Vicar's Monthly Letter
Many of you will have seen the icon I made of St George that I posted on YouTube on St. George’s Day (23rd April). If not here is the link which explains how it was made https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8RJ5Wej9Bc
An icon is essentially a prayer, a window into heaven through which we are reminded of the great ‘communion of saints’ to which we all belong. To paint (the correct term is actually to write) an icon is to engage in prayer - and prayer can be challenging. When making an icon I follow a process which has been tried and tested over hundred’s of years. As you will have seen about half way through this process when I have started to apply layers of egg tempera paint, it looks a bit like it’s been painted by a toddler! It all looks very ugly and a complete mess and you may have wondered what you were watching. It’s at this stage that I need to ‘trust the process’ and have faith that what emerges will be worthy of being called a Holy Icon.
The Icon of St. George represents the classic triumph of good over evil. We see the valiant George sat astride his magnificent charger thrusting his lance through the dragon’s mouth. The hand of God conveys God’s blessing on George from the heavens, just in case we weren’t sure whose side he’s really on! And the dragon is cleverly placed underneath the horse, completely and utterly subdued, vainly grabbing hold of the horses back leg with its tail, though thoroughly beaten!
I can remember when I was at primary school celebrating St. George’s Day each year, but these days we don’t seem to have maintained this tradition. These days people are more likely to celebrate St. Patrick’s day! Perhaps George is a little bit too much the warrior for today’s tastes, after all our nearest neighbours patron saints are all Apostles and Bishops (Scotland, Wales and Ireland!) and we in England have a third century soldier, martyred for refusing to recant his Christian faith. Great for inspiring us during times of war perhaps, but not so great for the more peaceful times we live in? St. George isn’t even exclusively ours, we share him with Ethiopia, Georgia and the Catalonian region of Spain.
But, as we find ourselves under lockdown, besieged by an evil we can’t even see, what better Saint to venerate and ask for prayer from at this difficult time than St. George? St. George, as with all the Saints and Martyrs we read about, was a real person and despite all the legends that surround him, he is remembered by the Church because of his extraordinary faith and his selfless and heroic deeds during a very difficult time. I hope we can all draw strength from his example, trust the process and have faith that God will make sense of what may to us at times seem to be a complete mess.
Every blessing, Steven