why buy an icon?
Icons are religious works of art, used in many branches of Christianity but especially in Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions. The purpose of these images are not only to be beautiful, but to provide a focus for prayer and devotion.
Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, our student and staff community at the University Chapel have been holding the people of Ukraine in prayer. Through Dr Lidiya Losova, British Academy Fellow in Theology and Religion, we have become aware of the work of Icon Painting School 'Radruzh' at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, and have been given the opportunity to purchase a work by contemporary iconographer Volodymyr Baytsar, inspired by a Ukrainian icon from the 17th century.
The icon will provide a beautiful focus for reflection in the Mary Harris Memorial Chapel.
a little about the university chapel...
The Mary Harris Memorial Chapel, at the heart of Exeter's Streatham campus, is accessible to students, staff and members of the public as a place of peace, stillness and reflection. In term time, weekly services take place in the Chapel, and it is used for a range of musical and cultural activities. It is home to a range of artwork purchased at various times in its 65-year history, including significant works by Elaine Goodwin, Moelwyn Merchant and Norman Yendell, which form part of the University's art and sculpture walk.
a little more about the icon itself
Baytsar's icon, based on a traditional Byzantine icon, depicts 'Christ Enthroned in Heavenly Glory.' The icon represents the Son of God in the fullness of His divinity and humanity.
On the one hand, He is depicted as the Lord of both the Old and the New Testament as seen in the visions of ancient prophets and Christian mystics. He is enthroned in the heavenly glory, surrounded by the innumerable hosts of angels and the four ‘apocalyptic beasts’. They are presented in the geometrical shapes: sphere/oval, rectangular, triangular flames of fire. These unrealistic, abstract representations underscore the otherworldly, apocalyptic nature of this image.
On the other hand, “the One seated on the throne” (Rev. 21:5) is the very Jesus – the incarnate Son of God who died, rose from the dead and ascended in His human flesh to the throne of the Father.
The icon represents Christ as one who meets with the world in human flesh, who knows human suffering, even in times of war. But also as one who holds the cosmos, and who will ultimately bring redemption to a suffering world. This feels, therefore, very appropriate to the situation that we continue to hold in prayer.
You can hear more about the icon at a special Choral Evensong on Wednesday 15th November at 5pm in Mary Harris Memorial Chapel. The service will feature music sung by our Chapel Choir, and Ukrainian soprano Iryna Ilnytska, and a short talk about the icon itself from Dr Lidiya Losova.
Where will the money go?
It is envisaged that purchase of the icon will be approximately £750, with £250 set aside to cover potential transportation costs.
Find us here
You can learn more about the ministry of the University Chapel here https://www.exeter.ac.uk/students/chaplaincy/christian/anglican/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We would really love to see this icon in our University Chapel so please do spread the word, and do come to Choral Evensong on Wednesday 15th November at 5pm to hear a little more about the icon.