The Blessing of an Icon
The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry blessed the very first icon of Bishop Barbara Harris while visiting The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri on Sunday, Sept. 19. The icon was commissioned by the Rt. Rev. Deon K. Johnson, Eleventh Bishop of the Diocese of Missouri, to honor his friend and mentor.
“I commissioned it for the diocese as a way of honoring Bishop Barbara Harris and the many faithful women who have been raised up and continue to be raised up in this diocese and across the church,” Bishop Deon said. “It is my hope that those who see it, who engage with it, who pray with it would be inspired by her life and ministry.”
Barbara Harris was the first woman consecrated a bishop in the Anglican Communion. She was elected suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts on Sept. 24, 1988. She died March 13, 2020.
Iconographer Peter Pearson created the 4-foot by 3-foot icon, which is based on an image taken when Bishop Barbara was consecrated bishop. The image depicts her celebrating the Eucharist “in persona Christi.” The image includes bishop’s crozier and a thurible, a symbol of our prayers rising before God. The border around the icon is made up of broken chains, representing Bishop Barbara’s African ancestry and her advocacy work with social justice.
Bishop Deon says this beautiful new icon will live at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, and will make “visits” around the diocese as requested.
Presiding Bishop Curry was in St. Louis to preach and preside at the Holy Baptism of Ja’Lon Johnson, Bishop Deon’s 10-year old son. The icon blessing was conducted at the end of that service.