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Our Lady of Sorrows - Jesus Christ Extreme Humility - St John the Apostle - Triptych of the Passion

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Our Lady of Sorrows - Jesus Christ Extreme Humility - St John the Apostle - Triptych of the Passion

Our Lady of Sorrows * Jesus Christ Extreme Humility * St John the Apostle : Triptych of the Passion (Our Lady of Sorrows + 15 September)
“You are the ones who stood by me in my trials...” Luke 22:28
( I made a copy of this triptych for every priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe after the scandal and tragedy of the abuse of children began to come out in 1992, with these words of St Luke on the back. At that time, no no one was thanking the innocent priests who stayed under the Cross ...)
This very early diptych of Jesus and the Mother of God was commissioned by a Jesuit friend whose sister had just been diagnosed with HIV-AIDS. He first commissioned an icon of Our Lady of Sorrows, and then when she passed away, he commissioned The Man of Sorrows sor Jesus Christ Extreme Humility. He was one of my first patrons and the first person to put my work on the internet. Because of his lavish generosity, I decided to look at a Cimabue painted Cross, and found St John the grieving Apostle on the right wing of the Cross. I gave it to him as a gift. And so it became a triptych.
The two prototypes (originals) are found at the 14th century monastery of Meteora, Thessaly, Greece. At their peak in the 16th century there were 24 monasteries high above these ancient rock formations.
And as I mentioned, (from my college Art History classes at Boston University) I remembered the many late medieval Crosses which had Mary and John on the left and right wings of the Crosses. These figures of Mary and John appear in my favorite Crosses by Giotto and his teacher, Cimabue, and just a few years later, I’d be copying both of these deeply spiritual and passionate artists. I can’t express what a joy it is to try and copy great artists, and great iconographers.
I would say, the first ten years I was so grateful, happy and excited that I painted almost non-stop. My teacher demanded this work ethic, and I am eternally grateful to him, because by myself, I would never have thought I could give myself so completely to another vocation. After 33 years, I’m now trying to paint images and icons of people that have had a great influence on my life, people maybe some of you have never heard of, but by meeting them through books or providentially, they encouraged me to continue.
Sometimes there are people I’d love to do (for example, Mahatma Gandhi, or St Dominic, the Apache or Masai Christ, the Navajo Madonna on and on and on) but my teacher (Friar Robert Lentz) has done them so magnificently, I always point people to him. When I began, in October 1990, he told me there were probably around 15 people working on icons, now there must be over 1500, at least.
I truly believe it’s because of Robert Lentz, who singlehandedly created this renaissance of interest in icons, in the 1980’s. I say this because he was the first iconographer who figured out how to make modern clothes like skirts, dresses, pants, shirts etc, into “iconographic clothes,” so even those who openly disrespect him, must copy him. And he was the first to create icons of people’s of all races, not only black and white people, but all races. All the young iconographers are indebted to Robert.
In these times of rampant disrespect, in these times when mockery and violence are we get closer to the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, it’s essential (and healthy) to contemplate the Mother of all nations and peoples; asking her how we her ever-children, can move closer again. Because of its continued relevance,
I’m going to recall the prayer used to open Vatican Council II on 11 October 1962 :
“Almighty God, we have no confidence in our own strength; all our trust is in you. Graciously look down on these pastors of your church. Aid their counsels and their legislation with the light of your divine grace. Be pleased to hear the prayers we offer you, united in faith, in voice, in mind.
Mary, help of Christians, help of bishops; recently in your church at Loreto, where we venerated the mystery of the Incarnation, you gave a special token of your love. Prosper now this work of ours, and by your kindly aid bring it to a happy, successful conclusion. And do you, with St. Joseph your spouse,the holy apostles Peter and Paul, St. John the Baptist and St.John the Evangelist, intercede for us before the throne of God.
To Jesus Christ, our most loving Redeemer, the immortal King of all peoples and all ages, be love, power and glory for ever and ever.
Pope St John XXIII, 1962
Fr William Hart McNichols 🍃 September 2023
(If you should feel called to pray with this triptych, it can be ordered in this way, or as individual icons. Our Lady of Sorrows is my sister Mary’s favorite icon)