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St. Scholastica

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PCC515 Package of 25 icon holy cards


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3 x 5

Item Details:

Saint Scholastica is the founder of the Benedictine religious order for women. She was born around 480 in Nursia, Italy and died at Monte Cassino in 543. Her feast day is celebrated on February 10.

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

Nearly all that we know of the life of Saint Scholastica is contained in six paragraphs from the Dialogues of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, written about fifty years after her death. Pope Gregory’s work was intended to inspire and educate his readers and leaves much to be desired as a biography. Tradition identifies Saint Scholastica as the founder of the Benedictine religious order for women. She and her twin brother Saint Benedict were children of a Roman nobleman. They were born around 480 in Nursia, Italy and died at Monte Cassino in 543. Her feast day is celebrated on February 10. There is no ancient design upon which to base an icon of this saint. Nor are there portraits that have come down to us. This modern composition by Sister Mary Charles draws upon many motifs, however, from traditional Byzantine icons. The gilt halo, the stylistic face and the lack of highlights and shadows clearly separate this type of iconographic art from other forms of artistic religious expression.

Theology and Symbolism

Chapter 33 of Gregory’s Dialogues tells of a miracle wrought by Saint Scholastica. She and her brother were accustomed to meeting once a year in a building outside the gate of Benedict’s monastery. After a pleasant visit and supper, she entreated her brother to remain and continue the discussion into the night. He demurred, not wanting to violate his own monastic rule by failing to return to the Abbey. Scholastica prayed to God, whereupon a strong storm sprang up that prevented Benedict’s departure. She demonstrated for Benedict, Gregory and us that the power of God’s love transcends human rules.

Scholastica is dressed in a traditional Benedictine monastic habit; black robe, black veil and white wimple. The icon uses shades of dark blue in place of black to lighten the mood of the image. Her hands are clasped to her heart, reminding us of her great love. Her head is wreathed in a halo of gold leaf indicating sanctity. Her face is drawn in the Byzantine manner with large, soulful eyes gazing within or toward the infinite, long and noble nose, and small mouth closed tightly in spiritual contemplation. Through the window over her right shoulder we see a dark sky, rain and lightning recalling the storm of Gregory’s story. There are no highlights or shadows in the world of icons, not from lack of artistic sophistication, but to represent the divine “uncreated light” of revelation. The dark earth-tone red of the border is a commonly used color for icon edges and serves to remind us of the blood of Christ’s sacrifice, the source of all sanctity.

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