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Icons of Male Saints

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Male saints and symbols in Orthodox iconography

God's saints came from diverse backgrounds and lived different lives, but all are examples of righteousness and advancement in the likeness of God. For an iconographer, doing justice to their feats is an immense challenge. As Saint John of Shanghai remarked in his famous Discourse on Iconography, an icon must portray the man in an icon as an individual distinct from others and also do justice to their inner struggle in their ascent to God.

One way to keep this delicate balance is through symbolism. For years, iconographers have developed a variety of symbols to represent the details of the saints’ earthly lives and glorify their spiritual feats. Some are general, others more specific. For example, a palm branch is a common symbol of martyrdom. Scripture scrolls represent a saint's accomplishments in preaching the word of God.

Orthodox icons are distinct by their use of inscriptions along with symbols. However, symbolism still plays a prominent role as it helps reach out to those who cannot read the Church Slavonic text. It aids the iconographer in narrating the saints' lives and feats. For example, holy martyrs appear in Orthodox icons with a cross and sainted bishops with a scripture book, a symbol of their tireless preaching of the word of God. On icons, Saints Peter and Paul holding a church building, an allusion to the church hymn that magnifies them as pillars of the church.

So what makes a perfect icon? As Saint John of Shanghai explains, it takes mastery in the use of realistic detail and symbolism to inspire us. An icon should call us to grow in the love of God and pray before it with reverence. “If the image elicits this feeling, it is an Icon,” concludes the saint.

The making of your icon of a male saint

At Saint Elisabeth Convent, our experience of icon painting numbers over two decades. Our satisfied customers live in many countries and include churches, parishes and homes. We invest hours of meticulous effort, learning and research in creating works of outstanding artistic and religious value. An essential ingredient of this achievement is the atmosphere of prayer and contemplation that accompanies the creative process from start to finish.

Our techniques have evolved over centuries within the Byzantine and Russian iconographic traditions. We use tried and tested processes at every stage - from wood base preparation through the laying of stucco layers down to painting and outlining. Our paints are made from ground minerals using egg yolk as an adhesive in a technique known as the egg tempera. The richness and the brightness of our colours will please your eye for many years and decades to come. We cover every icon with a protective layer of varnish to make the colours last and extend your icon’s life. However, we do recommend ordering a kiot for your icon for maximum protection.

You may select an icon of any man saint and choose any variant. Whatever your choice, we are sure it will be a valuable item in your icon collection. We offer a rich variety of icon sizes but will be happy to paint custom-sized icons. Review our product catalogue to choose an item that suits you best. Our associate will respond to your product inquiry to confirm the details of your order, make delivery arrangements and finalise the price. It is our pleasure to serve you!