St John of Damascus: On Holy Images 5

As the last post sharing the words written by St John almost 1300 years ago, I make no apology for this being a LONG ONE! It is clear and understandable if we go slowly and carefully, and explains why icons are so powerful. I am incredibly glad that their place in our spiritual lives is being recognised and accepted outside the Orthodox Church and I have worked closely with other denominations on icons for use in worship and in private prayer before. I hope this will continue! Those who sign up for the newsletter will be able to see the icon before it is listed for sale in the online shop this … [Read more...]

St John of Damascus: on Holy Icons 4

Saint John repeatedly asks us to think carefully about the difference between worship of God and the honour we pass to the icons bearing His image or those of His saints. Just as we might feel warmth or love looking at a garment - a scarf perhaps - of our loved one, we do not in any way love that actual garment but that it represents to us. EVERY one must recognise that a man who attempts to dishonour an image which has been set up for the glory and remembrance of Christ, of His holy Mother, or one of his saints, is an enemy of Christ, of His holy Mother, and the saints. It is also set up to … [Read more...]

St John of Damascus: on Holy Images 3

Why should we permit icons of the saints? One of the arguments is laid out for us to think about here: "We depict Christ as our King and Lord, and do not deprive Him of His army. The saints constitute the Lord's army. Let the earthly king dismiss his army before he gives up his King and Lord. Let him put off the purple before he takes honour away from his most valiant men who have conquered their passions. For if the saints are heirs of God, and co-heirs of Christ, (Rom. 8.17) they will be also partakers of the divine glory of sovereignty. If the friends of God have had a part in the … [Read more...]

St John of Damascus: on Holy Images 2

Further on in this first part of his text "On Holy Images", Saint John summarises the inherent goodness of matter.  Christianity has, in the past, tended towards a kind of dualism which can demote the physical and material to a 'lower' level; in fact, God's Creation is inherently capable of being "doxological, eucharistical' - capable of giving glory and thanks - to Him and we, as the priests of His Creation, are given gifts to use the Creation in a way to worship Him clearly.Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was never depicted. Now, however, when God is seen clothed in flesh, … [Read more...]

St John of Damascus: On Holy Images

This is the first of the posts sharing the works of St John of Damascus: On Holy Images. The original text is in three parts, and this is shortly after his introductory passages, asking readers to be kind and remember his aim is to defend the church and icons, rather than seek glory for himself.Here he sets out not only his completely orthodox belief in the triune God and the incarnation of Christ but shows clearly why it is permissible to show Christ in His human form, as we do in our icons. Having taken flesh - and transfigured it, being both fully human and fully God - we are not … [Read more...]

St John of Damascus: on Icons

This week I will be painting an icon from beginning to end (having already gilded the board) on retreat with Aidan Hart down in Shropshire. It is such a treat to have him as a guide and mentor, he is a wonderful teacher with a gift of clear sight, talent and communication. The subject of the large icon - which will be for sale in the shop next week - is St John of Damascus.Wait, Damascus? Isn't that... you know, in the middle of an awful civil war right now? Yes. Yes, the whole of Syria is suffering from the ongoing battle between just about everyone and the tide of refugees seeking to escape … [Read more...]

St Kentigern of Glasgow & growing

I recently completed my icon of St Kentigern (Mungo) of Glasgow and will be sharing a much better photograph of him soon - this is a snap on an overcast day using my phone (as most of us do these days!). He is the second of my 'Native' Saints for this year - mostly painted in March, so I am not too far behind. I aim to complete the icon of his mother St Theneva (Theneu) and St Constantine of Strathclyde before Pascha at the end of April, and so four saints in approximately four months so far this year, along with a few commissions has been keeping me too busy to prepare the baptism … [Read more...]

Abbey Summer School 2016: an Icon workshop

After loving my time presenting “the Ninth Hour Prayers: Prayer in the Orthodox Tradition” last year, I am honoured and so happy to be going back this year doing some *painting* – I will lead a short workshop on a small icon on glass. You get to take something home with you, as well as listen to me talking you through the meaning of the features of the icon and their use in Orthodox prayer and interpretation in our understanding of personhood/Transfiguration. I am so excited to meet this year’s participants. http://abbeysummerschool.com/home/abbey-2016/workshops/ … [Read more...]

Not a tame lion.. and yet our very own.

One of my great joys as a parent is sharing both my faith and my love of books with our daughter. She is eight this summer and we are now reading chapter books together. She reads widely but we make it a rule to always have a story at bedtime, always. This year, we are reading our way through the Narnia Chronicles by C. S. Lewis. I am using the boxed set my uncle gave me when I was just a little older than her - the box is almost falling apart and the books themselves are fragile, 25 years old and hanging on just enough for us to read one more time. They were my almost constant companions in … [Read more...]

Almost there.

It may be the first week in February but because of an urgent last minute commission, I am about to finish St Columba this week and begin St Kentigern - rest assured that the next newsletter will be out later in the week and photos will follow very soon. In the meantime, I am plotting to get started on periscope - it's an app that allows me to talk live! directly! to you! OR would youtube be better, for those without phones within reach? Do let me know what you'd like to hear about, if you have questions or just want to watch some techniques.  … [Read more...]