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Icon Holy Card

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PCM520 Package of 25 icon holy cards


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Size (in inches):

3 x 5

Item Details:

"I am the vine, you are the branches." This striking metaphor from John 15:5 is used by Jesus to explain the relationship between humanity and Himself. This marvelous icon by Sister Marie-Paul uses the motif to bring together many of the Gospel scenes in which Jesus called people to be His followers.

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

"I am the vine, you are the branches." This striking metaphor from John’s Gospel (15:5) is used by Jesus to explain the relationship between humanity and Himself. This image by Sister Marie-Paul uses the vine and branches motif to bring together many of the Gospel themes and scenes in which Jesus called people to be His followers. The original hangs in the Beit Jala Latin Seminary in Jerusalem.

Theology and Symbolism

The focal point of the icon is a full-length view of Jesus, His hands outstretched in welcome. His feet are humbly bare and His head is surrounded by a gilded halo. Inscribed on the halo is a cross and the Greek letters omega, omicron, and nu. They spell "ho on," or in English, "Who Am," the name of God in Exodus 3:14. Jesus wears a tunic of red to remind us of His humanity, the sacrifice of His blood, and the New Covenant sealed thereby. Over the tunic is a cloak of dark heavenly blue to remind us of His divinity. The fingers of Jesus’ right hand are held in the ancient gesture of blessing; the index finger straight, the middle and little fingers curved, the thumb and ring fingers crossed. They form the letters ICXC, the Greek monogram for Jesus Christ, Iesous Christos. Surrounding the central figure of Christ are six smaller images from the Gospels recalling instances of Jesus’ call to follow Him. Beginning in the upper right corner and moving clockwise we find: "I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in darkness." (John 12:46) And also recalling the words of Isaiah: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2). Next, the scene of the crucifixion, reminding us of the admonition found in all of the synoptic Gospels, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (e. g. Matthew 16:24). The sheaf of wheat in the lower right corner recalls the words, "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few" (Matthew 9:37 or Luke 10:2). The water scene in the lower left shows James and John leaving their father Zebedee, "Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him" (Matthew 4:22). The young beardless youth in red is John, traditionally portrayed as a young man because he was the last apostle to die. The two men in left center are a little more difficult to identify. One of the few easily recognized faces in Byzantine iconography is that of Simon Peter, the one dressed in yellow. The scene is therefore most likely that found in John 1:40-42, in which Peter’s brother Andrew, identified as a disciple of John the Baptist (hence the shaggy hair), introduces him to the Messiah. And finally in the top left, we see the disciples struggling to comprehend Christ’s teachings about Bread from Heaven that have caused many of His followers to turn away. "So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:67-68). The border of the icon is covered in gold leaf. Gold is used in icons to symbolize the divine light of Heaven, the "uncreated light" of Genesis 1:3. ("Created light" didn’t come along until the fourth day, Genesis 1:14.) Written on the border above Christ’s head are the words in Sister Marie-Paul’s French: "Follow Me."

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