Teams Icon

The Holy Family Icon

The Icon was created for Equipes Notre Dame by Sr Marie-Paul Farran of the Benedictine Monastery of the Garden of Olives in Jerusalem.  Sr Marie Paul was the Iconographer for over fifty years.  She died in May 2019 at the age of 89.  Her work is continued by Sr Marie-Bénédicte.

Icons have significance in terms of representing relationships between the characters and between heaven and earth.  The Holy Family Icon has important elements revealed in the positioning of Mary and Joseph:

…the great tenderness and confidence,

…the Child carried together, who is at the same time Word of God and fruit of their love;

…the three hands joined together, evoking the covenant of Christ and the couple in marriage.

Colour is what reveals the message of an icon: an ancient object that, born in the cradle of the Eastern Church, over the centuries has preserved precise characteristics and techniques of realisation.  In the images that depict the life of Jesus, there are not many details, yet the gold of the sky is able to represent the divinity, the purple represents sadness, the green represents hope …

The video made by the Christian Media Centre in the Holy Land shows the workshop of the Benedictine Monastery in Jerusalem.

Looking further at the Icon

The Holy Family Icon is a picture of Communion, of the tenderness of God, and of Life.

      • It is, therefore, an icon reflecting the Trinity.
      • It is a picture of the Church, of her espousal to Christ and her fruitfulness which springs forth through the mystery of the union of man and woman and the … (abundance) of their love. (Genesis 1: 27-28)
      • It is an icon of a married couple, wherein each spouse finds his/her own personal identity through each’s diverse gifts and through their union as a couple.
      • It is an icon of each individual being, yet simultaneously one in three.

In addition, many other mysteries of the icon are waiting to be revealed to those who take the time to look for them.  Some of these mysteries are explicit, such as, the attitudes of Mary and Joseph – their great tenderness and confidence, the Child whom they support together, He Who is both Word of God and Source of their love.  The hands of the Holy Family, joined together, evoke the covenant that exists between Christ and the couple in marriage.

We can go even further and enter into the heart of this mystery of the couple, this “icon” of God par excellence, to discover that through the diversity of gifts and of character, each being is at one and the same time man, woman, and child, son or daughter of God, the total “fruit” ascending towards the Light.

The woman symbolizes the heart, the interior of one’s being, and hence her royal robes of purple and red.  One’s total being is in profound harmony when a pure and holy heart reigns over interior chaos and brings forth unity: “You are a kingly people…”

The man symbolizes a priestly character, one’s exterior being.  It is he who offers, who protects, who works, who sacrifices and hence his robe of brown (an earthly color and symbol of asceticism) and of dark blue (a symbol of faith announcing a dawn).

From the images of each of these two beings, expressed as a couple united in love, is born a Child robed in light (cloak of striped orange and gold) and plentitude (white tunic), the fruit of a lifetime.  But the Child is also at the origin of this Life, Servant of this work of God modelled patiently in each one of us.  The Servant bears the yoke on His shoulder (Isaias 42) designated by the shoulder strap or the deacon’s stole.

Consequently, as with every icon, this picture of the Holy Family, this “Word in Image,” is an undying source of reflection.  It tells of God, of His mystery revealed through creation and revelation.  “This mystery is great,” says St. Paul.  It is revealed through a multitude of signs to those who know how to seek, welcome, and open themselves in silence.

Extract from the cover leaf of “Teams of Our Lady – In the beginning”.  Printed on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of The Teams Charter by Teams of Our Lady in United States of America – Fall 1987.

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