This icon was presented to Bishop Liston in 1969. It is not known how it came into the possession of St Paul’s College.
It is 370mm wide, 500mm tall and is painted on a wooden panel with a gesso base. As with all icons, it is full of symbols -eg, the gold background symbolises the divine nature of God himself and the splendour of the Celestial Kingdom where there is never any night.
Stuck to the back is a letter from Joseph Cardinal Slipyj, Archbishop. It reads:
At last I have been able to send by air-mail the Byzantine-Ukranian ikon(sic) of the Madonna in return for your most generous hospitality and for the unforgettable Kiwi. Please excuse the delay in sending you this but the painter was ill.
I am very happy that our Madonna will be in Auckland.
I have spoken of you to His Eminence the Secretary of State and will tell the Holy Father of the gift.
Yours sincerely in the Lord,
Joseph Cardinal Slipyj, Archbishop.
Cardinal Slipyj became the head of the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church in November 1944. He was arrested by the Soviets and spent 18 years in labour camps for refusing to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church. He was released in 1963 and was sent to Rome where he continued to work for the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church.
If you are interested in icons, the Auckland Art Gallery has a wonderful exhibition of them on at the moment.
Helen Newall – Archives