The Icon of Edmund Rice
An Icon (from the Greek icon likeness, image, and figure) is simply an image of a person. In religious art this image is a spiritual one, in that the icon may not physically resemble the person portrayed, but tries to connect us the spiritual mystery of that person. By the splendid materials and brilliant colours the iconographer puts down in symbols the spiritual journey and achievements of the person. So an icon has to be pondered for some time if we are going to be able to grasp its messages. It has to be seen with the interior eye, much the same as a symphony requires being listened to with and interior ear.
The Icon of Edmund Rice was created by Irish artist Desmond M. Kyne and was unveiled in Liverpool, England in1986. The original is about the size of a household door. There are about 20 if these and 100 of a smaller size. Each is hand-crafted. Desmond Kyne uses the principles of Byzantine and Celtic Irish iconography. He has devised, through modern technology, a unique process whereby light, falling on to a laser-ruled metal backing, is brilliantly reflected through glass in front, on which the Icon is painted. The Icon literally glows and sparkles in different ways depending on the angle of viewing it. Desmond has also made icons of Our Lady of Knock, Nano Nagle and Pope John Paul II. Several schools of the Christian Brothers have an Icon of Edmund Rice. Colour Prints of the Icon are also to be found around the schools, and the Brother’s communities.
So the Icon of Edmund Rice celebrates through symbolic pictures the holiness of Edmund, and holds him up as someone we can imitate. It could be described as a love story into which are woven joy and pain, the good and evil, the energy and stillness, the success and failure, the agony and ecstasy of Edmund’s journey in life. But this journey is permeated by the everyday, practical spirituality that was so characteristic of Edmund. In tragic Penal Times in Ireland he was an ordinary boy who grew into a successful and astute business man, married and soon suffered the loss of his young wife, being left with a disabled daughter. The plight of the poor ’street kids’ of Waterford won his heart and he felt Christ appealing to him in these lads. When he was 40 years of age he gave his wealth (in today’s terms he must have been worth upwards of five million dollars) for the betterment of the poor. And so the Congregation of Christian Brothers was founded.
The Icon of Nano Nagle
The Icon is permeated with spiritual vitality and joy. It is filled with life, energy, movement and richness. Nano is represented as being eternally young. She is filled with readiness and receptiveness and she permits the powerful energies of God to flow through her. The head is in close relationship to a multi-coloured spiral which is an ancient symbol for Divinity. The wings around Nano signify the Holy Spirit, passing along to the children the seven flames — the seven gifts of the spirit. The arms of Christ sweeps down in a great embrace, gathering all created things to the omega point. A symbol for the heart of Christ is on the front of Nano. It represents the source from which she drew her power and inspiration.
The Sacred Heart is a prominent feature of the Icon, representing Christ’s compassion and love, dominant characteristics in Nano herself. Symbols of darkness and oppression associated with the Penal Laws continue down to the children, who are oblivious of the Paschal Mystery, which flames among them like a wheel of fire. Nature’s symbols of Nano’s birthplace are in the background, the Nagle Mountains, Ballygriffin and River Blackwater. The wild geese are flying away, representing the people who fled Ireland during the penal times. Nano had brought the fire from the spirit down to her world, and its light spreads outwards to encompass the city and beyond.
The College accepts that its community of students, parents and staff comes from within the rural settings of the eastern Riverina regions and as such has a particular perspective on life and of the future. Mater Dei Catholic College attempts to respond to this by way of its Curriculum offerings and the Pastoral Care of students. The College takes a holistic view of education and fosters students’ intellectual, spiritual, social and physical growth and it is hoped that students will acquire a love of learning and have developed skills that will enable them to be life-long learners.