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Storm on the Sea of Galilee

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ZPCA504
Personalized holy card
30 piece minimum.

$0.35


packages, =

cards
$18.50

Size (in inches):

3 x 5

Item Details:

This very dramatic icon shows Jesus asleep in the boat, Peter pleading with Him to save them, and John huddled in fear. See Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, or Luke 8:22-25. The image is a wonderful aid to prayer and meditation because we can so readily identify with both disciples!

Icon holy cards are 3" x 5", a convenient size for use as gifts or bookmarks. The backs are blank except for a faint colophon at the bottom, leaving plenty of room for custom imprinting with your own message.

Image Origins

All the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, include the story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Here is Matthew’s version (8:23-27, NRSV translation):
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"
Our reproduction is of a new composition by Brother Claude. He did not draw upon any traditional patterns, but the work is definitely iconographic in style. There is another icon of the storm dating from the eleventh century; a fresco in the church of St. Orso in Aosta, Italy. It shows Peter and his brother Andrew rowing furiously, the sleeping Jesus, and all other ten apostles beset by wind and waves in a boat of very similar shape. Claude has reduced that level of complexity to this simplified essence.
This icon is unusual in another regard, painted directly on wood rather than upon a layer of gesso. Normally, the iconographer prepares the wood panel by applying multiple layers of a mixture of glue and either chalk or powdered alabaster known as levkas in Russian, or "gesso" (pronounced "jess’-oh") in the west. This material provides a smooth, white, and easily bonded-to surface. Brother Claude applied the paint directly to an untreated board in this icon, taking advantage of the grain pattern in the wood to add drama to the design.

Theology and Symbolism

Dark clouds race overhead. Huge waves overtop the gunwales. The boat pitches at a sickening angle. How easily our problems and troubles overtake us like a storm at sea when we forget to let Jesus take charge of our lives!

The Apostle Peter is depicted in the usual iconographic manner with curly hair and beard. He stands in the boat, pleading with the Lord to awaken and save them. His cloak flares behind him in the wind, suggesting angelic wings, although we know from the Gospels that Peter was much too human to be angelic! The other Apostle huddling in his cloak and looking very frightened is identified for us in barely visible writing as St. John the Evangelist, "the disciple Jesus loved." He is traditionally shown as a young man in iconography because tradition says he was the last Apostle to die.

Jesus is dressed in the traditional garb of red tunic and blue cloak. His cloak, called in Greek a "himation" is dark blue signifying the mystery of His divine life. His tunic is red to signify His human blood shed for us all. Christ’s halo, the iconographic symbol for sanctity, is inscribed with a cross and the Greek letters; omicron, omega, nu; spelling "HO ON." (The "nu" is hidden by the boat.) In English, this becomes "Who Am," the name used for God in Exodus 3:14: "I Am Who Am."

We all have experienced times in our lives when we felt like Peter in this scene, pleading for help and hearing no answer. We all have experienced times when we felt like this portrait of John, overwhelmed by our worries and problems. Pray for awhile with this icon, place yourself in the scene, lay your troubles at the feet of the sleeping Jesus. Then hear His words, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Our Lord Jesus Christ is God, so powerful that even the winds and waves obey Him. Yet He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. Let Him calm your storm.


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