24 November 2017

Saint Dymphna

Saint Dymphna

I just finished the icon of Saint Dymphna, a 7th century Irish princess and martyr. She was a Christian, but her father, a king, was a pagan. After her Christian mother died, her father searched far and wide for a new wife as beautiful as his first. He listened to the demonic idea of marrying his daughter. Dymphna fled to the continent along with her spiritual father Gerebernus and ended up in present-day Geel, Belgium. There, she founded a hospice for the poor and sick, building it with her royal wealth. Her father was able to trace the coins back to her. He arrived, ordered Father Gerebernus to be killed, then forced his 15-year-old daughter to marry him. When she refused, he beheaded her himself. Her feast day is May 15.

Throughout the centuries, St. Dymphna's hospice in Geel evolved into a place of treatment for the mentally ill from all over Europe. These pilgrims were called as "boarders" rather than "patients" and lived with the town's residents. St. Dymphna is known as a patron saint of mental health and illness.

I used celtic motifs in her brocade and inscribed into the gold, as well as an Irish uncial script. The cross represents her martyrdom in shedding her blood, the green represents her homeland of Ireland, and the white represents her virginity and purity, and can also represent her white martyrdom of leaving her homeland on a self-imposed exile. This icon is based on icons of other royal virgin-martyrs, especially Ss. Katherine (whom we celebrate today) and Barbara. While not royalty, St. Markella of Chios has an almost identical story; she was martyred by her father who wanted to marry her.

31 August 2017

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne (+651) was a monk, missionary, and bishop, who brought Christianity back to the people of Northumbria. He was Irish, and was a monk on Iona who was called by King Oswald to reintroduce Christianity to Northumbria. He founded the monastery at Lindisfarne and travelled ceaselessly to bring the pagan Anglo-Saxons to the True Faith. In this icon, which I recently finished, he is holding the Lindisfarne Gospels, a masterpiece of Hiberno-Saxon art, which was produced in his monastery soon after his repose. The gold background features celtic knotwork.

22 July 2016

Saint Mary Magdalene, Myrrh-bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles

Saint Mary Magdalene, Myrrh-bearer and Equal-to-the-Apostles, was from Magdala near Galilee. Our Lord cast out seven demons which were afflicting her, and she followed Him for the rest of her life. Even when the disciples abandoned Jesus at the Cross, she faithfully stayed by His side. She came to the Lord's tomb to minister to Him one last time and anoint His body. When she found the tomb empty, she ran to the disciples to preach the Resurrection for the first time in history. For this, she is known as "The Apostle to the Apostles."