Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 4, 2002
Icons come to retreat house
Star of the North has icon-studded conference room
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
The desire to introduce the richness of the East to a primarily Western audience prompted Father Erik Riechers to create a sacred icon lecture series called Window and A Word: Icons and Sacred Scripture as Paths into the Heart of Mystery.
A member of the Pallotine community in Red Deer, Riechers said. The founder of his community, St. Vincent Pallotti, had a great love of the East. "All things to do with the Eastern churches are close to the heart of Pallotines."
Riechers' talks centre on the nine festal icons that have references in the sacred Scripture.
Festal icons depict a central feast day of the Church: that's why they feature not only one person as opposed to some icons representing single individual like Christ, the Virgin Mary, St. Nicholas or St. John Chrysostom.
The background to any icon is always gold because it is not like an ordinary picture or painting. "It is supposed to be a window into mystery," explained Riechers. "Therefore the background of an icon is always traditionally in gold so that (one) is looking into the golden glow of paradise."
Riechers' comments come following his blessing of the newly renovated, icon-studded conference room of Star of the North Retreat House, Jan. 16. Thirteen festal icons donated by Red Deer's Pallotine Faith Enrichment Centre grace the room's walls.
In genuine iconography, the iconographers do not paint the background, but actually plate the background with gold leaf and so the conference room is painted in a gold tone.
Sandra Prather, retreat house director said, "It is almost like entering into a whole icon."
A stained glass icon of Christ Pantocrator greets everyone who enters this meeting room. Brenda McLachlan of Sherwood Park crafted the piece.
The artist has completed commissioned works for different churches, but none of them depicted Christ. "I just felt that it's time in my spiritual journey that I created a piece depicting our Lord," McLachlan told the WCR.
She drew her inspiration for her creation from a mosaic she saw of Christ's image in the ceiling of Cefalu Cathedral in Sicily.
For more about Riechers' talks on festal icons, call 459-5511.