“I’ve been given so much this retreat, I feel so blessed!” (anon 2016 feedback)

In the Icon Studio

Friar Alessandro at S Damiano

Assisi 2016: The fifth annual, 12-day Icon Painting Retreat took place this year for the first time in early September and was fully booked, with participants travelling from as far away as Singapore, the USA and Sweden, as well as the UK. Whilst half the group had painting experience, all coincidentally had studied or were studying religion or theology. A clever bunch!

Highlights for this year’s group included hearing the sung evensong by the Sisters at S Chiara for on the Feast of the Cross and having our icons blessed (with a lot of rose water) in the Basilica at La Verna.

The biggest treat however was hearing the exceptionally gifted and internationally acclaimed Friar Alessandro sing at San Damiano one evening in a free concert! This included a premier of a wonderful version of the Canticle of the Creatures, accompanied by medieval instruments.

Everyone in the group successfully worked with the 12th -13th century techniques and completed their icons of St Francis or St Clare in the Italo-Byzantine style in exceptionally good time. Several folk even completed a smaller, second icon.

A few of the group undertook the long train journey to Florence on their free day and were thrilled to see the original St Francis vita panel in the Bardi Chapel at S Croce, which they had just completed a small scale version of for their own icons.

The only sad thing to note was the presence of the new security check-point with armed soldiers at the Basilica di San Francesco, reminding us all not only to pray more for peace – but that when we have peace, it needs to be worked at.

Icon Blessing in the Basilica, La Verna

Visiting the Bardi Chapel,
S Croce, Florence.

Come up to me on the mountain [Ex 24:12]