Icon prompts prayer, reflection during Year of Mercy

| November 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

Courtesy St. Croix Catholic Iconographers Guild

A Year of Mercy-inspired icon has been visiting parishes around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and will be featured at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis Nov. 20 for the closing Mass of the Year of Mercy.

“Mercy, Christ the Teacher” is the work of Stillwater-based St. Croix Catholic Iconographers Guild. Measuring 4-feet by 5-feet, the icon depicts Christ blessing with his right hand and holding an open book in his left hand. He stands before a jeweled door that symbolizes the door people are invited to enter to receive Christ in their lives, described Judy Symalla, 52, a parishioner of St. Michael in Stillwater who formed the guild two years ago. The door has additional significance — it represents the Holy Doors of mercy.

Symalla, who started iconography in 2013, said many people with a critical eye have expressed joy and remarked on the icon’s beauty upon seeing it.

Master iconographer Nicholas Markell of Stillwater designed the image, and about eight local guild members — including Symalla — began the work in January and finished at the end of September. Last month, Pax Christi in Eden Prairie featured the mercy icon among a gallery of others by guild members, who comprise approximately 100 from around the country. The icon is currently at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton.

“Icons are meant to be sent — that’s the whole idea,” Symalla said. “They’re not meant to be hung on the wall. They’re meant to be portable, and given and have a life. And this icon of Christ has a life — it will have a full life by the time it finds a permanent location.”

Symalla, a homemaker, noted how an icon is a prayer in and of itself. Writing the icon has served as her Year of Mercy observance. Guild members took on the project as a way to participate in the Year of Mercy.

“Days can go by where we just kind of go on with life, but if you’re working on a project that keeps reminding you it’s the Year of Mercy, you focus on that,” she said.

Parishes interested in hosting the icon or acquiring it as a permanent part of their liturgical setting can contact the guild, http://www.stcroixiconography.org.

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