All Saints Day

All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of All Saints, and Hallowmas, is a Christian solemnity celebrated in honor of all the saints of the church, whether they are known or unknown, and is celebrated in the Western Church on November 1.

The Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the “Church triumphant”), the living (the “Church militant”, and the “Church penitent” which includes the faithful departed. In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. In Methodist theology, All Saints Day revolves around “giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints”, including those who are “famous or obscure”. As such, individuals throughout the Church Universal are honoured, such as Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo and John Wesley, in addition to individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one’s grandmother or friend.

The Saints Inspire Us

“Paying homage to religious heroes and heroines is nothing new.  The veneration of and supplication to sacred ancestors exist in almost every culture, in every hemisphere.” Richard Vosko; Faith & Forum

According to the catechism of the Catholic Church “What is the Church if not the Communion of the Saints.”

Early Church Fathers

The Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the “Church triumphant”), the living (the “Church militant”, and the “Church penitent” which includes the faithful departed. In Catholic theology, the day commemorates all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. In Methodist theology, All Saints Day revolves around “giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints”, including those who are “famous or obscure”. As such, individuals throughout the Church Universal are honoured, such as Paul the Apostle, Augustine of Hippo and John Wesley, in addition to individuals who have personally led one to faith in Jesus, such as one’s grandmother or friend.

An early Serbian Christian saint, Saint Sava, is a good example of a humble yet powerful saint during his own lifetime as well as centuries after his death, who inspired and led many people to faith in God.

Saint Sava (1173-1236)

Well loved Serbian saint, dedicated his life to his people and his church, His life was shaped by prayer and concern for others, he modeled the characteristics of being meek yet strong, a man of great compassion and great leadership skills.  His importance extends far beyond his own lifetime, and  Christians and Muslims alike venerated him and attributed miraculous power to him. Through his efforts, they emerged as a spiritually unified entity.

Even though he lived in violent times, he refused to endorse the persecution of heretics and unbelievers. He powerfully influenced his church to use peaceful means against its opponents.

St Sava is known for deep meditation as well as action. His tomb in Milesevo became the source of grace, health, and consolation for all Serbian generations to come.

At the end of St. Sava’s life, disappointed with the struggle within the ruling body of the young Serbian Kingdom, Sava withdrew to his House of Silence in Studenica and offered a prayer to God, “ to let him die in a foreign country.” This was in protest against political disorder at home, his appeal to the conscience of his people, and his conviction that he would work for their salvation from outside.” 

“St Sava heard mysterious voices  commanding him to build something for his people that can serve as a harbor of salvation. And thus he started the renovation of Hilandar Monastery at Mt. Athos in Greece. A biography, “The Life of Saint Sava”, by Nicholai Velimirovich, is an excellent source of more history and stories of the miracles he performed and experienced.

Here is a quote from that book that aptly applies to our study of saints:

“Innumerable saints remain unknown to men and are known to God alone. Christ’s heavenly Kingdom would be pitifully small if it consisted only of those saints whose names are recorded in our calendar. God does not reveal to the world all the saints, and only a very few according to the religious need of a time or a nation. Through the miracles of those few revealed saints, God seeks to revive, strengthen or justify the faith of men of different countries or places.”

So let us, as we write the icons of Holy saints, remember to choose well the models and patterns that will help to heal and inspire the people of our time.

May God bless and inspire you as you paint His holy Icons.

Until next month,

Christine Simoneau Hales, Christinehales.com

Founder, American Association of Iconographers

Virtual Icon Gallery Exhibition

Greetings Friends and Iconographers:

This month I am presenting some writings and images from a beautiful exhibition of Eastern European icons dating from the nineteenth to sixteenth centuries that is hosted by a non-profit gallery of icons located in Žilina (Slovakia). The Gallery of Icons (OZ IKONY) in Žilina is found at: https://ikony.hour.sk/en/

Christ Pantocrator, Albania, seventeenth century, Courtesy, OZ IKONY

Gallery of Icons – OZ IKONY

The gallery was established in 2015 as the result of a private collection of East Christian icons. During the last 7 years of existence, the gallery has collected about 300 icons from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia or Albania. The icons are dated from the 14th until the beginning of the 20th century. Among the main activities of the gallery, I can name the presentation of the icons from various regions of Eastern Christian cultures, the conduct of research on icons and providing space for and organizing of conferences, lectures and concerts. The aim of the exhibition is to present the spiritual and artistic beauty of Eastern Christian icons and to create a living bridge between the East and the West. 

In March 2021 the gallery celebrated its 5th anniversary. The current exhibition called The Mysterious Face of Jesus Christ is the fifth in a row after the exhibitions dedicated to the themes of The Old Testament ProphetsThe Church FeastsThe Icons of the Mother of God, and Wisdom Hidden in Icons.

The 5th exhibition is opened from the 15th of September 2020 until June 2023. There are 25 artistically and historically valuable icons on display. Most of them are exhibited in Slovakia for the first time. There are Russian and Greek icons, one Romanian, Macedonian, and Albanian icon, and one icon from Mount Athos among the exhibits.

The Only Begotten Son and the Word of God, Russia, nineteenth century, Courtesy, OZ IKONY

American Association of Iconographers’ Goals 

Even as this is a newsletter to foster the development of American iconographers, we all owe a debt of gratitude to our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters who, through the centuries have produced so many beautiful and deeply spiritual icons worth imitating and learning from. The aim of this exhibition is to create a living bridge between the East and the West, which is closely aligned with the goals of the American Association of Iconographers.

Membership to the American Association of Iconographers is without financial obligation to its members and is open to all friends and lovers of icons around the world.  It is an ecumenical, primarily Christian group of icon collectors, scholars, icon writers and those whose mandate is education in the liturgical arts.

We invite members to contribute educational articles that might benefit all who love icons.  Email: christinehales@me.com for submission details.

The Saviour Depicted up to His Shoulders, Russian, sixteenth century, Courtesy OZ IKONY

Quotes from Milan Lach SJ, Bishop of the Eparchy of Parma, Ohio

“St John of Damascus (+749) once said: “When someone asks you about your faith, take him to church and show him the icons.”  … Icons are liturgical objects. They speak- communicate.  Persons depicted on icons are already in the Heavenly Kingdom.  They are transformed by uncreated light and participate in the life of the Most Holy Trinity.

Icons are not merely art, as Western culture would perceive it.  They are more than art.  Through an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, the Most Holy Theotokos, and the saints depicted on the icon, we can have a personal experience with the living God.

The icon is a tool of evangelization, through which the Church proclaims the living Jesus Christ.  To His person is dedicated this exhibition of twenty five beautiful  icons, here at the Gallery of Icons in Zilina.”

You can visit the 5th exposition in the virtual gallery: https://ikony.hour.sk/en/virtual-gallery/

I hope this virtual exhibition enriches your understanding and scope of possible models for future icons. Sending prayers for God to bless the work of your hands and minds, to the service of His Holy Church.

Kind regards,

Christine Simoneau Hales, Artist, Iconographer

www.newchristianicons.com

The Crucifixion, Russia, 1800, Courtesy, OZ IKONY