The icon of Christ now above the entrance door to the Holy Apostles Mission in Chilliwack, British Columbia, has a story behind it.
This image is a copy of an icon originally painted by Heiko Schlieper, of blessed memory, a well-known Canadian iconographer and scholar, who fell asleep in the Lord in 2008. Father Matthew, worked together with Heiko on several research projects in the early 2000’s, and Matushka Krista and Father Matthew were greatly blessed by his friendship.
In 2004, the original icon, which was hand-painted in the traditional manner with egg tempera and mineral pigments, gilded with gold leaf, (and is considerably larger than this copy), was brought from Edmonton by the iconographer Heiko Schlieper, accompanied by David J. Goa, and Matthew Francis, who now serves as the Priest-in-Charge of the Holy Apostles Mission.
In 2004, the holy image was brought to the Monastery of All Saints of North America in Dewdney, BC, as part of the work of creating a museum of iconography there. This project drew together many of Heiko Schlieper’s remaining works that were not in other collections, as well as his voluminous research library, which had been developed over decades. Heiko knew at that time that it would be best for the remaining works in his care – including a significant series of the Great Feasts of the Church, as well as other important panel icons – to be preserved in one location. The Monastery at Dewdney was willing to accept this task, serving as a centre and repository for this significant iconographic collection.
Many years later, after the establishment of the Holy Apostles Mission in 2015, Archbishop Lazar of the Monastery of All Saints graciously gave Father Matthew this copy of the icon, printed on metal for durability and permanence. It was determined that we would find a way for the icon to be prominently mounted, hopefully in a setting visible to all – bearing witness to the truth of Jesus Christ – God with us.
Holy Apostles parishioner Kai Lerche, an experienced wood-worker, offered to make a traditional kiot, a frame to protect and display the icon. It was decided that we would mount the icon above the entrance door to Holy Apostles. Our landlords and neighbours at the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church gave their approval, and Kai proceeded with preparing the kiot. In early August of 2017, Kai, assisted by Subdeacon Barnabas Neufeld, mounted the icon in its place.
The first Sunday after the icon’s installation, following the Divine Liturgy, a blessing was served. It is our prayer that this icon of our Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be a sign and witness to all – especially to those who walk by this door in Chilliwack – of the love of God incarnate.
Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!