Monday, March 10, 2008
Saying "thank you" with an icon
Yesterday was an important day in our kidney transplant saga -- a day for saying “thank you.” We did this by giving a newly-painted icon to our parish, St. Nicholas of Myra Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam, a community which in so many ways gave us support through the long period of my kidney illness. On the day of the actual transplant, the church organized a special service of prayer.
The icon is of four saints, all of whom died in Nazi concentration camps toward the end of World War II. They were involved in a work of dangerous hospitality during the occupation of Paris. They saved the lives of many people, especially Jews. How many were rescued, no one knows, but it is at least a number in the hundreds.
In the photo you see our rector, Fr. Sergei Ovsiannikov, presenting the icon after the liturgy. St. Maria Skobtsova, who founded the house of hospitality and is the best known of the four, stands on the left. On the right is Fr. Dimitri Klepinin, the priest who was her main partner in the community’s work. Also note, on the raised edge of the icon, the smaller figures of two other co-workers who also became martyrs: St. Ilya Fundaminsky, on the left, and St. George Skobtsov, on the right.
The icon is the work of John Reves, an American living in Austria. John has been our guest the last few days, having come to Holland to hand deliver the panel and to be present for its reception by the parish.
For detailed photos of the icon, see those just added to this folder of Mother Maria-related images on our Flick site:
For an essay (“Saint of the Open Door”) summarizing the work started by Mother Maria Skobtsova, see:
For links to other texts by and about her and this amazing community, see this page:
It happens that one of the grandchildren of St. Dimitri Klepinin, Tania, is married to one of the clergy of our parish, Deacon Hildo. Tania and Hildo have recently had their first child, named Maria, after Mother Maria Skobtsova.
The thanks we expressed in our church yesterday is not only to the members of our parish but to everyone who in some way, through prayer or caring thoughts or practical assistance, have helped carry Nancy and me through these last few years and especially through the transplant itself. I hope in time we can make a card of the icon and send it to all the people we want to thank.
(Double-click on the photo to see it enlarged.)