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A member of the Cenacolo Community in Medjugorje explains the meaning of the Icon above the Chapel altar...

“The icon is called The Resurrection.  It was drawn and painted by some young man who, when they came to the community, knew nothing about drawing icons. A friend of Sister Elvira visited our community in Saluzzu, Italy, and saw one guy painting and she decided to teach him and others the art of drawing icons. Now we have someone available to do this particular work in all our houses. Many of these men are able to make a living, drawing icons.


“This icon is the story of our lives. Befoe we started drawing this, we called upon the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us. The Greek word written in red at the top of the icon means “I am who I am”. Here Jesus has risen from the darkness. He has risen from Hell. He’s standing in front of us. If you look closely at his robe, you see it is blowing upwards with a gust of wind. The force that is raising him out of darkness and blowing his robe has also broken the chains and set him free.


“This helps us think of the times in our lives when we were chained in darkness – not by a physical chain, but by a veil that did not allow us to see we had a problem. We could not communicate. Our parents did not have time for us. We looked for joy in many things in the world – material things – but most of the time we were chained in darkness, sleeping whenever and as long as we wanted, doing whatever we wanted. This things caused us to fall into the rut of darkness.


“How were we able to conquer and get out of this rut? By holding this particular door here. Behind this door [of the tabernacle] is the Holy Eucharist. Behind this door is our hope and peace. Three times a day we come here to pray. We have adoration, community adoration, confessional adoration and Masses. We make sacrifices in our lives. Many guys come here in the chapel at 2:00am or 5:00am in the morning to pray, to make a sacrificee. We must pray and make sacrifices in our lives else, when we leave the community and go out into the world, the bad and the evil will begin again.


“Also in this icon Jesus has pulled mankind away from Satan. This is Adam. This is Eve. They committed the first sin – original sin. Eve is without a hand – this is the hand of Satan, that she used to take the apple from the tree. If you look closely at their faces, they have sad faces – the expression of a person who does wrong. These sad faces represent the time in our lives when we used drugs and we also had sad faces; when we stole and robbed; when we didn’t make sacrifices in our lives; when we did things that were not good. We put on a mask, one mask after another. Twenty-three years of masks, I put on.


“In the community, we take thesee masks off. We take them off and leave them in the chapel. We don’t have psychologists from outside. Here in the community we have our own psychologists because they are more able to see what’s wrong with me. They know when I’m not happy; when I’m not free; when I’m not maing sacrifices; when I’m not suffering; when I’m not leading a good life in prayer. They see. These are the masks we take off and so we are able to see, too.

“The icon also shows that after Jesus rose, he wears a voluminous robe that drapes over his shoulder, symbolising that he is the Supreme High Priest.

“Behind Jesus on his right are figures from the Old Testament: King David, King Solomon and the Prophet Elias. To the left of Jesus are the apostles and disciples who followed him. However, when the Icon was unveiled, Sister Elvira wanted a fourth man painted in the scene – a young man, without a beard and dressed in green, to represent one of us in the community.

“Jesus is standing in the Promised Land. Today, we also stand in the Light. It is joy, happiness and peace to stand there in the Light. We used natural colours – green, gold, blue and white – colours that we learned to mix and paint with our own hands. Standing in the Light is a time of happiness, of joy, of not being in solitude, of not living alone. It’s creating a family, a true Christian family – a growing-together in community where we love one another and are prepared to work and make sacrifices. The highest love is Mary’s. Today we stand around doing something good for others.

“Before we do anything we call upon the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. A representation of the Holy Spirit are these two mountains, one on the left and one on the right. They are shaped like God’s hands. We are in His hands. The whole world is in His hands. First thing in the morning, we come to the Chapel to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, for Bible reading and discussion. Before we start our work in our office, or studio, or wherever, we pray. Other parts of the day we say the Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, and in the evening we talk about what we have found difficult during the day, and we help and encourage each other.

“Behind Jesus, you see a blue circle. The stars in the blue circle represent souls in Purgatory. These are souls that have died and we pray that they pass onto the Promised Land. Many guys here have had “Aids”. They came into the community and we pray that with their conversion they have been able to pass into the Promised Land and that they are now living in joy and happiness.

“The last thing we paint on the icon are the eyes. On this particular painting when it was finished they eyes of Jesus were looking straight ahead. But Sister Elvira wanted them changed so that wherever you were sitting you would be able to look into His eyes and receive the Holy Spirit.

“We hope that coming here you will be blessed with a spiritual experience that will remain with you the rest of your life; that you will return home and share this experience with those who are suffering – the poor – not necessarily those who sleep on the street, but people who have forgotten the Word of God, who do not know how to love or be of service without wanting something in return.

“This is basically how we as drug addicts, change our lives, as people who have been chained in darkness for so long by our addictions and problems. Slowly slowly, over a period of years, we come from darkness into the Light.”

Sister Elvira Petrozzi, who founded the Cenacolo Community in 1983.

Further details about the Community are  at this link.

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