Icon of the Week: Crucifixion

March 30, 2015 Comments Off on Icon of the Week: Crucifixion

RLCRUWPArtist’s Narrative:
The angel’s fiery sword will no longer guard the gate of Paradise, for the Cross of the Lord has put it out wondrously. The power of death has been broken, the victory of Hades wiped out, and You, my Savior, have stood up and called out to all those bound in hell: “Come now, and enter into heaven!”
(Byzantine Lenten Hymn)

Crucifixion Icon by  Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

(To view more icons from this artist, please visit Trinity Stores at https://www.trinitystores.com/)

Icon of the Week: St. Clare of Assisi

March 23, 2015 Comments Off on Icon of the Week: St. Clare of Assisi

RLCOAWhen she was 18 years old, Clare left behind the wealth and ease of her noble family and embraced the radical poverty of Jesus, which she had heard St. Francis praise in the streets of Assisi. For her remaining 41 years, she struggled against incredible odds to be true to her ideals. When church authorities ordered her to relax the austerity of her way of life, she patiently insisted that women could follow the Gospel ideals as well as men. Two days before her death, she finally received papal approval for the rule that she had written for her followers.

Like other women religious of her day, Clare and her companions lived within a strict monastic enclosure. What made them different was their rigorous vow of poverty, which forbade even communal possessions. They supported themselves by the work of their hands and depended on alms for the rest. They wore the simplest clothing and fasted every day except for Christmas and Sundays. In all things they strove to maintain among themselves “the unity of mutual love and peace.”

For 28 years Clare was continually ill, and often confined to her bed. Even in bed she insisted on doing her share of work. One legend tells of how she dropped a roll of linen cloth she was sewing, and how it rolled too far from her bed for her to reach. The monastery cat, with which she is pictured in this icon, retrieved the cloth for her so that she could finish the work. This story reflects the profound closeness to creation and all other creatures which lies at the core of Franciscan spirituality.

For 41 years Clare led her austere life with the same small group of women, only leaving her tiny monastery once. In spite of her illness and other problems, in spite of the sorrow she must have felt as she watched many of Francis’ male followers abandon his ideals after his death, her writings were filled with peace and joy. She challenges us to re-examine our own goals, which often bring us stress and misery, as she speaks of moving us through life “with swift pace, light step, and unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up no dust…”

Her feast day is August 11.

St. Clare of Assisi Icon by  Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

(To view more icons from this artist, please visit Trinity Stores at https://www.trinitystores.com/)

Icon of the Week: Sts. Perpetua and Felicity (Martyred March 7, 203)

March 9, 2015 Comments Off on Icon of the Week: Sts. Perpetua and Felicity (Martyred March 7, 203)

RLPAFArtist’s Narrative:
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity were North African friends martyred for their Christian faith in the amphitheater at Carthage. We know precise details of their imprisonment because Vibia Perpetua, a twenty-two year old of a distinguished noble family, kept a journal — the first known written document by a woman in Christian history, with a concluding narrative by an eye-witness.

Perpetua mentions that those arrested with her were a slave named Felicity and three men, Saturninus, Secundulus, and Revocatus. She details the misery of their cell, the efforts her father made to persuade her to recant, the naming of her family members, everyone who helped the martyrs, and those who condemned them. One person conspicuous in not being mentioned was her husband. As a noblewoman, she would have been married, but, for whatever reason, he was not there for her when one would think he would have been most needed. The person there for her was Felicity, who was expecting to give birth at any time.

Perpetua’s greatest concern was that she have her baby son with her as long as she lived. Felicity was worried that she might not be allowed to die with her companions because of her pregnancy. In answer to prayer, she gave birth to a girl. The pain of the delivery was compounded by the mockery of the jailer; but she was assisted and comforted by Perpetua. On the day of their death, they alone refused to wear the required pagan costumes — insisting on maintaining the dignity of their femaleness. They gave each other the kiss of peace, held on to each other as they were attacked by wild animals, and were finally beheaded.

The companionship of these women inspired subsequent ages. Their feast has always been called by their names. Together they are named in the Roman Canon of the Mass. Perpetua’s journal became such a beloved text in North Africa that St. Augustine felt he had to warn people not to give it a reverence due only to Scripture.

Perpetua’s feast day is March 7.

(To view more icons from this artist, please visit Trinity Stores at https://www.trinitystores.com/)

Icon of the Week: Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus

March 2, 2015 Comments Off on Icon of the Week: Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus

RLPANSoldiers in the Roman army and deeply attached to each other, they were both stationed in Militene, Armenia. The earliest account of Polyeuct’s martyrdom was written by Nearchus. The primary thread running through his narration is the desire of these two friends to spend eternity together. According to the text, when the emperor issues a new edict against Christians, Nearchus is terribly upset. He is worried that, since Polyeuct is a pagan and Nearchus a Christian, his own possible martyrdom and the eventual death of Polyeuct might lead to their being in separate places in the afterlife. Polyeuct reassures him that he has long been drawn to Christianity and intends to die a Christian. With a convert’s fervor, Polyeuct then attacks a pagan procession and gets himself arrested. The judge turns out to be his own father-in-law, Felix, who begs him to reconsider.

Polyeuct’s wife, Paulina, comes to court and unsuccessfully implores him, for the sake of their marriage and their son, to change his mind. After severe tortures, he is condemned to death. Just before he is beheaded, Polyeuct sees Nearchus near. His final words to Nearchus are “Remember our secret vow.” Nearchus recorded this story, which was recounted annually at the church and eventually erected over Polyeuct’s tomb in Militene. In the year 527, a great church with a gold-plated ceiling was built in Constantinople and dedicated to St. Polyeuct. Later in the same century, Gregory of Tours wrote that the most solemn oaths were usually sworn in this church; because Polyeuct had come to be considered the special heavenly protector of vows and avenger of broken promises.

The inscription on the bottom of the icon is a rendering of the saint’s names in classical Armenian, to honor the location of their story. The original of this icon is part of The Living Circle Collection in Chicago, Illinois.

Polyeuct’s feast day is February 13.

(To view more icons from this artist, please visit Trinity Stores at https://www.trinitystores.com/)

Icon of the Week: St. Declan of Ardmore

February 23, 2015 Comments Off on Icon of the Week: St. Declan of Ardmore



RLDOALittle is known of St. Declan, except that he was a prince of the Decius tribe of Celts in Ireland. Years before St. Patrick arrived, he was consecrated bishop of Ardmore in Waterford. Many miracles have been ascribed to him. He is buried in a tiny oratory in Ardmore, near which is his ancient well.

The Celtic peoples found much in Christianity, which reminded them of their native spirituality, and adopted the new religion with relative ease. Their local church, however, was considerably different than the church in Rome in many aspects. Rome struggled for centuries to subdue the Celtic church, finally succeeding with the Norman Conquest of Ireland in the 11th and 12th centuries. St. Declan harkens back to those earliest days when the Irish had their own truly native expression of Christianity.

(To view more icons from this artist, please visit Trinity Stores at https://www.trinitystores.com/)

Icon of the Week: The Resurrection of Christ

April 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

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Image of the Week: Man of Sorrows

April 14, 2014 Comments Off on Image of the Week: Man of Sorrows

The Man of Sorrows, ca. 1420–30 Michele Giambono (Michele Giovanni Bono) (Italian, Venetian, active 1420–62)

The Man of Sorrows, ca. 1420–30
Michele Giambono (Michele Giovanni Bono) (Italian, Venetian, active 1420–62)

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Themes derived from Byzantium continued to inspire Venetian painters of the fifteenth century. Giambono’s Man of Sorrows stands in an open tomb. His half-length body seems frail yet muscular, its tightly controlled curves silhouetted on the painted and tooled gold ground. Although Christ is unquestionably dead, there is still energy in his partly lowered head and extended arms. Streams of blood, sculpted in thick gesso, gush from wounds carved into the panel. The leaning of Christ’s head, the almost imperceptible turn of his body, and his slightly opened mouth and eyes suggest an awareness of the small figure of Saint Francis, who stands behind the tomb. Francis’ hands are clasped in a gesture expressive of both prayer and grief, a gesture not uncommon for Mary or John in North Italian scenes of the Crucifixion.

The panel appropriates the paradoxical iconography of its Byzantine prototype, the icon of the humiliated yet glorified Savior, and to this Giambono added more concrete narrative and symbolic allusions. The blood still dripping upward on Christ’s arms implies the immediacy of the Crucifixion, as if he had just been taken down from the Cross. Simultaneously, Christ is resurrected. In his marble and porphyry tomb, the embroidered shroud draped symmetrically over the front of the open tomb suggests the corporal of the Mass. Christ’s body therefore is visibly the liturgical sacrifice on the altar-tomb. His outstretched arms and palms display wounds that in contemporary devotional practice offered mystical union with Christ.

The presence of Francis is remarkable. It was believed that Francis, marked by the stigmata, attained perfect similitude to Christ crucified. In paintings, the stigmatization was often associated with the Crucifixion, but Giambono’s panel particularly emphasizes the devotional foundation of Francis’ conformity to Christ, for red lines link Christ’s wounds to those of Francis, devotee and alter Christus. In prayer and compassion, Francis provided an exemplary model for whoever prayed before this panel, possibly a Franciscan friar or tertiary.

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