Mary MacKillop an Icon

This icon of St Mary of the Cross is my most recent icon.It is painted in the traditional manner of egg tempera on agessoed board. Egg tempera is a mixture of egg yolk andwhite wine that is mixed with the dry coloured pigments and then applied in a number of layers to the board. Tempera is an amazingly forgiving medium as I find that I have to domany layers to get the detail right. Egg tempera makes it easyto go over the mistakes! The haloes are done in gold leaf and reflect the light so beautifully. Icons are ‘written’ rather than ‘drawn’ because they are a work of theology in visual form. ‘Visio divina’ in other words!

There is so much about Mary MacKillop that inspired me to want to make an icon of her.We are fortunate to have so much information about how she lived and the type of person she was. I have always admired her practical wisdom and her capacity for forgiveness. Shereally was a gift of love and compassion for others. No matter what happened to her, she was able to trust that God was in it with her.

Pope Francis calls for a Church that is poor and for the poor; shepherds living with the smell of the sheep. This sums up the ministry of St Mary of the Cross. As I worked on her icon I was drawn to Mary’s forthrightness, warmth and humour. One story came to mind. It was about the time when she needed help to get  out of bed and the two Sisters assisting, dropped her on the floor. They were mortified, but Mary was shaking with laughter and treated it as a joke. She was the sort of person who engaged honestly with others, but in such a way that those around her were inspired to become their best selves.

Words and photos supplied by Diane Corro (Victorian Josephite Associates: core team member)and used with her permission.

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