Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 21, 2009
Creating icons engaged students and Holy Spirit
St. Brendan pupils discover that art work brings them closer to God
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Through theology written in images, using colours and symbols instead of words, students at St. Brendan School learned how the Holy Spirit speaks to them through sacred icons.
"We were learning about icons in religion class and then Mr. (Mike) Bombak said he and his wife did icons and that we might be able to make one too," said Brooklyn Bacon, one of 16 students instructed on how to write an icon of St. Gabriel.
Bacon was happy with the end result. Now she intends to give her icon to Sister Anne Rajotte, a Sister of St. Joseph who works at Assumption Parish and who has been coming to the school since Bacon was in kindergarten to talk to the students about Jesus.
Kim Bombak, using a course designed by master iconographer Marianna Savaryn, showed students the steps to writing these icons.
As with the other Grade 6 students who had never written an icon before and had doubts about how well it would turn out, Luke Duckett was pleased with the result.
"We used gesso (initial coating put on a board before you paint on it) to cover all of the board, and I think we used three coats. It took a lot of time and hard work, but it was fun," he said.
As the pinnacle of the whole exercise, the students and their teacher, Mike Bombak, had their icons blessed by Bishop David Motiuk on Dec. 11. When the icons are blessed with holy water, they become sacred objects.
The students told the Ukrainian Catholic bishop that they enjoyed writing their icons in the traditional style, which took about 10 to 12 hours over a three-day period to complete.
"It was fun making them, and it means a lot to me because they are like windows into the person depicted in the icon.
"It was an experience for getting closer to God," said Elissa Moores, a student who practised the Jesus Prayer while writing her icon.
"I'd say the name Jesus over and over. Some people say 'Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,' and that's the prayer I say. We said that a lot during the painting of the icon," said Moores.
Uncertain whom she will give her icon to, she said, "I'll probably pray about it and whoever sticks in my mind, I'll give it to him."
ICON OF GABRIEL
Motiuk told the students, "We can write icons about Jesus. We can write icons about the saints, and we can write icons about the feast days like Easter and Christmas."
During Advent, they opted appropriately enough to write an icon of St. Gabriel, one of the three archangels mentioned in the Bible, who foretold to Zechariah and also to Mary the birth of the Saviour.
"It's the continuing of an ancient tradition and it's a form of prayer, a way of getting closer to our Lord and Saviour. Archangel Gabriel is the first evangelist who heralded Christ's coming, so he was a good choice for our first icon," said Bombak, who's giving his icon to a seminarian friend.
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