Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Mother of Perpetual Help

I finished another icon. It is one that I have drawn before. I have drawn it again because it is one of my all-time favourite icons.

It was the first icon I became really well acquainted with many, many years ago.

Catholic churches staffed by priests and brothers of the Redemptorist community have been having devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help every Wednesday for as far back as I can remember. As a consequence, their churches always have an icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

This stems from the fact that one of the popes gave the Redemptorist the responsibility of looking after the original of this icon in the church of St. Alphonsus (their founder) in Rome. Tradition implies that the original was actually painted by St. Luke during his many conversations with Blessed Mary as he was writing his gospel. The one in the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome is not that old, but it is the earliest version in existence.

The other significant connection I have with this icon stems from the fact that the Redemptoristines (contemplative nuns whose order was also founded by St. Alphonsus) were the sisters I lived with for about four years in the late 1970's, early 1980's. These sisters, because of their relationship to the Redemptorist, also had the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in their chapel and a smaller image over the bed in each bedroom.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this posting, I have drawn an icon of this subject once before -- back when I first begin teaching myself how to draw icons. The new drawing is at the beginning of this posting while the older version is just below this paragraph. I, personally, think my technique has improved over these past two years -- what do you think?

In case you don't remember the story behind this icon, it goes like this:

Supposedly, when Blessed Mary was talking to St. Luke about her life with Jesus, the boy, she told him a story about a vision Jesus had one day.

He suddenly saw two archangels (Michael and Gabriel) holding instruments of torture, suffering and death. He was so frightened by this sight that he ran to his mother's arms for safety. In his effort to get to her quickly, one of his sandals almost came off.

Even at that time Blessed Mary had an idea of what the vision meant that Jesus described to her as it built on all the things she had heard and seen over the years. Jesus, too, no doubt knew what the vision symbolized as he always had some understanding of what was going to be required of him.

Blessed Mary looks out at us almost like she is asking "Why does this have to happen to my precious Son?" During those years of living in the convent, I once wrote a song after spending some time in prayer before this image. The song was entitled "Mother Mary, Please Don't Cry".

I am very tired tonight as I had to get up at 5 I think I will be going to bed rather early for a change.

May we all have a restful night and may peace be with you


Anonymous said...

My view is that both versions are beautiful, but I must agree with you that there appears to be a "maturity" to how the newer one appears. But, then I like the soft facial features on the old one. . . . Both are "keepers!"
Hylott in Birmingham

Amra Porobic said...

I agree with Hylott, but I think that the one looks more like icon, less visual, more spiritual.
Who knows how it will look a few year from now...
Keep good health, and keep drawing.