A new icon was blessed at the Assumption church (one of the three churches that form the parish of Our Lady of Kirkstall) on Sunday 6th October.
The title of the icon roughly translates as “Mary uniting the Nations”. It is made up of 4 ceramic tiles. The church community commissioned the work from the renowned El Salvadorean Artist Fernando Llort – whose Romero Cross was recently blessed at a special ecumenical service at St.George’s cathedral, Southwark Diocese. It uses typically bright colours and folkloric elements.
It took longer than expected (because the artist was working on the much larger commission for St.George’s cathedral), but the initial reactions are that the wait has been worthwhile and comments have been very positive. Fr.Pat Smythe (parish priest for the wider Our Lady of Kirkstall parish) commented “We have people from over 30 different countries living in our parish. This icon helps to remind us of this global link and I am sure that it will be a striking feature of the Assumption church for many years to come”.
The church has a small grotto from which the statue of Our Lady was stolen. The church was re-furbished a year ago, principally to replace the roof. It was at this time that the idea of commissioning something to connect us to the church in the world was developed. The church supports development projects in El Salvador through CAFOD. The church CAFOD support group suggested trying to source something from El Salvador on a Marian theme. Carol Burns, a member of the CAFOD group, commented, “We have been supporting CAFOD’s Connect2 El Salvador scheme since early in 2011. We contacted Julian Filichowski, who is the chair of the Romero Trust, to ask his advice about how to source something on a Marian theme. It is really through his endeavours that we have ended up with such a beautiful artwork for our church .”
The texturing of the ceramic tiles and the vibrancy of the colours gives a great effect. Mary is shown wearing a ceremonial garment, a Huipil. The all-seeing eye of God is shown above.
The icon was blessed in a ceremony immediately after the homily.
Members of the CAFOD group processed with the icon to the sanctuary where it was blessed and left on display. It will be permanently mounted in the church in the next week or so.
Two members of the Assumption CAFOD group, Marian Emly and Kathy Webb, went to London for the blessing of the Romero Cross. The picture shows Marian and Kathy in front of the Romero Cross with two of the tiles.