Archangel Michael icon donated to archdiocese of Toronto

  • March 18, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - A window on the Kingdom of God now hangs in the chapel at the archdiocese of Toronto’s Catholic Pastoral Centre.

Icon painter Janusz Charczuk donated the painting of the archangel Michael to the archdiocese. The icon of the patron saint of the archdiocese of Toronto took three months to paint using traditional materials and techniques, including a base of 16 layers of gesso made from marble dust, and hand-mixed colours in egg tempura.

As he blessed the new icon at a noon Mass in the chapel March 12, Archbishop Thomas Collins reminded people that “Beauty begins it — it is the doorway to goodness and truth.”

Roman Catholic himself, Charczuk does not believe icons are the exclusive property of Orthodox or Eastern-rite Christians.

“Icons existed before the church split,” he said. “They were already there.”

It’s not surprising that Western Christians are now embracing the spirituality of icons, said Charczuk.

“We are witnessing the revival of icons for everybody — for Lutherans, for Anglicans,” he said. “The prime reason for icons is not esthetic. It’s spiritual.”

While Charczuk is absolutely wedded to traditional methods in icon painting that stretch back more than 1,000 years, he does make one exception. Where icons up to the 20th century were painted on a slab of wood from a linden tree, Charczuk uses specially prepared plywood, which is far more resistant to warping and cracking as the years pass.

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