Kursk, Russia, March 12, 2019
Iconographers from Kursk, Russia have begun work on recreating an ancient icon of the martyrs Sergius and Bacchus that was destroyed by militants in Syria.
For more than 8 centuries, the icon was preserved in one of the most ancient Orthodox monasteries in Syria, in the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus in Maaloula. Sergius and Bacchus were Roman soldiers and secret Christians who embraced martyrdom in the times of persecution.
“In 2013, when Maaloula was captured by one of, as they call them in the West, the “moderate opposition” militants, Al-Nusra, the began to destroy churches and monasteries, including the Church of the Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus. Many shrines that were there were desecrated, and the icon that we are now trying to recreate was irrevocably lost,” said Fr. Alexander, the head of the iconography department of the Kursk Theological Seminary.
The iconography workshop of St. Andrei Rublev at Holy Trinity Church in Kursk has undertaken to recreate the lost sacred object of the 13th century. The main work is being done by Stanislav Proskurin, who has been painting icons for 17 years. For him, the return of the holy icon to the people requires a special mindset.
“Prayerful and spiritual. After all, it’s a responsible work. You can’t just approach it like a regular artist whenever the mood strikes you. You need precisely a spiritual mood. We study their lives, because you have to convey that image, you have to feel that image,” Proskurin explained.
The restoration work is being done according to photographs of the icon before it was destroyed, using Russian and Byzantine iconographic traditions, with natural paints and materials.
Work on the Church of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus is planned to be finished by April, after which the icon will be delivered to Syria.
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