Our Lady of the Sign
Written by Fr. Peter Pearson
The Icon of Our Lady of the Sign (Greek: Panagia or Παναγία Ορωμένη or Παναγία Πλατυτέρα; Church Slavonic: Ikona Bozhey Materi "Znamenie"; Polish: Ikona Bogurodzicy "Znak") is the term for a particular type of icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), facing the viewer directly, depicted either full length or half, with her hands raised in the orans position, and with the image of the Child Jesus depicted within a round aureole upon her breast.
The icon depicts the Theotokos during the Annunciation at the moment of saying, "May it be done to me according to your word."(Luke 1:38). The image of the Christ child represents him at the moment of his conception in the womb of the Virgin. He is depicted not as a fetus, but rather vested in divine robes, and often holding a scroll, symbolic of his role as teacher. Sometimes his robes are gold or white, symbolizing divine glory; sometimes they are blue and red, symbolizing the two natures of Christ (see Christology). His face is depicted as that of an old man, indicating the Christian teaching that he was at one and the same time both a fully human infant and fully the eternal God, one of the Trinity. His right hand is raised in blessing.
The term Virgin of the Sign or Our Lady of the Sign is a reference to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel". Such an image is often placed in the apse of the sanctuary of an Orthodox church above the Holy Table (altar).
As with most Orthodox icons of Mary, the letters ΜΡ ΘΥ (short for ΜΗΤΗΡ ΘΕΟΥ, "Mother of God") are usually placed on the upper left and right of the head of the Virgin Mary.
This type of icon is also sometimes called the Platytéra (Greek: Πλατυτέρα, literally wider or more spacious); poetically, by containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb, Mary has become Platytera ton ouranon (Πλατυτέρα των Ουρανών): "More spacious than the heavens". The Platytéra is traditionally high above the iconostasis, and facing down the length of the nave of the church.
St. Florian- Patron of Firefighters
Written by Fr. Peter Pearson
The feast of St. Florian is celebrated May 4, coinciding with International Firefighter’s Day. Florian was a 3rd-century commander in the Roman army. He organized the army's firefighting brigade and personally trained an elite group of firefighters. When Roman leaders ordered Florian to offer sacrifice to the gods, he refused and was sentenced to be burned at the stake. Even then, Florian stood strong and brave. Tied to the stake, he challenged his executioners to light the fire. "Do it,” he declared, “I will climb to Heaven on the flames.
In the Fall of 2020 we will invite our fire-fighters on Mount Lemmon to attend a dedication service at the Shrine in their honor.
This icon hangs outdoors on the east-side of the chapel.
Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians
Written by Chuck Albanese
The icon originally commissioned by the Knights of Columbus shows “the Blessed Mother, with the Child Jesus in her womb, spreading her protective mantle around a representative gathering of recent Christian martyrs — men and women, young and old, priests, religious and laypersons, including one of the six priest-members of the Knights of Columbus who were killed by the Mexican government in the first half of the 20th century. The four crosses represent an ‘ecumenism of blood’ among martyrs of Roman and Eastern Catholicism, as well as those of Coptic, Armenian, Syriac and Orthodox traditions,” according to the Supreme Knights Council.