose, looking directly at the viewer, with his left hand holding the Sacred Word and his right hand raised in blessing. He is dressed in the traditional garb of tunic and cloak. His cloak, called in Greek a "himation" is dark blue (sometimes green) signifying the mystery of His humanity . His tunic is a bright crimson red to signify His divinity and also His human blood shed for us all. The garments of the Messiah in Isaiah 63:1-4 were red, as was the soldier’s cloak put on Jesus’ shoulders during his passion (Matthew 27:28.)Thus Jesus Christ is by nature divine, yet is fully clothed in humanity. The blue cloak is distinct from the red, as Christ’s humanity and divinity are distinct and not “inter-mingled”. Yet the blue cloak is also girded firmly around His waist, showing the Son of God to have taken on human nature forevermore; Christ’s humanity has not been casually cast off after 33 short years on earth. To any Catholic or Orthodox Christian, Jesus’ right hand is unmistakably shown as being raised to give a blessing. The arrangement of the hand, repeated by clergy when blessing others, is also rich in meaning. The fingers spell out the four-letter Christogram “IC XC”, as it is by the name of Jesus that we are saved and receive blessings. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;” (Phil 2:10). Not only that, but the three fingers of Christ – as well as spelling out “I” and “X” confessed the Tri-unity of God:Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The touching finger and thumb of Jesus not only spell out “C”, but attest to the Incarnation: to the joining of divine and human natures found in the body of Jesus Christ. The Bible he holds in his left hand is open to display a passage from the Gospel of St John. In those instances, the icon may also be called “Christ the Teacher”, for obvious reasons. Because the icon is itself the source of light, it does not reflect outward light such as one sees in the eyes of portrat paintings. Because the Icon is the source of light, the figure does not cast shadows on any other object in the icon. The gold halo around the Head of Christ is not coming from above but eminating from the figure itself and moving out even to the outer border of time and space. Christ’s halo is not the same as the halos shown around other saints. Inside of Christ’s halo is the Cross – the Cross of Salvation – although only three arms are visible: the three arms make up a Holy Trinity. Upon the three arms are the Greek letters ώ Ό Ν (omega, omicron, nu) which literally means “I AM”. This is a reference to Christ’s divinity, as “I AM” was the name God revealed to Moses (Ex. 3:14). Jesus attributed this title to Himself when He said: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), attesting to His divinity and His eternal existence (two ways of saying the same thing). These revelations of Jesus Christ’s nature and the Holy Trinity are preserved in Christ’s Halo. About Christ’s Head are the letters “IC” and “XC”, a widely used four letter abbreviation of the Greek for Jesus (IHCOYC) Christ (XPICTOC). The face of Jesus follows ancient traditions. The eyes are disproportionally large to symbolize that they are windows to the soul. They look directly into the soul of the viewer. The forehead, identified as the seat of wisdom, is high and convex. The nose is long and slender, contributing a look of nobility. The mouth is small and closed admonishing viewers to contemplate God quietly. The hair is curled and flowing, recalling the endless flow of time. The neck and body are powerful reminders of His strength and majesty. The right side of the face is not identical to the left. This depicts Christ’s duel nature. In many Icons of Christ Pentocrator two strands of hair lies on his forhead contributing again to this theme of his two natures. Technique The wooden panel has a particular ascetic significance - it is an extension of the wood of the cross, and the painter shares as s/he works the suffering of the Lord, who struggled to incarnat a new vision and path in
human life. The iconographer
is bound to the board, as to the cross, till the sign of the coming kingdom is made. The indentation of the board is symbolic of the Arc of the Covenant. The inner surface represents Paradise which is separated by the border from this outside world or cosmos. The wood is covered with linen cloth, which both reminds us of the bound Christ in the tomb and serves a practical purpose of counteracting the movement of the wood - as a natural material it responds to atmosperic pressures. This technique has its roots in the plastered linen of Egyptian burial shrouds. Linen was also used to wrap the new born infant.The board is then gessoed - glue and whiting is seived together and built up in an average of 8-12 layers. This gesso is the sign of a paradox - it both seals in the underlayers - as Christ was sealed in the tomb, and it forms the surface on which the icon - the sign of the new creation is to be made. When the gesso has been washed and sanded smooth, the image is etched into the gesso. Red clay is first applied to take the gold. The Hebrew word for red clay is oudem. It is the root word for Adam, Esau, and Edom: all speak of flesh. Then comes the first sign of resurrection begins! The gold goes on! Gold is applied by breathing on the clay. “..And God breathed into the nostrals the breath of life..Gen.2:7. Gold is symbolic of our spiritual nature and the breath symbolizes the Spirit breathing into Adam the breath of life. This is, so to speak, the firing of the clay vessal. Gold does not decay, so has come to represent the immutable mystery of the pre-eternal God. The gold, or at least a gold colured ground is used in most icons of Christ or the Virgin - light from light, God from God. However it is by no means used in every icon - when used it is in accordance with it’s spiritual value, and in the icon of a hermit, for example one may prefer to emphasise another value by the colour - such as ascesis. After the gold is applied the red line is drawn around the halo. This bright red line symbolizes the transfigured physical nature of the clay after being ‘fired’ by the gold. The clay emerges in a purer state and is fit to receive the Spirit as a clay pot is fit to hold water after it has been fired in a kiln. Every part of the icon has gone through a death process. The wood has been cut, the flax has been pounded, the animal or plant which provided the skin has died, the metals have decayed and even the earth colours have been washed again and again - like a baptism! The icon shows the movement to resurrection. The Journey begins. The first colours which go on are, as a general principle the darkest reflect the unfathomable mystery of God who is inaccessible in his essence and dark to our intellect. It also symbolizes the dark chaos of creation without consciousness of God. Dark lines are drawn to differentiate the shapes of colours establishing boundaries between them. This symbolizes the Law of nature.
In Russian technique the layers are often floated on - but very differently to water colour. The dry pigments are mixed with the yellow of egg and a little alcohol and vinegar, which gives them a brilliance and resonance not found in any other medium. The art of the iconographer is to increase that resonance to the maximum - sometimes bringing opposing colours into sharp conjunction - somewhat like the techniques of ecclesiastical embroidery, sometimes carefully building up innumerable layers of slightly changing grades of colour, so that the richness of the number of layers intensifies the resonance. It is an attempt to show the Spirit of God resonating through the physical container. Finally, very concise lines are applied, which by their linear expression and repetition, similar to calligraphy, multiply the resonance. You have to know exactly what you are doing - precisely how you are going to ‘write’ each line. These lines have all the deliberateness of a credal statement. They are written as a confession of faith - a powerful witness and sign.
Anointing Sealing of the Icon or anointing with linseed oil, “Olifa”, and the blessing given to the icon by the priest during the Liturgy: This blessing establishes a connection between the image of the person depicted and its prototype; thus transforming the icon into a perfect instrument for prayer and contemplation. This is the time when one can say that the icon has become a window to Heaven.
A PRAYER ON THE NEW ICON. Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. O Lord, God of the whole incorporeal and perceptible creation, the Maker of the heavenly hosts, the earthly beings and all that is under the earth, You have filled Your Church with the likeness of the first-born who are written in Your Heavenly Church and who minister to You with Your Holy Spirit. Grant, O Lord God, that Your powerful and omnipotent right hand may protect, bless and sanctify this icon for the adoration of Your Most Honored Name. May all those who call upon You in true faith and ask of Your compassion with a pure heart, receive their good requests and present to You first-fruits and oblations for obtaining health and healing and for attaining salvation of their souls. We beseech You and make supplication to You to accomplish Your command and fulfill the promise of Your Most Holy Spirit so that the Gospel precept may dwell, operate, perfect and be diligent regarding every deed or word that is done or said in the name of this icon. We ask this favor by Your loving-kindness, the mercies of Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, with Whom befit You praise, honor and dominion with Your Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Deacons: Amen. Priest: O Lord our God, by the prayers of Your Mother and of all Your saints, martyrs, apostles and St. (N). Here he anoints the icon with oil, not chrism, saying: In the Name of the Father +. Deacons: Amen. And of the Son +. Deacons: Amen. And of the Holy Spirit + for life eternal. Deacons: Amen.