Creativity has always been a part of Salvatorian Sister Francine Kosednar’s life even during her many years as an occupational therapist. Now, her latest creative pursuit has led to a copy of her first icon adorning the cover of the 2018 Salvatorian Jubilee invitation. The image is an icon known as the Trinity, representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Religious icons are representations of a greater person whether that be our Savior or one of the saints in heaven. When speaking of icons they are often referred to as written or prayed, rather than painted. Sr. Francine rewrote the original Trinity icon written by Andrei Rublev (1360-1430).
Sr. Francine, who celebrates her 60th Jubilee this year, first became interested in icons in 1983 while on sabbatical in California. She says, “I met a former monk who was writing original icons. I was helping him get them ready to sell. At that time, I was hoping to write one but I couldn’t.” She explains, “Iconographers have the ability to pray and write at the same time. A real iconographer can write new icons. They have the gift to be able to create it.” Sr. Francine still does not know if that gift is one she possesses.
It was not until August 2016 that Sr. Francine took her first class in iconography. She happened upon the class by chance after paging through a brochure for the Siena Retreat Center. She thought to herself, “Maybe this is God telling me that I should pursue iconography,” so she immediately called and joined the class. Under the tutelage of iconographer Drazen Dupor, she spent one week praying and learning the process of writing an icon. It took her eight to ten hours to complete the Trinity icon that was chosen for the group.
Sr. Francine and her classmates used a process that has been used for years, with the colors having significant meaning. The order of worship for the upcoming Salvatorian Jubilee celebration features a full explanation of the Trinity icon.
In the form of three angels, the Holy Trinity wears garments varying in color and symbolism. The scene depicted in the icon is from Genesis 18: 1-15 when Abraham and Sarah are visited by the three angels:
“And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground (King James Bible, Gen. 18. 2).”
When asked about her passion for iconography, Sr. Francine describes herself as a neophyte. “I felt privileged to be able to write or pray an icon with my skills. It is not the same as an original. I’m not that spiritual to do an original. It is a very holy experience. It’s difficult to explain.”
According to Sr. Francine, writing an icon feels different from viewing an icon that someone else has written. She says, “It was the love of the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit. It’s a love relationship. It is the same the Father gives to all of us. The Spirit became significant to me in that He enlightens all, shines through all. It is the communion of persons.”
Sr. Francine looks forward to another class on icons with the same instructor in August at the Siena Retreat Center. The class will be writing the icon of Our Lady of the Sign.
by Kaitlin Seebruch, Communications Intern