An icon of Saint Mardarije of Libertyville and Saint Sebastian of Jackson will soon appear in the Church in honour of All Saints of North America in Hamilton, Canada. This full-figure icon was painted in the Icon Painting Studio of St Elisabeth Convent at the request of Father Geoffrey Korz, the parish priest of that church. Our Convent has already made the following icons for that church: Image of Christ Not-Made-By-Hands, the icon of the Mother of God of the Sign, St John the Baptist – the Angel of the Desert, St Mary Magdalene, Grand Princess Elisabeth. We are currently working on the images of the newly-canonised saints. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia canonised Bishop Sebastian (Dabović) and Bishop Mardarije (Uskoković) in 2015. The Russian Orthodox Church did the same in 2017.
Artyom Glibchuk who painted the images of Saint Mardarije and Saint Sebastian told us that icon painters differentiate between an ‘icon painter’ and an ‘iconographer’. The former simply copies established images, while the latter creates new images. One has to draw up new images for newly-canonised saints in conformity with the Orthodox theology. Artyom has been painting icons for seven years; it was thanks to his experience that he was entrusted with this project.
“When you see images of people who lived not long ago in church, you feel the living faith and realise that holiness is something that every believer should strive for,” Artyom says. “I’ve painted icons of St Gabriel (Urgebadze) and St Paisius of Mt Athos recently. This time, I’ve been working on the images of our contemporaries who lived in America in the 20th century. St Sebastian of Jackson was the first Orthodox priest born on American soil and an outstanding missionary. St Mardarije of Libertyville was in charge of the Serbian Orthodox mission in the USA. It was thanks to his efforts that the first Serbian Orthodox monastery in North America was established.
Saint Sebastian is portrayed wearing a priestly garment (phelonion) because he was a priest. Saint Mardarije wears a bishop’s vestment: the sakkos and the mitre. Nun Jadranka (Uskoković) from our Convent is St Mardarije’s granddaughter. When she saw the icon of her saintly grandfather, she remarked that the image was almost photographically accurate, even though the icon was strictly canonical.