Sister Wendy leads us on a "pilgrimage of desire" to view the earliest surviving icons of Mary.
"These early images of Mary seem to me to have the power to shock us out of our complacency, to make us look anew at what the birth of Jesus meant, and means..."
In this story of discovery and spiritual adventure, Sister Wendy Beckett, a contemplative nun and beloved art commentator, travels from England, to Rome, to Ukraine, and finally to a remote monastery in Sinai, to view the earliest icons of Mary. These are among the few that survived the wholesale destruction of icons in the early eighth century. In contrast with the familiar and magnificent icons of later history, these early icons have a haunting simplicity and unfamiliar spiritual power. They come to us from a time much closer to that of Christ, when faith was still alive with wonder, and possibilities were infinite.
In the course of her pilgrimage, Sister Wendy also reviews the history of Christian art, the meaning and function of icons, and shares her thoughts on the relation between beauty, prayer, and the search for God. In her quest for these ancient icons, she feels that she has encountered something greater than an image: "I have called it an encounter with God, because that is truly what it was for me, and what I hope it will be for you, too."
Sister Wendy Beckett (1930-2018) was a South-African born contemplative hermit and consecrated virgin who lived on the grounds of a Carmelite convent in Quidenham, England. An avid student of art, she became an international sensation after the BBC produced a series of programs in which she traveled around the world visiting art museums and commenting on what she saw. This was followed by scores of books, many on art history, as well as others on more spiritual themes, including Sister Wendy's Bible Treasury, Real Presence, and Spiritual Letters.
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