The Icon of the Breaking of the Bread

I haven’t done much blogging lately, but have instead been painting as much as possible.  A kind fellow blogger who is also an iconographer offered to teach me some new techniques.  His iconographic style is distinctly Romanian, and my earlier training was Russian, so it was hard sometimes to discipline myself to stick with his instructions and learn this new way.  I was so tempted to fall back into old habits, to do it my old way–but there would be no learning at all if I had done that.

So, I persevered, and my friend and most excellent teacher Cornel Apostol (you may know him from his wonderful photography blog called Words: “A picture is worth a thousand words”) led me patiently through all of the steps.  The icon is nearly complete.  I wanted to have it finished by the Feast of Corpus Christi.  It didn’t happen, and the icon is still not done, but I did want to share it with all of you now, as it has become such a vehicle of prayer and contemplation for me.

The image is of Jesus breaking a loaf of bread.  At first viewing of the original model, I was not really drawn to it.  The Lord’s gesture seemed too forceful, too exaggerated.  But then, as one needs to do with icons, especially ones that challenge, I began to really look at it. To gaze and to pray. It reminded me of something I had seen before.  I believe that it has been patterned after the figure of Christ in a very famous wall painting in the Monastery of Chora in Istanbul.

That image is of the Anastasis: the Orthodox icon for Easter, showing Jesus descending into hell–breaking down the gates in victory over death.  King David, Solomon, John the Baptist and numerous Old Testament prophets stand watching.

The Lord grasps Adam and Eve by the hands, and through them, all of us, bringing them from death into eternal life.  It is the image of salvation, the core of our faith.

And here, in this new icon, the similarly-posed figure of the Lord grasps not Adam and Eve but the bread of the Eucharist.  Our salvation is before us here and now in every celebration of the Mass, of the Divine Liturgy.


About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
This entry was posted in Catholic icons, Catholicism, Christian Prayer, Icon, Iconography, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Icon of the Breaking of the Bread

  1. Ryan M. says:

    This is just fantastic… the forcefulness of the breaking of bread as a reflection of the forcefulness of the harrowing of Hell… “by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body”

  2. Greg Ward says:

    Beautiful and powerful icon – what are your plans for it when finished? You are amazingly talented

  3. reinkat says:

    Thank you. I don’t usually have plans for any of my icons, not as a rule. They are a prayer process for me. Sometimes I have a commission, and thius, a purpose, but mostly I simply pick one that “speaks” to me, and work on it. This particular one I wish I had done on a wood panel, but alas it was intended as a learning tool and is done on a piece of cardboard. I might do it again, properly.

  4. geloruma says:

    Hi I absolutely love this and the insightful reflection, gorgeous work reinkat!

  5. A superb example of a sacred iconographer praying the sacred image into existence. Beautiful and very well done on a theological, semantic, and aesthetic level.
    The forceful image is correct in that it points to Jesus obeying the Father’s request to offer Himself back to the Father for our redemption. The “force” reflects the pulling apart of Jesus’ body during the crucifixion (it is said that Jesus’ right arm was pulled out of its socket during His placement on the Cross).
    Thank you for sharing this latest work with us.

  6. Cornel A. says:

    First of all, congratulations for this beautiful icon!!!!
    We’ve been sharing information about painting this icon for a while and perhaps some of our followers/readers might not understand how hard might be sometimes to do what you read and not what you see.
    When you’re trying to learn how to paint something, it’s very important to SEE, to WATCH someone how is actually doing all the things. If you don’t watch, you may get frustrated so many times(I would say, too many times).
    But, even if we shared information on e-mail using words or photos, God helped us so much!

    I would like to thank Mrs. Reinkat for having trust in me. This is so important, to trust other even if you might have a different oppionion.

    I am very glad of result.

    It’s so important to pray and keep painting even if there are temptations.

    If you, dear reader, are just a beginner iconographer, trust God and He will guide you through someone and I am sure will come a moment to praise Him for your results.

    Ok, perhaps it’s enough, my English sentences might have some grammar issues.

    • reinkat says:

      Thanks, Cornel, it has been a great experience “working” with you from the other side of the world, filled with both challenges and blessings. I cannot thank you enough for the things you have taught me about iconography–and generosity. I hope that we can continue to stay in touch.
      God bless you each and every day!

  7. SR says:

    This is so beautiful!!!! The job you did on this takes my breath away. It seems on this one as if God took your hand, and you and He became one great artist. Love it! God Bless, SR

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