The icon contains a rich array of symbolism that helps a person meditate on the beauty of family life.
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Among the many preparations for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland, organizers commissioned a special icon of the Holy Family to be a focal point of the celebration. For the past year this icon has traveled throughout Ireland and has inspired many by its beauty.
The icon was constructed in a traditional “triptych” fashion, featuring three main panels and two doors that protect it. The icon was written by iconographer Mihai Cucu, who was assisted by the Redemptoristine Sisters of the Monastery of St. Alphonsus, Iona Road, Dublin.
The outside of the doors feature the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, bowed down in adoration and service of God.
Below the doors the icon features the Latin words “Amoris Laetitia,” the title of Pope Francis’ post-Synodal exhortation on “The Joy of Love.” This document will be the focal point of discussion at the World Meeting of Families.
Opening the doors reveals a primary panel devoted to the Holy Family. According to organizers, “When the doors of this icon are opened we see in the center the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph seated at table, sharing a meal and sharing their faith. Their faith was celebrated in their home. It is in our home that the reality of God-with-us is communicated and passed on to future generations. Their gathering around the table is reminiscent of the Three Angels in the famous 15th-century Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev. Christian Marriage is sometimes compared with the Holy Trinity, as a communion of the giving and receiving of love that is life-giving. Indeed, the family is called to be the ‘living icon’ of the Most Holy Trinity.”
Furthermore, “the Holy Family have a place at their table for us. They invite us to join them. They are no strangers to the trials of family life. They themselves have been refugees, fleeing the violence of Herod. They have known great anxiety. Hence the radishes and bitter herbs of the Passover meal represent the sorrows and trials of the people of Israel in their slavery also represent for us the trials and sacrifices of patience and love experienced in every family. The presence of the unleavened bread and cup of wine on their table call to mind the Eucharist for us.”
On either side of the central panel are two images from the Gospel narrative. The left features the Raising of Jairus’ Daughter and the right the Wedding Feast at Cana. Both episodes reflect the love Jesus has for family life and the struggles that families endure.
When the icon was completed, a special prayer of blessing was composed that features the great symbolism of the icon and invites all those who gaze upon it to do so in a spirit of prayer, offering up their prayers for the family. Below is a brief portion of it:
May this icon draw us to the Holy Family
who invite us to their table.
May it help us contemplate your saving Gospel
and see in the Wedding Feast of Cana
and the Raising of Jairus’ daughter
your look of infinite compassion
upon all the concerns of marriage and family life.
May those who pray before this icon
find the comfort of your grace
and your help in their every need.
We ask this through the bounteous love
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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