Iconofile: Icons and Sacred Art
Iconofile: Icons and Sacred Art Iconofile: Icons and Sacred Art
   
 
Iconofile Forum


Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | | search | faq | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Iconofile Forum   » General Questions & Answers   » Dormition of St Joseph icon?

 - Send-to-a-Friend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Dormition of St Joseph icon?
daniel
Member
Member # 190

Icon 1 posted      Profile for daniel   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dear Jill- Thanks for all the input as well as for the emailed images.
I didn't think that showing Christ carrying St Joseph's soul sounded right.
Where does the tradition that he died when Jesus was around twelve come from? In my Catholic upbringing, and in all the Catholic religious depictions of his death Christ is shown as a grown man, and I was always taught that St J died just before Christ began his public ministry...
Also, traditionally, St Joseph died in the presence of Christ and His Mother; I have never heard of anyone else present. I believe I am going to stick with that, with the additional figures of the Archangel Gabriel- traditionally identified as the angel who spoke to Joseph in dreams- and Joseph's guardian angel.
And I believe the Hand of God in the upper right hand corner.
It is odd that no one apparently has ever done an icon of the Death of St Joseph, as he is the patron saint of a happy death in the Catholic traditon, and Roman Catholics have been painting icons again for some time.

--------------------
daniel

Posts: 200 | From: ohio | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
Jill
Member
Member # 355

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Jill     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hello Daniel

You would be fortunate indeed if you were to find a life icon of St Joseph! You will find from the icons I’ll be sending you that most are modelled on the Dormition of the Mother of God, of which the icon of the Dormition of St Anna would be perhaps the best model for you to use.

The people surrounding the reposed saint vary, according to what is known about the saint’s life. For instance, nuns gather around the reposed St Irene Chrysovalantou, monks around St Ephraim the Syrian, St Joachim (with halo) is with St Anna, along with several other unnamed figures, not bearing haloes. It would be permissible to include other saints who may not have been contemporaries of the saint concerned, but who, for instance, wrote defining treatises on the life and significance of the saint. For example, in icons of the Dormition of the Mother of God, the fathers Athanasius the Areopagite, Ignatius the Godbearer, Ambrose of Milan, Epiphanius of Cyprus and Gregory Palamas, who all wrote significant works on the Mother of God, are generally present (not always all of them, depending on the layout of the composition), as is, less commonly, St Romanus the Melodist, who wrote an abundance of theotokia and other hymnody in her honour. One could also make a case on similar grounds for the inclusion of St John of Damascus, who wrote one of the two canons sung at the Vigil for the Dormition (as well as much other hymnody for the Virgin), though I have yet to come across this in my travels.

Portraying Christ carrying the soul of the departed Joseph as He does His mother’s soul would be very problematic. The initial reaction of many would be “Why not? Joseph was Jesus’s earthly father, was he not?”. This, of course, brings us back to the problem of “icons” of Joseph and Child, which I have discussed at length on other threads. Simply put, when stuck, look at the liturgical texts and the writings of the Fathers! Here are selections from the Dormition Vigil which confirm the iconographic correctness of Christ bearing the soul of His mother:

From the Litia at Vespers:

She who is higher than the heavens, more glorious than Cherubim and greater in honour than creation, who through her surpassing purity became the vessel of the Eternal Being, today places in the hands of her Son her all-holy soul. With her the universe is filled with joy and to us is given His great mercy.

Come, all the ends of the earth, let us call blessed the Translation of the Mother of God. For she has placed her unblemished soul in the hands of her Son. Therefore the world has been restored to life by her holy Dormition, as with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs it radiantly celebrates the feast with the bodiless Hosts and the Apostles.

Sing, you peoples, to the Mother of our God, sing! For today she places her soul, all filled with light, in the immaculate palms of the One who was incarnate from her without seed. And she implores Him without ceasing that to the inhabited world there may be granted His peace and great mercy.


From the Apostikha:

Come, you peoples, let us sing the praises of the pure, all-holy Virgin, from whom the Word of the Father came forth ineffably incarnate, as we cry and say: Blessed are you among women. Blessed is the womb which contained Christ. As you deliver your soul into His holy hands, intercede, O immaculate one, that our souls may be saved.

From Matins, first Canon of ode 9:

The angelic Powers were amazed as they looked on their own Master in Zion bearing in His hands the soul of a woman; for as befitted a Son He was saying to the one who immaculately gave Him birth: Come, honoured Mistress, be glorified with your Son and God.

Matins, from the Praises:

Virgin Mother, Bride of God, who gave birth to Life, you have passed over to immortal life by your revered Dormition. Angels, Rulers and Powers, Apostles, Prophets and all creation escorted you, and your Son received in His immaculate hands your unblemished soul.

Consider, therefore, whether Joseph’s soul can be properly portrayed in similar fashion. Is he “higher than the heavens, more glorious than Cherubim and greater in honour than creation”? Does any hymnody for St Joseph use such imagery? Do the writings of the Fathers speak of him in these terms? The simple answer is no. Joseph was indeed divinely chosen by God to be the betrothed of Mary, and he fulfilled his duties as the earthly father of young Jesus admirably, no-one is denying this. He is no less a saint than any other. However, liturgically, theologically and doctrinally, he is not the bridge between heaven and earth, he is not the “equal” of the Mother of God. No saint is, no apostle or father is, not even Joseph. This is not my "mere opinion", this is the teaching of the Church. Joseph is who he is through the Mother of God, as she is who she is through her Son. Therefore, it would be wrong to paint an icon showing Christ bearing the soul of Joseph in His hands. The proper motif would be his soul carried by an angel. This is indeed the case in the dormition icons of other saints I have come across which show the passage of the saint’s soul to heaven.

As for how should Christ feature in Joseph’s dormition: My initial thoughts are these:

If He is to be shown “in time”, then He should be rendered as Emmanuel, blessing Joseph, though this would pose problems in two areas: where in the composition should He be placed, and what size the figure should be. Church tradition tells us that Joseph died not long after Jesus turned twelve. If depicted as a child, it would not make sense for Him to be the size of an adult figure, any more than if He was so depicted in Mother of God icons, yet it would be difficult to show Him prominently while “child-sized”. It would be more satisfactory to show Christ blessing Joseph (either as Emmanuel, or as an adult) coming from an upper corner. Putting the Trinity in the centre of the upper border would be OK as long as Christ is not present elsewhere in the icon.

Posts: 182 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
daniel
Member
Member # 190

Icon 1 posted      Profile for daniel   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yes, I thought I would find a "St Joseph with scenes from his life" icon, but none turned up. I will definitely email you to look at the various dormition icons. I thought that it should be modeled on the dormition of Mary but did not know how to proceed. Christ was not yet ascended, for example, so he would be present in His earthly nature. Would He also be portrayed in gold receiving the soul of the saint?
Like I said, I am hesitant and seek counsel. The dormition icons of which you speak should help a lot. Thanks!

--------------------
daniel

Posts: 200 | From: ohio | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
Jill
Member
Member # 355

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Jill     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hello Daniel

I have a number of icons on file which are of dormitions of saints. They follow a general similarity of composition to icons of the Dormition of the Mother of God, though with a number of important differences (no time to explain them right now).

From memory, I have icons of the dormition of St Anna, mother of the Mother of God (late 20thC Greek from Mt Athos), of St Nicholas of Myra (late 20thC, Russian), of St Irene Chrysovalantou (mosaic from the rebuilt monastery church in Lykovrysi, Greece), of Great-martyr St Catherine, and of St Ephraim the Syrian (fresco c. 17thC). I may have other similar icons as well, I would need to check for you. Also it is worth looking at "life" icons of saints (icons with a central panel of the saint in frontal view, surrounded by smaller panels depicting events in that saint's life) whose earthly life ended by "repose", not martyrdom. Very often, there will be a panel depicting that saint's repose.

Despite all efforts, I have never been successful in uploading images to this forum. You are welcome to email me privately and I can send them on to you.

Posts: 182 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
daniel
Member
Member # 190

Icon 1 posted      Profile for daniel   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have been approached by the pastor of a small Byzantine Catholic church who asked if I would consider painting an icon of the dormition of St Joseph.
I have been unable to find an existing icon of this subject, though there are plenty Roman Catholic depictions of the death of St Joseph.
I have created icons before for Roman Catholic saints for whom there was no traditional model, or only unsuitable ones, but that is a simple affair: fidelity to descriptions of physical appearance, accurate religious habit, a scroll with a quote from the saint's life. This is more of a challenge, and I am not comfortable proceeding without counsel from my fellow iconographers.
I was thinking of something pretty simple: St Joseph in repose, Christ blessing, Mary at his side, the Hand of God in the upper right corner, or maybe the Old Testament Trinity in the center, maybe angels.
What do you all think? Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

--------------------
daniel

Posts: 200 | From: ohio | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged


 
Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

© 2003-2015 Iconofile. All rights to the postings in this forum become that of Iconofile.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.5.0