A Most Wonderful Blessing
All Saints Fulham, London
Sunday the 8th July at All Saints Church, Fulham, London, the two large icons I had been commissioned to write were blessed and installed. What a wonderful dedication service it was and included a marvellous altar frontal for the lady chapel designed by Jacquie Binns.
It was a nine thirty service and as we entered the bells were ringing and the choir was practising.
They sang so beautifully: Locus iste a Deo factus est: inaestimabile sacramentum. Irreprehensibilis es. Later they also sang Bogoroditsye Dyevo (Rejoice, O Virgin – the Russian liturgy of Vespers, to Rahkmaninoff). This last moved me to tears as it is one of the chants I listen to whilst working on the icons. Everything was so thoughtfully and carefully prepared for this day of dedication.
This amazing church was filled to capacity as the service began and Canon Joe Hawes introduced the order of the morning and Bishop Edward Holland who had been found at the last minute as Archbishop Walter Mukhulu had to travel abroad. Joe explained during his sermon that he had asked one of the London Orthodox priests (whose name I dare not write as I have forgotten it and will undoubtedly spell it wrong- will someone please let me know and I will insert it?) for the blessing for each icon as he had heard there were specific ones for the Christ Pantocrator and Virgin Hodegetria. The Orthodox priest told him he could have the blessings but in reality the icons are blessed by the prayers and blessings of all the people who worship God before them, that is the true blessing of an icon. I found that very touching and it will remain indelibly marked in my mind for future reference.
Canon Joe Hawes before Christ.
Before the service I met the commissioners in front of the two icons which were placed by the altar at the start of the service ready to be transported to their place of installation on the back of the pew screen at the entrance to the nave. They had not seen the finished icons and were standing completely and utterly captivated by them. Everyone loves them and as I had been filled with grief at parting with them the previous week, I was now overjoyed at the reception and love towards them that all the members of the church showed. This is a special place and they will be very at home here. I knew it was special the first time I met Joe. He has a remarkable capacity to encompass and enfold each and every person with whom he works with and it comes over as a uniquely cohesive and warm atmosphere amongst the whole congregation. There is a distinctive family feeling in the church and he, himself, commented that his first initiation to this feeling of warmth was the welcome he was given by a gentleman called Harry Potter the first time he came to the church. Harry is now late and his dear wife Peggy, son John and daughter Elaine commissioned the icon of Mary. Another couple, Philip and Sandra Gee commissioned the icon of Christ as a thanksgiving for the church they loved as they have now moved away. All these people spoke of their love for All Saints.
Myself, John, Peggy Potter (seated) and Elaine plus another member of the congregation on right – before Mary.
Getting ready to take the icons down to be blessed – Hugh on the right and Tina bearing the candle.
Please do follow this link to Hugh’s blog and see the icons properly installed as they refused to be pushed in on the runners on the day and were balanced precariously on the edge!
A great big thank you to Joe and Edward; Ruth who was leaving that day and had been a fabulous and friendly administrator and especially to Peggy, John, Elaine, Philip and Sandra and all those who spoke to me afterwards with great love for their new icons. I was overwhelmed.
And a final thank you to Colin who helped me transport the icons, has been my bodacious best friend through a testing time these past months, kept me laughing with his Essex nonsense and daily texts of God’s Word each morning followed by babe instead of amen! He has loved icons ever since I started working at St. Mary’s last year and has now begun to write his own. Fabulous.
Meditation for the Virgin Hodegetria with a special dedication to the wise women of wisewomenunite.com in America.
This entry was posted on July 9, 2012 by apocalypseicons. It was filed under Artist in Residence, Commissions, Events, press etc and was tagged with All Saints Fulham, blessing of icons, Christ Pantocrator, dedication, Harry Potter, icons, Orthodox, Virgin Hodegetria.