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Our Father Benedict

Icon Greeting Card

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Size (in inches):

4.375 x 5.9375 (A-6)

Inside Text:

Blank inside.

Bible Verse:

 Proverbs 4:20-21

My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.

Item Details:

This icon is a full-length image of the founder of our Benedictine order that now graces the right side aisle of our Abbey Basilica. Saint Benedict, dressed as a Benedictine abbot, holds a scroll symbolizing his famous Rule for Monks. The words written upon it in Latin are those from its very beginning: “Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart." Card size 4 3/8" x 6".

Icon greeting cards are single-fold cards printed on heavy stock, 4.38" x 5.93". The cards are blank inside for your own message or custom imprint and have an explanation of the history and symbolism of the icon printed on the back.

Image Origins

Upon the occasion of the renewal of our Abbey church, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, our community commissioned a beautiful pair of icons from Sister Marie-Paul to grace the head of the side aisles. This one is a full-length image of the founder of the Benedictine order. The other is of St. Joseph holding the Christ Child.

Saint Benedict of Nursia lived in Italy from about 480 to 547 AD. He was not the founder of Christian monasticism, but he made an enormous contribution to it by writing his Rule of St. Benedict, still used by a great many monasteries and convents around the world. Most of what we know about the life of Saint Benedict is found in The Second Book of Dialogues written by Saint Gregory the Great, a Benedictine monk and Pope from 590 to 604. Gregory was born before Benedict died and had access to monks who knew him. However, the purpose of St. Gregory’s book was to educate and inspire believers, not to record biographical facts.

Theology and Symbolism

Saint Benedict stands before us dressed in traditional garb of robe and scapular, an iconographic image of age, leadership, and wisdom. A halo surrounds his head, the traditional iconographic symbol of sanctity. He holds in his left hand a scroll symbolizing his famous Rule. The words written upon it in Latin are those of the beginning of the Prologue: “Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” About his neck hangs a large pectoral cross and in his right hand is a shepherd’s staff, symbols of leadership still used today by Benedictine abbots. On the background is written the Latin phrase, “Pater Noster Benedictus.” In English, this becomes “Our Father Benedict.”

No one knows what Saint Benedict looked like. The face presented to us here is symbolic in the Byzantine manner. The forehead is very large, indicating wisdom and intelligence. The nose is drawn long and narrow to represent nobility. The mouth is small and closed in the silence of spiritual contemplation. The flowing beard indicates age and experience. The eyes stare straight ahead toward the viewer, but they are focused on Heaven.

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