Triumph of Orthodoxy

   by Mark Schaefering    Leave a comment  →

84-580x381In the Orthodox Church the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Triumph of Orthodoxy is observed. “What is the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy?” you may ask. It is the commemoration of the restoration of Icons for the veneration of the faithful ending forever the Iconoclastic Period of the byzantine church. The Iconoclastic Period being the time during the eight and ninth centuries when the byzantine emperors banned the veneration of the painted images of Christ, his mother and the saints.

As we had a blizzard on last Sunday and I was not able to get to church, I was contemplating the commemoration. I was thinking about what a simple and natural thing it is for us Orthodox Christians to venerate and show respect to the images of Christ, Mary and the saints in painted form. What would the church be like if we were banned from owning icons. I guess those that lived through the Soviet Period in Russia could tell us a thing or two about that. If you were caught owning icons during the iconoclastic period what was the punishment? Many kept icons and venerated them in secret, including St. Theodora. She was the emperor’s wife and mother of the heir to the byzantine throne. When her husband died and her son became emperor she became his regent and seized the opportunity to change the wrong. She struck down the ban and called an ecumenical council to answer the question forever whether image should be allowed in the church and it life of piety.

So these are just a few ramblings of an iconographer who has devotion to St. Theodora.

Welcome Post

   by Mark Schaefering    Leave a comment  →

Hello!!!  I am Mark Schaefering and this is my first blog entry.  I am an iconographer in St. Louis, Missouri.  I paint byzantine icons and also teach classes.  I am rather new to this profession.  I worked in banks for 25 years and then as a florist for 6.  I had attended a few classes to learn byzantine iconography taught Philip by Master Iconographer Zimmermann when due to the downturn in the economy I lost my job at the florist where I was working.  So to reinvent myself I began developing my knowledge and ability in iconography.  At the urging of a student who had also attended some of Phil Zimmerman’s classes I began teaching a small group of women here in St. Louis and the rest, as they say, is history.

As I write this first blog entry I am attempting to paint an image I have never attempted before.  I am painting St. John of Kronstadt.  John of Kronstadt was a very important figure in Orthodoxy in Russia prior to the Revolution.  He was a married priest who lived with his wife Elizabeth as “brother and sister”.  He became well known for his sermons, his dedication to the poor and those who were ill and for the ability through his prayers to call down God’s healing upon those in need.  during the time St. John lived it was uncommon for the faithful in Russia to commune often.  Through St. John’s writings and preaching St. John encouraged frequent and it is why in his icons he is shown holding a chalice in his left hand and pointing to it with his right.

More to follow as I progress.  St. John of Krostadt intercede to Christ for us that he may save our souls.