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Eternal High Priest IconWilliam Saladino |

Inspired by Christ

Blessed by the Most Rev. Frank J. Dewane, Bishop of Venice in Florida, at the Installation Mass for the Rev. Casey F. Jones as Pastor of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, August 22, 2021. The inspiration for our icon is taken from two icons: Christ the Great High Priest and Christ the Pantocrator, both ancient images in iconography.

“It's a beautiful work for a beautiful congregation.”

Fr. Casey JonesPastor, St. Elizabeth Seton

The Details

The face of Our Lord was inspired by Mr. Saladino’s graduate school research on the Shroud of Turin.

Christ is dressed in Latin Rite vestments, the ones worn by our priests during the Mass today. The green color signifies ordinary time, the most prevalent during the liturgical year and compliments the green tones in the church. In fact, you will also find that the blue and red tones compliment the beauty of our stained-glass windows.

The pelican depicted on the chasuble over Christ’s heart represents self-sacrifice. It was believed at one time that a pelican, unable to find food for its young, would pluck their own flesh to feed them, the way Christ feeds and nourishes us with His body and blood in the Eucharist. Therefore, the hymn, Adoro Te Devote, written by St. Thomas Aquinas, refers to Jesus as the ‘Good Pelican,’ pie pellicáne.

The border of the icon contains an altar, our altar in fact, which represents the Mass. It is significant that the steps to the altar are included, three steps representing the Holy Trinity. Steps also convey that the altar, like incense, rises to Heaven.

The two figures in the border are Melchizedek on the left and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney on the right.

Melchizedek, king of righteousness, was priest and king of Jerusalem. He blessed Abraham and was, in the time of Jesus, considered an ideal priest-king. Melchizedek is mentioned in the New Testament many times to demonstrate that Christ is the fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation that began in Genesis:

Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine.
He was a priest of God Most High. (Gen 14:18)

St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney was a parish priest in Ars, France from 1818 until his death in 1859. He was ardently devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and worked tirelessly for all people by hearing confessions for as much as 16 hours a day. His feast day is August 4. It is St. John Vianney whom Pope Benedict XVI, with the announcement of the special Year of the Priest in 2009, declared the Universal Patron of Priests.

The words on the book that Christ is holding are from the Gospel of John, Chapter 10 – The Good Shepherd Discourse:

I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
I know my sheep and they know my voice (John 10:27)
The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11)

On the top of the border are the Greek first and last letters of the name ‘Jesus’ (left) and ‘Christ’ (right).

Around the halo are the Greek symbols for “He Who Is.”

Alpha and Omega, the bottom two symbols, come from the book of Revelations (1:8),

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,
“the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.”

Christ’s hand position is the gesture associated with teaching.

Let us pray, always, for our priests!

O God, who for the glory of your majesty and the salvation of the human race, made your Only Begotten Son the Eternal High Priest, grant that, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, those whom he has chosen as ministers and stewards of his mysteries may be found faithful in carrying out the ministry they have received.

From the Artist:

An icon is considered a writing not a painting. The drawing process took pace over many weeks and conversations going back and forth with Fr. Casey about the details like the Greek letters styles and meanings.

I am grateful that Fr. Casey gave me this opportunity. I feel that God has given me a special ministry as an artist to spread the gospel. When Fr. Casey told me that the deadline to finish was August 22nd, I felt that was a sign from God to take the commission and do the best possible job because that day would have been my late son John Michael Saladino’s 36th birthday. He is the best artist that I have ever known.

William Saladino |