Saturday, November 19, 2011

St John Marie Baptiste Vianney Patron of Parish Priests

There are several elements of the image that I feel are important to the Icon. The image on the book is the Lamb of God slain for our sins, but risen and victorious over death. This image is on a vestment of the Saint. Reconciliation was a very important element of St John Vianney's ministry.  He spent many hours daily administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The cross on the purple stole is in the pattern of the criss-cross of the confessional window; he spent many hours daily administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation and was a great blessing to those who came to receive forgiveness. The book, representing the Gospels, the image of the Lamb holding the Cross plus the purple stole say everything there is to say - the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world. St John understood perfectly that saving souls by freeing them from the burden of sin is what the priestly ministry is all about.  The priest is another Christ.

An icon is a window into heaven.  The gold represents heaven. Gold reflects light, while all other elements absorb light. What a wonderful image of heaven - it reflects the light of Christ. It is a marvellous demonstration of Gods glory. The light does not come from the halo but balls onto the saint from above – the Holy Spirit who speaks through him.
As we are embracing the new translation of the Missal I have represented this image in the icon. St John Vianney is the Patron Saint of parish priests and the missal was very dear to his heart. He spent much time in teaching catechism classes. St John’s right hand is held in blessing and the symbolic pattern of our doctrine. The thumb and ring finger are joined symbolizing the eternal love of the Trinity, the index and middle fingers are upright symbolizing the divine and human natures of Christ and the little finger proclaims three persons in one God. The mouth of the Saint closed and his ear is open and listening to the word of God.
The preliminary stage of writing an icon. It is a journey of discovery, research, choices, many, many decisions have to be made. How shall I speak of this mighty man. What is the element of his character that is most important to me. While I wrote this Icon of St John Marie Baptiste Vianney I wondered what did he did in his life that made such a monumental difference to the world that made the Church proclaim him Saint. Who is this great man of God.
This gentle portrayal of the Saint, based on the image used in the wayside chapels around Ars, captures the essence of the man, his simplicity and his littleness.


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