Friday, 26 June 2009

Icons in Liturgy and Culture


Patrick Comerford

Christ Church Cathedral is hosting a series of lectures in the crypt on Saturday 27 June to mark the history and relevance of icons down through the years.

The speakers will include Dom Gregory Collins, OSB, author of the Glenstal Book of Icons, Dr Sarah Smyth, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies, Trinity College Dublin; Tim Thurston, the presenter of Gloria on RTÉ Lyric FM every Sunday morning; and myself.

The lectures start in the cathedral crypt at 11 a.m., and have been organised in association with “Icons in Transformation,” an exhibition of the work of the Russian-born artist, Ludmila Pawlowska, with an interesting collection of some traditional Russian Icons.

Sarah Smyth organised a major exhibition of Russian icons in the National Gallery of Ireland to mark the Russian millennium in 1998. In the morning, Sarah will have an illustrated talk introducing the topic: “What is an icon?”

Dom Gregory has taught Byzantine studies at Queen’s University, Belfast, and is a former headmaster of Glenstal Abbey School. He now lectures at the Benedictine university of Sant’Anselmo in Rome. His lecture in the afternoon will be illustrated with icons from the unique collection of icons in Glenstal Abbey.

Later, I hope to look at the Cretan school of icon-writers and their contribution to Western art, particularly through Theophanes the Cretan, Michael Damaskinos and Domenikos Theotokopoulos (“El Greco”).

Throughout the day, Tim Thurston will introduce three musical interludes under the topic “Icons of Sound.” These interludes will include works by John Tavener, Arvo Part, Grechaninov and Rachmaninov.

The lectures will be followed by Choral Evensong at 5 p.m. with appropriate settings by Tavener and Leighton.

Meanwhile, “Icons in Transformation” – the exhibition of Ludmilla Pawlowska’s work, continues in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, until 19 July.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and has taught Byzantine and Islamic studies