Thursday, June 20, 2013

What do we do with icons? My first icon ~ St. Xenia of Petersberg

Ten years ago a friend took me to
my first Orthodox church.
I quickly felt at home in the loving community
and would stand looking at the iconostasis
at St. Herman of Alaska.
By late fall of that year
I was wanting an icon for my home.
I had no idea where to get them or what to do with them.
My new-to-me-church had a few for sale
on a shelf in the hallway.
Including this one of St. Xenia:

I did not understand why her face was so gaunt and 
to be honest wanted an icon that looked more 
I went to Ontario for Christmas that year
(I was living at the time in British Columbia) and 
this icon of St. Xenia kept coming to my mind,
over and over again.
So, not really knowing why but drawn to this icon,
when I got back to BC and my Church,
I bought it.
Traditionally the first icon of get is of Christ
and soon a parishioner of the church gave me an icon of Christ
for my new icon collection.
But meanwhile,
I remember being at my small studio in the lower mainland,
looking at this icon of St. Xenia.
I did not know what praying with an icon was like
or what to do.
So I just sat and looked at her.
I remember once feeling like I was being pulled
as if almost falling into the icon.
It had a depth I was not aware of.
I told one of my very kind friends that I did not know what to do
with my icon so I sat and looked at her and
was told that this sounded like a very good thing to do.
So my introduction of icons was like that.
And really,
it was a lovely beginning, 
one I cherish.
It as just this past year that I went to Jordanville,
a monastery and seminary of one of the dioceses of the Russian church 
my humble copy that I bought ten years ago
is of:

St. Xenia is a very humble ascetic.
Even her icons are humble and simple adorned.
St. Xenia's prayers for us are very powerful.
She is known to protect families,
help women and men marry the right person,
has protected individuals from what would of been 
harmful marriages and 
is also known for helping people find jobs.
She is very loved in the Orthodox church 
and many people name their daughters after her
or take her name when they become Orthodox.

I got this set of icons,
two hinged together, called a diptych,
of St. Xenia and St. Matrona
on my last monastery weekend visit.
I had been wanting one of St. Matrona for long time,
and the desire had been growing in the last months,
after I saw one for sale at one of my new churches.
So when I saw this diptych I bought it
(it was happily very inexpensive).
The wonderful thing about icons is that they can be
small, can be put almost anywhere in one's house
(the only place one is really not to have them is in the
bathing facilities to put it delicately)
and they do not have to be costly
to be of help to us or to grace our homes.
For those interested, I wrote a post a few years ago
about how icons have come to my home/s over the years.


Xenia Kathryn said...

How beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing this, Elizabeth. St. Xenia was one of my first icons, too, gifted to me along with one of the Theotokos. I've felt close to her (both!) ever since. :)

Amazingly, I just found out my dear friend's sister named her brand new baby Xenia today, too! What a happy day!

elizabeth said...

Xenia K ~ how lovely!!! St. Xenia is such a wonderful Saint for us!!