“Come and see.”
This simple, yet profound message spoken by the Christian messiah, Jesus Christ, in the Gospel of John has served as a reverberating message for countless denominations long before the founding of the first Eastern and Catholic churches.
This message will also take on a literal interpretation when a trio of recently donated religious paintings, or icons, will debut at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Boone this weekend.
Icons are a central part of the devotional, as well as artistic tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, said congregation member Ross Cooper.
Also known as “windows into Heaven,” these paintings portray religious figures, such as Jesus, the Virgin Mary, saints and other well-known biblical scenes.
A specially donated set of icons by world renowned iconographer Gloria Lenakos Gaffney will be dedicated at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, following the 10 a.m. Sunday morning divine liturgy on April 6.
Two of the three icons are larger paintings depicting angels and will be on display near a set of inner doors in the alter area.
A former congregation member from Boiling Springs, S.C, anonymously commissioned the third painting, which depicts the Virgin Mary.
“In some sense, icons are central to the church because they reference how people come in contact with the divine,” Cooper said.
Icons, he continued, are similar in message and media to the frescoes tradition, which is prominently displayed at two Episcopalian churches in Ashe County.
Two of the icons were painted by Gloria Gaffney of Asheville, who teaches studio oil painting and Byzantine art history at the Center for Creative Retirement at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Previously, she has painted large wall murals to be hung on display at the Biltmore Estate and at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Center in addition to several other locations.
Before moving to Asheville, she owned Gloria Art Studio in Pennsylvania, where she completed commissioned oil paintings, wall murals and design consultation projects, as well as teaching oil and acrylic painting classes.
Her education includes bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, as well as study at the Art Students League in New York City, Art Institute of Chicago, Woodstock School of Art and in Italy, France and Greece.
Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church recently moved from its location on the N.C. 105 extension to the N.C. 105 Bypass. The new address is 707-7 N.C. 105 Bypass, Boone. For more information, including directions, call http://www.saintspeterandpaulboone.com.