CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Sharing faith through iconography

Hong Kong (SE): Exploring Icons with Hong Kong Students, a book on the art of iconograph by Benedictine Sister Esther (OSB) from the United Kingdom, was recently launched in Hong Kong. 
Iconography is the oldest tradition of Christian sacred art and unlike other approaches to painting, the creation of an icon does not begin in the artist’s imagination. Rather, the iconographer’s first work is to study how the subject at hand has been traditionally depicted in this rich artistic tradition. It is a meditative, prayerful painting of an image of Christ, Mary or the saints.  
Introducing this sacred art to Hong Kong Christians was a mission taken up by the Sister Esther in association with Bonfire World, a Hong Kong-based charity organisation for evangelisation.  
She first came to Hong Kong in 2013 to give a weeklong course on iconography. Since then, it has become an annual event for those interested in this art. Since 2014, Bonfire World, together with Sister Esther has organised an annual two-week long workshop on icon painting for the students of Hong Kong. 
The artist-nun belongs to the Priory of Our Lady of Peace in Turvey Abbey in Bedfordshire (a Roman Catholic community living according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and belonging to the Olivetan family of Benedictines). For many years she dreamed of establishing a mutual help and support network for iconographers. In 2001, together with a few others, she formed the British Association of Iconographers.
Exploring Icons with Hong Kong Students, represents the collaborative efforts of Sister Esther and her Hong Kong students to introduce icon painting to the Chinese community. 
Besides launching the new book, the organisers plan a series of events over the course of the month. Three talks on icons are scheduled to be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church on August 2, 8 and 16, from 7.30 to 9.30pm, while there will be a concurrent exhibition at the same venue from August 2 to 19.  Guided tours are available for individuals and groups. 
The exhibition includes an iconostasis from the Church of the Beatitudes in Ibillin Galilee of Israel (the Church of Sermon on the Mount), begun by retired Archbishop Elias Chacour, who strived to bring peace to that country. The archbishop has granted permission for its display in the exhibition.
Bonfire World is working with Father Thomas Law Kwok-fai, parish priest of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, to help spread the meaning and lasting value of icons through the exhibition and the promotion of Sister Esther’s book. 

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