Rejoicing in the third major event in as many years, the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church community, enhanced by the presence of its Diocesan hierarch, His Eminence, Archbishop Nikon, celebrated The Blessing of the New Icons on Sunday, October 14, 2018, at the conclusion of Divine Liturgy.
The project of ten full length icons, each measuring 28" x 67", was entrusted to iconographer Cveta Marinova of Sofia, Bulgaria. The first four icons, all studies of early church fathers, were received in August, 2017, while the final six icons, all female saints, were completed in July, 2018. Installed by local businessman, Mr William Bender, the canvas-based icons were applied onto smooth and prepared walls, giving the impression they are frescoes which were painted directly onto the walls.
The catalyst for having traditional Byzantine iconography on the east and west walls came, ironically, after the interior of Holy Trinity was completely painted in September, 2016, as Holy Trinity prepared for its Centennial Celebration the following month. Prior to the painting, many of the existing mounted icons, of various shapes, sizes, and styles, were removed, and what was left were empty walls. While many enjoyed the simplicity, even the starkness, of the bare walls, it seemed as if, since this is an Orthodox Church, that the walls fairly begged for hand written icons, appropriate and beautiful, that would identify the building clearly as a cherished house of God intended for prayer and communion with him.
“This wonderful set of icons is such an incredible addition to our church," HTOC Parish Council President, Webmaster, and professional photographer, Mr Timothy Fetzko, wrote in an email to Ms. Marinova on July 2, 2018. "The size and presence each of them brings, makes an Orthodox believer truly feel like they are worshiping under the peaceful and instructive gaze of heavenly saints.”
Ms. Marinova began her work in December, 2017, and finished the ten icons twenty months later, as she promised she would.
"The results far exceeded our expectations," Holy Trinity pastor, V. Rev. Marc Vranes, said. "In the Book of Hebrews, the writer describes saints as a cloud of witnesses (12:1), which is very appropriate in the case of our icons. Each of the ten represents a person who lived between the first and fourth centuries, when persecutions abounded and many Christians were martyred. I have always been intrigued by the early work of early church fathers, and equally, if not more, by the contributions made by female saints, whose sacrifices were either diminished, or not brought to light at all.
"It was important for the icons chosen to reflect the work of those in the early church. It was also very important to highlight the work of women in the early church. Three of our female saints actually carry the title of 'Equal to the Apostles' for their work in bringing the Christian faith to their home countries. There is, as well, an icon of Saint Mary of Magdela (Magdalene), recognized as the first person to announce the Resurrection of our Lord, and is honored by the church by being named 'The Apostle to the Apostles'.
“It would be unfair if I did not offer a thought on our iconographer, Ms Marinova, whose work is simply masterful," Father Marc continued. "What a joy she was to work with. She was extremely respectful, far beyond what I had a right to expect. Although she and I were both working toward the same goal for just less than two years, there was a sense of melancholy when her work was completed. Cveta had pointed out to me that she had grown particularly close to the six female saints she wrote for our church, and how difficult it was for her to let them go prior to the overseas shipment. I, too, felt a sense of sadness in knowing that our work was completed, and that our journey together was over. On the day the icons were blessed by Archbishop Nikon, I felt a strong sense of Cveta's presence in the church.”
Following are ten icons Ms. Marinova wrote for Holy Trinity:
Saint Ignatius of Antioch
Student of Apostle & Evangelist John the Theologian; 3rd century bishop of Antioch. Wrote much on ecclesiology, sacraments, and the role of bishops. Martyred in 108.
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
Irenaeus’ writings were formative in the development of Christian theology. As one of the first great theologians, Irenaeus emphasized the traditional elements in the Church, especially the episcopate, Scripture, & Holy Tradition.
Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
His episcopacy lasted 45 years (328 - 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian,Church Father, & the chief defender of Trinitarian theology against Arianism.
Saint Justin Martyr of Rome
A Christian apologist, Justin is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century. Justin is considered a saint by the Orthodox,Roman Catholic & Anglican Churches. He defended the morality of the Christian life.
Saint Helen of Constantinople
Co-founder of the Cross of our Lord; Equal to the Apostles.
Saint Thekla of Antioch
Preached Gospel of Lord; Follower of Saint Paul. Equal to the Apostles.
Saint Nina of Georgia
Georgia is considered one of oldest Orthodox lands, dating to the 5th century. Equal to the Apostles.
Saint Catherine of Alexandria
Martyred at age 18. Noted scholar and intellectual.
Saint Barbara of Damascus
Early church martyr; Stills enjoys great popularity.
Saint Mary Magdalene
One of the Myrrhbearing Women whose faithful ministry to the Lord during his early life, allowed her to be the first person to learn that "He is not here, He is Risen" (Matthew 28:6). Apostle to the Apostles.
In concluding the day's events, Father Marc expressed his gratitude to the donors of Phase II of our Icon Project and noted nearly every donor was in church of this festive day. An 18" x 24" plexi-glass plague listing all the donors will soon by hung by our Mr Jon Matcheson, who it must be pointed out, made a new altar for Holy Trinity which was the second major celebration at Holy Trinity
referenced earlier (September 30, 2017).
Click here for a photo gallery of: Holy Trinity's new icons. These photos were taken by HTOC Photographer Mr Fetzko. We are grateful for Tim's continued work to add content and beauty to our church's web site.
Click here to download the: 16-page Commemorative Booklet that has one-page biographical sketches on each of the ten saints, along with information on Ms. Marinova, an article entitled "A Reflection on Icons" written by Father Marc, and a complete list of the Icon Project Donors, was completed to commemorate this day.
A special thanks to Denise & Jason Geeza and Barbara Lacey who decorated the church with flowers, to Merci Matcheson who make a stunningly beautiful blessing brush out of a bouquet of flowers which was used by the Archbishop to bless the icons with Holy Water, to all those in our choir who sang so beautifully, to our visitors who traveled and have always supported our work at Holy Trinity, and to our own parishioners who are passionate about our church and make every Pot Luck Luncheon at these celebrations, a meal to remember. Many Years.