Friday, June 13, 2014

Cleaning of the Icons in the Altar

Thanks to a generous donor, we were recently able to professionally clean and restore the icons in the altar area of our main church. The icons are undated, but appear to be from perhaps the mid-1900s. Although there was some minor water damage in a couple spots, the main problem was simply the years of accumulated smoke. Above, for example, you can see a sample square that was cleaned around St. George's face.

This is a "before" photo of the "More Spacious than the Heavens" icon in the apse above the Holy Altar. the time. There is a clear Western, Renaissance influence.

The row of hierarchs sits below the icon of the Mother of God. The hierarchs are traditionally depicted around the Holy Altar as concelebrating the Divine Liturgy. In our case, there are two figures depicted on either side of the altar. All are hierarchs, except--oddly--St. George on the far right side (seen above). This is an elementary theological violation of tradition, since St. George--although a powerful saint--was not a priest, and therefore should not be depicted as concelebrating at the Holy Altar. I therefore suspect that the donor at the time, or perhaps the priest, or even the iconographer, was named George.

Here we have a photo from the cleaning "in progress." You can see that the Mother of God and the left side had gone through the initial cleaning phase.

And here it is at the end.

And here are the saints at the end.

Undoubtedly, though, the most remarkable transfiguration was at the prothesis, or the Table of Oblation. The icon restorer, who is a member of our parish, cleaned the above icon as her own personal offering for the church. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a photograph of it beforehand. But I have stood inches in front of the above icon for many hours over the last two years, and the icon was so covered in smoke that I could recognize almost nothing of it. It was in much worse shape than the others. Now it is as you see it above.

Finally, I asked the icon restorer also to clean this small icon of an angel, which is located on the bottom of the women's balcony that hangs over the entrance of the church. Everyone walks right below the icon, only three feet away from their head, and most have never noticed it because it was so black and indistinguishable. Now it appears as above.

Glory be to God!

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