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The Wedding at Cana

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The Origins of This Image

In Chapter two of John’s Gospel is described the scene of Christ’s first public miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. [John 2:1-11] Cana is a small hill town in Galilee, not too far from Nazareth. Jesus transforms ordinary water into wine of exceptional quality at the request of his mother Mary. "Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."

The design of this icon is original with Sister Marie-Paul, following ancient Byzantine principles and applying them prayerfully to this scene, famous in scripture but not included among the traditional icon repertoire.

Theology and Symbolism

In icons that illustrate a scripture story such as this one, the background is represented in a schematic, simplified fashion. This is done to avoid drawing the viewer’s attention away from the important aspects of the event--the people, their actions, and their relationships. The table is crudely drawn, with the top apparently tilted toward us. The chair Jesus sits upon appears to have the rear legs longer than the front ones. Both are examples of "inverse perspective," a visual device used in iconography to draw you, the viewer into the scene. The towers in the background tell us that the scene took place in a city. The red cloth drape across the top is a symbol that the events took place indoors. No highlights or shadows are ever represented in icons to indicate that God’s light surrounds all. The gold leaf background is another symbol of Divine light, gold being used because it reflects and enriches light in a manner so different from paint.

All the persons mentioned in the Gospel story are included or symbolically represented in the image. Seated around the table from our left to right are Jesus, Mary, the groom, the bride, a representative disciple of Jesus, and the chief steward. One servant pours water into the jars while another serves the wine. Jesus and Mary have their heads surrounded by halos indicating their sanctity. Christ’s halo is always marked with a cross and the Greek letters omega, omicron, and nu spelling "HO ON." In English, this becomes "Who Am," the name used for God in Exodus 3:14. He wears a tunic of red, symbolic of His blood shed for us, and a cloak of dark blue, symbolic of the mystery of His divine life. Mary’s hands are raised toward Jesus in supplication as she intercedes with Him on behalf of the married couple. Church tradition has used this Gospel account to reinforce Mary’s power as an intercessor, since she overcame her Son’s reluctance to perform this miracle. The bride and groom are in the center focus of the scene, heads inclined toward each other indicating their love. The disciple is represented with a very large and high forehead, symbolic of spiritual enlightenment. His hand is raised in a gesture of blessing, acknowledging the manifestation of the Messiah’s power. The steward, obviously a connoisseur of fine wine, sits in rapt appreciation of his glass. The servants are drawn smaller than the guests, indicating their relative status.

The Wedding Feast at Cana is the first of seven miracles described in the portion of John’s Gospel known to modern scripture scholars as "the Book of Signs." John’s sequence of events, the revelation of Christ’s glory taking place "on the third day" after the call to Philip and Nathanael, seems deliberately to recall the connection to Christ’s Resurrection on the third day following His death. By changing the water set aside for Jewish rites of purification into the new wine of the Messianic age, Jesus here begins a pattern of transforming the institutions of Judaism into those of Christianity.

 

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Product Specifications

Our icon designs are offered in several formats. Typically we print in four sizes; 4", 6", 8", and 10" on the short dimension. Available sizes and formats for each design are listed at the bottom of the product page.

Icon Reproductions on Wood:

Our icons are available mounted on wood in the traditional manner. The wood is 3/4" thick solid hardwood, typically poplar, with a tee-slot milled in the back for easy hanging on the wall. (The 4" size is 1/2" thick.) The wood is stained a traditional icon red, in keeping with Byzantine tradition. (Ancient icon board edges were frequently coated with red bole, a form of clay). Each icon comes with a descriptive folder explaining the symbolism and history of the image.

Double-Matted Prints:

We also provide icon prints mounted on heavy cardboard and covered with a double mat. The inner mat is navy blue with a 1/4" reveal. The outer mat is an off-white to blend with any decor. The matted prints are sized to fit standard frames, 8" x 10", 11" x 14", or 16" x 20" depending on the print size. Descriptive folder included.

Greeting Cards:

Most of our designs are now available in our popular greeting card format. These are single-fold cards printed on heavy stock, 4.38" x 5.93". The cards are blank inside for your own message or custom imprint and have an explanation of the history and symbolism of the icon printed on the back. They are available singly or in packages of ten, envelopes included.

Holy Cards:

Most designs are available in holy card form. These are a convenient size for use as gifts or bookmarks, 3 1/8" x 4 5/8" on heavy cream-colored paper. The backs are blank except for a faint colophon at the bottom, leaving plenty of room for custom imprinting with your own message. These holy cards are sold in packages of 25.

Sanctuary-Size Icons:

Icons can be a beautiful way to enhance a worship space. All of our icons are available as extra large prints, up to 38 inches wide. The latest technology enables enlargement without sacrificing quality. Call 800-889-0105 for pricing and ordering.


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Proceeds from the Printery House help to support the monks of Conception Abbey and Conception Seminary College, where young men receive an accredited college education as they study in preparation for the Catholic priesthood.


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Phone: 1-800-322-2737
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This site last updated: Monday, October 16, 2017