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A lasting gift for prayer and reflection

By: 'Kevin Mark, Kairos' - 30th of November 2008

The Cathedral Church of Mary of the Assumption in Tbilisi, Georgia (Eastern Europe), is adorned with a remarkable collection of 130 icons of scenes from the Bible. This beautiful, hardcover volume reproduces in full colour 30 of the icons, which tell the story of Jesus’ life.


The icons are accompanied by a meditative commentary by internationally renowned Australian biblical scholar, Fr Francis Moloney SDB, as well as relevant texts from the early Fathers.


This elegant volume would make a lasting gift for prayer and reflection.


– Kevin Mark, Review of Life of Jesus in Icons’ by Francis J. Maloney, SDB in ‘Kairos Catholic Journal’ vol. 19, no. 22, 30 November 2008.

...delightful book...

By: 'Br Brian Grenier, CFC, Catholic Leader' - 3rd of May 2009

In his delightful book ‘Praying with Icons’ Henri Nouwen suggests that, whereas listening is central to the spirituality of the Western Christian Church, ‘gazing is probably the best word to touch the core of Eastern spirituality’.


Broadly speaking, the gateway to the divine tends to be the proclaimed word of God in the former case and the same word visually revealed in sacred images in the latter.


The visitor to the Cathedral Church of Mary of the Assumption in Tbilisi, Georgia, will find a wealth of such images. Along its interior side walls, showing scenes from the Old and New Testaments, there are 130 icons – expressions of faith in which a certain rigidity of form (to Western eyes) is softened by richness in colour and a traditional golden background.


Like all good art they have the capacity to turn viewers of the pictures into eyewitnesses of the events they depict.


The volume under review features 30 of these icons which illustrate in chronological sequence the life of Jesus from the Annunciation to the Ascension.


As Australian Salesian Scripture scholar Francis Maloney reminds us in his informative introduction to the book, they indicate ‘the presence of the divine within the human’; for they ‘are not the product of the hand of an artist, but the heart of a believer’.


Each section of the work begins with a gospel passage (in the NRSV translation) relevant to the particular icon being displayed. This is followed by Fr Maloney’s insightful reflections both on the biblical text and on the image itself.


To this commentary is added apposite quotations from the writings of the Fathers of the Church, notably St Ambrose and St Augustine.


In his preface, apostolic administrator of the Caucasus for the Latins Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto remarks, ‘An icon attempts to translate a page of the Bible into the language of beauty’. This attractively produced full-colour hard-bound book, which I recommend as a resource for personal prayer, supports his view.


In the light of the commentator’s introduction to the ‘Life of Jesus in Icons’ it may also provide the reader with a new appreciation of the place of iconography in the service of the Christian faith, especially in the Church’s liturgical celebrations.


– Br Brian Grenier, CFC, Review of ‘Life of Jesus in Icons’ by Francis J. Maloney, SDB in ‘The Catholic Leader’, 3 May 2009.

Icons are part of Christian history.

By: 'Madonna magazine' - 18th of September 2008

Icons are part of Christian history. We associate them instinctively with the Eastern Churches. The icons featured in this book come from a small Western church in Georgia. There, a small Latin Christian minority lives alongside the large national Eastern Church.


The book, which reproduces the images in the Church of Mary of the Assumption in Tbilisi, is an attempt to find common ground between the Churches. The icons decorate the church walls, and tell the major stories of the gospels.


Frank Moloney, the noted Salesian Biblical scholar, contributes an introduction to the significance of icons. He also comments helpfully on the New Testament passages represented in them. To help reflection, each icon is accompanied by passages from the early church writers that describe the gospel stories. These writers had a rich sense of symbolism, and they often take us where description fails us. 


The book will help Western Catholics to reflect on the rich tradition the East has given us through its icons. It will also encourage them to remember the church of Georgia. Icons point us to a world and to hopes beyond our smaller world. So these icons may also lead us to pray for a Christian unity that embraces what is good in all our church traditions.


– Review of Francis J. Maloney SDB’s ‘Life of Jesus in Icons’ in ‘Madonna’, September/October 2008


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