With church buildings closed, there’s not much demand for new artwork for display in empty halls, but still iconographer Joseph Malham has been hard at work during the coronavirus shutdown, writing a beautiful new icon of Jesus titled “Christ the Healer.”
Catholic News Service reports that the wonderful new piece of sacred art measures 3 ft-by-4 ft and took Malham about three weeks to complete. He explained that the icon is meant to bring comfort to all those who have been affected by COVID-19, from medical professionals to those who have contracted the virus and their loved ones. He said:
“Like the rest of the world, I thought, ‘I can sit around listening to my own fears and anxieties and uncertainties or I can do something creative. That’s when I came up with doing this for the sufferers of COVID-19.”
Malham noted to CNS that the writing of “Christ the Healer” was particularly challenging, because he did not have access to the traditional materials used for the ancient Christian process. He said that the board was scrap wood, in lieu of gold leaf he had to use simple gold paint, and similarly without access to gesso — the standard base ground of most icons — he had to make do with plain white paint.
The image of Christ seems to be saddened by the sickness he is witnessing and he looks directly at us as he joins our suffering.
Malham’s work caught the eye of Auxiliary Bishop Mark A. Bartosic of Chicago, who wrote a prayer to be released in tandem with “Christ the Healer.” He shared the prayer for intercession during times of sickness on the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago’s Facebook page:
O Lord and Master of life! Temple of that Spirit who ponders the deep things of God, Pierce the gloom of these days With the radiance of your gaze. Strengthen our hearts for battle Give courage to your sisters and brothers Who stand, as always, in need of healing. Intercede for us with your Father, Who are blessed for the ages of ages, Amen.
Commenting on the icon, Bishop Bartosic told CNS:
“We always stand in need of healing,” Bishop Bartosic said. “Even when we’re not in a pandemic. We don’t always realize it until there’s a crisis. What we’re asking for now is what we should ask for every day of our life.”