Prayer and The Life of an Icon

Two lovely pieces about the prayer and life of Icon-writing.

Over at CNEWA, the Romanian Orthodox nun and Icon-writer Sister Eliseea Papacioc visited the New York office of CNEWA and talked a little about process:

“I’m very connected with God when I do this,” she said, “and God is doing everything through my hand. I can’t paint without prayer. This comes from heaven, from the words of God, and if you can’t pray you can’t call yourself an iconographer. The prayer comes in your heart from God. Through this prayer, God gives me this inspiration. It’s like I’m under his protection all the time when I paint, he’s covering me with his wings. I never know how a painting is going to be. I just start a sketch and it just comes to me.”

Sister Eliseea said she’s written hundreds of icons over the course of her life; some can be done in a matter of months, others take years. A large icon of the “Deposition from the Cross” — Jesus being taken from the cross — took three years. It is all a labor of love.

“I’m not a commercial painter,” she said with a shy smile, explaining that she doesn’t keep any of the icons for herself. “I just paint as much as God inspires me. God gives me this gift to give to people, to give away.”

I highly recommend reading this feature piece from a past issue of ONE Magazine, in which Sister Eliseea explains more fully the prayerful process.

Meanwhile, in this video, an Augustinian priest and Icon writer echoes Sister Eliseea; when finished, the icon takes on a life of its own, and the writer must let it go…

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • AnneG

    Beautiful. I love icons. They really are a window into heaven and all the symbolism teaches as it leads to prayer. Beautiful.

  • KyPerson

    I love icons. I have a prayer wall of icons by my workstation (and will as long as they let me). It gives me a glimpse of heaven as I toil on earth.


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