AELRED OF RIEVAULX +
(c.1110-1167) English Cistercian monk and Abbott of the Monastery of Rievaulx. In contrast to other monastic writers,
he regarded deep human friendship as an essential element of spiritual life and closeness to God. (January 12)
Visit this icon-in-progress.
(4th century) The anonymous woman who prays ceaselessly as she works washing dishes. To the desert fathers, the
founders of monasticism in the 4th and 5th centuries, she represents the holiness of all that is ordinary and routine.
(1225-1274) Daring to counter the neo-Platonic theology of his age, Aquinas revived interest in Aristotle, whose
ideas had been preserved and developed in the Islamic world and were therefore suspect to Christians. He was convinced
of the goodness of all creation and its participation in the goodness of God's own self. His work embodies what
one historian has called the essential principle of Western Civilization, namely, that "truth unfolds in time
through a communal process." Called "The Angelic Doctor" for his brilliant synthesis of faith and
reason, he is among the teachers of the whole church whom Dante saw dancing before God in his final vision in The
Paradiso. (January 28)
(1st century) A Levite Jew, a man of learning and generosity and one of the first post-resurrection apostles. Deeply
respected by the disciples, his trust in the authenticity of Paul's conversion led to their acceptance of this
former persecutor. He was the first apostle to embrace the evidence of God's grace in the hearts of Gentile converts
to the Way. (June 11)
(1872-1957) The Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, visionary and mystic. A youthful convert and Episcopalian, his life
and teaching showed forth God's radiant and powerfully healing presence in all of nature.
(1543-1623) Composer of music for the Roman Catholic Church and also for the early Anglican church. He created
a deeply moving tradition of Anglican choral music which continues to inspire composers of religious music at St.
Gregory's and elsewhere. (July 4)
DONALDINA CAMERON +
(1869-1968) Scottish Presbyterian social worker who defied Chinese gangs and crime lords, corrupt police and complacent
politicians to rescue girls kidnapped from China to San Francisco for sale as prostitutes and slaves. Founder of
Cameron House in San Francisco's Chinatown. Visit
CESAR CHAVEZ +
(1927-1993) The son of Mexican migrants to California, he devoted his life to organizing farm workers despite the
opposition of both employers and powerful union leaders. His movement succeeded in giving migrant workers bargaining
power, restoring dignity to this poor and disposed population. A man of religious faith and commitment to nonviolence,
his vocation embodied his "deepest belief that only by giving life do we find life, that the truest act of
courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for
justice." (April 23) [Visit
CHRISTINE DE PISAN +
(1365-1431) French writer and single mother whose witty theological polemic tweaking clergy attitudes towards women
was the first writing of its kind available to a popular audience. Visit this icon-in-progress.
(1926-1967) African-American saxophone player, composer, eminent jazz innovator. Coltrane's faith in God was a
powerful healing force in his overcoming addiction to heroin. He testifies to God's omnipotence, our need for God,
dependence on God and God's power to remake us on his seminal album Love Supreme, and dedicates his music, saying.
"Let us sing all songs to God." (July 17)
(1265-1321) Florentine poet, whose towering three part work, the Divine Comedy, takes us on his soul's journey
through the "dark wood" of lost innocence. He begins wandering blind and in despair in Il Inferno and
concludes in Paradiso with an extraordinary vision of the dancing saints encircling "the love which moves
the sun and other stars." (September 13)
(1809-1882) English naturalist whose On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) and The Descent
of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) offered an evolutionary understanding of the development of life
on earth, challenging conventional interpretations of creation and inviting whole new ways of thinking of living
beings, humanity and God through process, system, and change. Darwin was a deacon in the Church of England. (April
KING DAVID +
(1010?-970? B.C.) Guerrilla warrior, despotic king, writer of psalms, murderer of Uriah. Among his sons were Solomon,
who gathered scholars to create the first systematic collection of the sacred texts that would become the Bible,
and Absolam, who would die leading a revolt against David. We honor this complex and contradictory character for
the simple, clear devotion of his 23rd Psalm and his shameless and enthusiastic joy dancing naked before the Ark
of God. [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS+
(1474-1566) A young, privileged Spanish adventurer who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage and received large
New World land holdings and native slaves. After some years as a slave holder, he was so moved by the suffering
of his slaves that he became a priest, freed his slaves and, gradually and painfully, came to a spiritual and intellectual
rejection of slavery in any form. As a Dominican monk and eventually a bishop, he wrote and traveled tirelessly,
arguing against slavery before theologians, politicians, and King Phillip II of Spain. Las Casas was the first
Christian moral theologian to argue that enslaving fellow human beings was sin, always and under any circumstances.
(July 17) Visit this icon.
W. EDWARDS DEMING
(1900-1993) American statistician who believed profoundly in people's ability to deeply transform themselves and
the organizations in which they work and live. His Quality Movement was first applied in war-torn Japan and finally,
after many years as a prophet without honor in his own country, was embraced by the American business community.
EVERYTHING TRUE AND BEAUTIFUL IS ALWAYS FULL OF FORGIVENESS
(1821-1881) Russian novelist and mystic, he came to faith while imprisoned for youthful revolutionary writings.
His grandiose and addictive nature was slowly transformed and healed by his vision of Christ and the love of his
second wife. He wrote prophetically of the bloodshed that principled lovers of humanity would wreak on the world
because they had rejected God and God's love expressed through people. His vision of Christ and of the fundamental
goodness in ordinary people made him hope for truly universal salvation. (January 28)
ESTHER JOHN (QAMAR ZIA) +
(1929-1960) Teacher and missionary to Indian women, she was converted to Christianity in reading the 53rd chapter
of Isaiah. She kept her faith secret but eventually ran away from home, afraid her family would force her to marry
a Muslim husband. Her family pressed her to return and finally marry, but she went north to the Punjab where she
lived and worked in a mission hospital. Later she became a teacher and evangelized in the local villages, travelling
by bicycle, teaching the women to read and working with them in the cotton fields. She was found murdered in her
bed. (February 2)[Visit this icon-in-progress.]
(1879-1955) As a theoretical physicist, he allowed the power of paradox to spur his imagination and created an
entirely new understanding of reality with lasting impact on science and technology. An intellectual mystic, he
saw the beauty of an expanding universe where matter and energy were one and glimpsed a single, vast, purposeful
God. Although he did not consider himself conventionally religious, Einstein maintained that "The most beautiful
emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. One to whom this emotion
is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead." He was among the thousands
of Jews who was forced to flee from Nazi Germany in the '30s. (April 18)
(1533-1603) Queen of England. When much of Europe was torn by bloody warfare over disputed points of Christian
doctrine, heresy trials and religious purges, Elizabeth conceived a Church in which people of diverse beliefs,
opinions and doctrines could be one through shared prayer and Eucharist. She used her power to forge religious
peace on this new principle. (March 23) Visit this icon.
THERE IS BUT ONE FAITH AND ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST; THE REST IS DISPUTE ABOUT TRIFLES.
PAUL ERDOS +
Paul Erdos lived his life as an itinerant mathematical angel, travelling constantly and unexpectedly showing up
on other mathematician's doorsteps when they found themselves stuck in developing exciting new theories. Erdos
would stay long enough to help find a way through the difficulty, then move on to the next person who needed a
hand. Erdos lived very simply, depending on his friends to tend his needs as he offered himself in support of the
work that others were doing.
(1927-1996) American chanteuse, who overcame a tortured childhood, including desperate poverty and time as a prostitute,
to become a singer of enormous grace and joy. She was afflicted with diabetes which confined her to a wheelchair
and eventually led to her death.
FRANCIS OF ASSISI+
(1182-1226) Italian mystic and church reformer who sang God's work in all of nature-sun, moon, plants, animals,
life and death-and in the passion of Christ. His vernacular hymns, popular processions and the first Christmas
Creche were among his sensual and intuitive church reforms that appealed to people's imagination, hope and delight.
Following one story of his peacemaking with animals, Francis will be painted with a wolf. (October 4) [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
(1929-1945) Young German Jewish girl whose extraordinary diary, written while in hiding from the Nazis, expressed
an unshakable faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity, her unapologetic fears and frustrations with the people
she lived with in confinement, her longings and desires, and her great hope for a future she knew she might not
ever see. (June 12) [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
CASPAR DAVID FRIEDRICH+
(1774-1840) German Romantic painter whose awesome landscapes and seascapes express the profound mystical presence
of God in the dark side of existence. (May 7) [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI+
(1869-1948) Martyred Indian spiritual leader. Activist for peace and reconciliation between Muslims and Hindus.
Inspired by Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, this Hindu teacher of peace took on the British Empire to free India by
means of a nonviolent moral conflict. He became one of the principal models for the Rev. Martin Luther King, whose
own practical applications of Jesus' teaching offered black and white America hope and promise for nonviolent social
change. (January 30) Visit this icon-in-progress.
GREGORY OF NYSSA
(331-396) Cappadoccian Bishop and theologian, our patron, who said, "This is true perfection: not to avoid
a wicked life because we fear punishment, like slaves; not to do good because we expect repayment, as if cashing
in on the virtuous life by enforcing some business deal. On the contrary, disregarding all those good things which
we do hope for and which God has promised us, we regard falling from God's friendship as the only thing dreadful,
and we consider becoming God's friend the only thing truly worthwhile." (March 9) Visit this icon.
(c.1040-1080) Godiva's legend has her riding horseback naked through the streets of Coventry to protest the local
lord's (her own husband's) new taxes that would strip the poor of everything, even the clothes off their back.
Borrowing words from the Syrian martyr, Mahya, Godiva's protest says to us, "You have done this and it is
YOUR shame; I am not ashamed myself, for this woman's body was created by God."
Part of modern dance's contribution to the whole human dialogue is the celebration of the human body as it is and
the music and poetry of natural movement. Martha Graham made enormous contributions to this work and spoke about
it in terms that are recognizably mystical. As a dancer, she refuted the idea that the joy of dancing must be restricted
to the young by continuing to choreograph and perform liberating, finely-nuanced and significant work well into
ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL
(1907-1972) Polish-born, German-educated theologian and philosopher. Deported by the Nazis in 1938, by 1945 he
had made his way to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York where he taught until his death. A scholar of wide
concerns, he wrote, taught, and worked to revive and renew mystical, prophetic and active dimensions of Jewish
piety and practice. He was a leader in American Civil Rights and anti-Viet Nam War activism. He stressed experience,
feeling, and lively personal response in spirituality. (December 23)
(1561-1643) English Puritan poet, teacher and theologian who was banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony for teaching
that God could be known through intuition and experience. After her banishment, she and her husband joined Roger
Williams in Rhode Island, helping found there a community more open to religious experience and freedom of conscience.
(370 - 415) Pagan mathematician and philosopher who drew pupils from throughout the Greek world, Christian and
pagan. As Christian humanists, we honor Hypatia's learning and courage, holding her as a witness to intellectual
curiosity and honest inquiry which are closer to God than the angry certainties of fundamentalism which incite
people to kill for doctrinal "purity." Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, perceived her as a threat to
the Church. She was martyred at the hands of Christian monks. Visit this icon-in-progress.
(1982-1995) This Pakistani Christian boy was sent to work weaving rugs at age 5. Spirited, heroic and articulate,
when he was 10 he escaped from the rug merchants to whom he had been bonded. Though his "owner" threatened
and harassed him, Iqbal enrolled in a Bonded Labour Liberation Front school and began speaking publicly to other
bonded children, inspiring thousands with the courage to leave their owners. Just months after he testified before
the U. N. Commission on Human Rights at age 13, assassins, presumably hired by rug merchants, murdered him in Pakistan
as he left church on Easter Day. (Easter Day) Visit this icon.
(8th century B.C.) Hebrew prophet of the Exile whose vision of the majesty, holiness and glory of God took possession
of his spirit. He speaks of our world not as a "cut stump," but rather as "springing anew from the
stump of Jesse." His prophecy of Emmanuel is not a "God-in-the-sky" but "God-Near-Us,"
the spirit of wisdom and insight, counsel and power. He leads us to probe ever deeper into the mystery of suffering
through his image of the Suffering Servant who says, "Here I am Lord, send me," forgetting himself and
acting on behalf of humanity, to lighten burdens and console, bringing many into the center of God's great love.
(1881-1963) The pope responsible for the Second Vatican Council thus "opening the windows" to let fresh
air into the Catholic Church. A simple conservative himself, he gathered scholars, liturgists and theologians,
inviting them to offer their best work for the good of all. (June 3) [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
JULIAN OF NORWICH+
(1342-c.1417) English mystic, anchoress and spiritual director, author of Revelations of Divine Love, the first
work written in modern English. Living in the midst of the horrors of the Black Death and of church torture and
burning of heretics, Julian's startlingly realistic visions of Jesus' sufferings on the cross and her loving conversations
with him moved her to believe the words she heard him say: "All shall be well and all manner of things shall
be well and that despite any imaginable sin, suffering or evil." (May 8)
(1838-1917) A devout Anglican and pacifist, she reigned as the last Queen of Hawaii from 1891-1893. Unwilling to
permit Hawaiian blood to be shed in defense of the monarchy, she was deposed by colonists, held under house arrest
in a small room in her own palace, and convicted of treason. While confined, she had only two books to read: the
Bible and the Anglican Prayer Book, both of which influenced the great body of music she composed. (September 2)
THE KANGXI EMPEROR
(reigned 1661-1722) Though not himself a Christian, he decreed tolerance for Christian faith and preaching, built
churches, and wrote moving poetry on the passion of Christ. We honor his generosity of spirit and pray that we
will extend the same appreciation, understanding and good will towards those of other faiths and of no faith.
LI TIM OI
(1907-1992) Hong Kong Chinese Anglican. She accepted ordination as the British were fleeing Hong Kong in World
War II and served faithfully during the Japanese occupation. After the war she returned to her original and primary
calling as a teacher and catechist. The example of this first woman ordained in the Anglican Communion invites
us all, men and women, to put less value on privilege or rank, lay or ordained, so that we might simply embrace
whatever God asks of us. (May 5)
(1483-1546) Despite a lifelong struggle with crippling depression, Luther remained a theologian and spiritual teacher
who valued experience and feelings as a way of knowing God. Luther's Table Talk and massive theological, Biblical
and liturgical writings show a man wonderfully unguarded in prayer and "battle with the Devil." Rejecting
a literalism that limited God, Luther taught that Jesus' "ascension to the right hand of God" meant that
he was now personally and substantially present and available in every place, moment or situation. (February 18)
Visit this icon-in-progress.
(EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ)
(1925-1965) Born Malcolm Little. While in prison for burglary, he joined the Black separatist Nation of Islam and
took the name Malcolm X. His radical vitriolic eloquence led even Islamic leader Elijah Mohammed to suspend him
for remarks after the shooting of John F. Kennedy. Malcolm went on pilgrimage to Mecca where he was converted by
a vision of one humanity worshipping one God in peace. He repudiated racism in any form and returned to the United
States to work for tolerance and justice for Blacks and for peace between the races. He was assassinated by Black
separatists associated with the Nation of Islam. (February 21) Visit this icon.
(1910-1928) At age 18, Manche joined a class to prepare for baptism in her native Sekhukhuneland (Africa). Her
parents were opposed to her becoming a Christian and tried to stop her. Every time she returned home from class
she was beaten by her mother. Finding that nothing could shake her faith, her family dragged her out of their hut
and by turns flogged her until she died. As she had predicted to her priest, she was baptized "with her own
blood." We honor her simple and single-minded desire to know God.
(1908-1996) American civil rights lawyer and Supreme Court justice. A distinguished jurist, whose passions for
fairness and justice were shaped by his personal knowledge and experience of prejudice and poverty. Knowing how
much new opportunity for the dispossessed and marginalized could serve the good of all, he advocated interpretation
of the law to realize more perfectly the Constitution's vision of genuinely evenhanded justice for all.
(1st century) "The apostle to the Apostles." Despite her central role in the Gospels, scholars and theologians
have persistently misrepresented her as the adulterous sinner. Luke tells us that Jesus healed Mary of demon possession
and that she then followed him as a disciple. When the other disciples fled, she stayed with Jesus through his
crucifixion, was the first one he appeared to after his resurrection and the one he sent to proclaim it. She is
unusual among biblical women in that she is never identified by her relationship to a male figure. She is never
referred to as "Mary the wife of" or "Mary the mother of," but only as "Mary of Magdala,"
a person in her own right. We honor her not as a symbol of perfection, but as a real and passionate human being
who was devoted to Jesus. (July 22)
(1915-1968) American Trappist monk who initiated interreligious prayer and dialogue, and whose writings have brought
thousands to the practice of contemplative prayer. (December 10) Visit this icon-in-progress.
(?14th century B.C.) Older sister of Moses, thought to be the actual voice behind one of the oldest poems in the
Hebrew Scriptures, The Song of Moses, celebrating the previously unimaginable event of God taking the side of the
forgotten, dispossessed slaves and leading them to freedom. In Exodus, Miriam leads the women of Israel in a dance
of thanksgiving for the freedom God has given them. Visit this icon.
(1498-1546) Medieval bhakti poet of northern India. After refusing to cast her body on her husband's funeral pyre,
she took up a wandering life, turning her back on convention and dedicating herself to the Hindu god, Lord Giridhara.
Her poems poignantly convey the sublimity of mystical union with the Divine and longing despair at its loss-a longing
so powerful it itself becomes the sign of the Beloved's presence.
(1872-1957) Pioneering architect who had a profound impact on architecture in the West. Her concept of sacred space
influenced the design of many buildings including St. Gregory's Church. She aggressively sought contracts, sometimes
offering her services free of charge, to build beautiful public spaces, including Potrero Hill's Neighborhood House,
Asilomar and many churches and community centers. (January 20) Visit this icon-in-progress.
MOSES THE BLACK
(330-405) Ethiopian thief and gang leader who underwent a conversion and become one of the most revered of the
Desert Fathers, founders of monasticism. (August 28)
(1838-1914) Writer, hiker, lover of California wilderness. Father of the modern environmental movement. In spite
of an abusive religious upbringing, he remained a deeply spiritual man and an eloquent spokesperson for our sacred
responsibility to care for the earth. He said, "In wildness is the preservation of the world." (December
24) Visit this icon-in-progress.
JOHN MASON NEALE+
(1818-1866) Anglican priest who founded the Sisters of Saint Margaret (one of the first Anglican orders of women
after the Reformation) for medical nursing work among the rural poor of England. He insisted on a high level of
professional training for the nurses and fostered the autonomous leadership of women within their community (angering
many who believed that women must be subservient to a father, brother or husband) Forging strong ecumenical ties
with Eastern Orthodoxy, he brought a daring and renewed feeling of beauty and tenderness to Anglican liturgy, hymnody
and architecture. (August 6) Visit this
(1820-1910) Unitarian, sometime Anglican, accused of "eclectic religious beliefs." The leading figure
in the development of modern nursing practice through her pioneering work in the Crimean War, she recruited and
trained women to serve in places of disease and violence where Victorian sensibilities taught "gentle ladies
ought not to go." Among her recruits were a number of Anglican nursing sisters from the Sisters of Saint Margaret.
(August 13) [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
(185-254) Alexandrian theologian and teacher whose homilies profoundly challenged and influenced Gregory of Nyssa.
Origen established the norm of scripture commentary for Christian theology. Probably the first Christian to learn
Hebrew in order to read the Old Testament in its original language. Visit this icon.
PATRICK OF IRELAND
(389-461) In a time of cultural collapse and hooligan violence, Patrick's missionary work to the Irish was humanist,
peacemaking and expansive. Patrick and his missionary co-workers created a Celtic Christianity that embraced ancient
Celtic reverence and love of nature, while suppressing old practices like human sacrifice to the nature gods, and
that used the bardic traveler's spirit of old Celtic spirituality to tame the roaming warrior hero tradition. (March
PAUL OF TARSUS
(1st century) Author of nearly half the New Testament. Paul, though personally inclined to be a strict moralist
and attracted to simple answers and clear, comprehensive order, struggled in all his writings to include his startling
vision of God's unreserved embrace of all humanity in Christ, saying: "God was in Christ, reconciling the
world to himself, not counting people's sins or faults against them, and God entrusted to us the news that people
are reconciled." (January 25)
(?-1976 ) American Gospel scholar who developed new principles for recovering the probable original teaching of
Jesus in the parables. He argued that Jesus' central, daring witness was the sacred meal he kept with "unprepared
sinners," the sign we imitate at St. Gregory's by welcoming everyone to share in Eucharist.
MARGUERITE DE PORETE
(?-1310) French mystic and author of Mirror of a Simple Soul. When accused of the heresy of a "Free Spirit,"
she remained contemptuously silent before the Inquisition and was burned at the stake in Paris. (June 1)
(1945-1976) Artistically gifted, intellectually and spiritually inquisitive young Episcopal sculptor in San Francisco
who was raped and murdered while at work on a sculpture of St. John of the Cross. (May 18)
(1884-1962) A woman of privilege who as First Lady chose to draw near to suffering, seeing and listening to people's
experience of being poor or dispossessed in order to enlarge her compassion. She used her access to political power
as a means to offer them dignity and relief. (November 7)
(c. 1365- c.1430) Russian Orthodox monk and icon painter. He worked as an assistant and disciple to Theophanes
the Greek, and eventually painted images for prayer which synthesized Theophanes' work with purified Russian folk
traditions creating an iconography which was intimate and human.
SOME GO FIRST, AND OTHERS COME LONG AFTERWARD.
GOD REPLACES WHAT HAS BEEN CONSUMED,
AND PROVIDES FOR THOSE WHO WORK THE SOIL OF HELPFULNESS.
GOD BLESSES MUHAMMAD AND JESUS AND EVERY OTHER MESSENGER AND PROPHET.
AND MAY THE LORD OF ALL CREATED BEINGS BLESS YOU.
--JALAL UD-DIN RUMI,
MATHNAWI, BOOK IV
(1207-1273) Mystical Persian Sufi poet. Appreciated by Christians, Jews, Muslims and unbelievers in his day and
our own for his striking expression of the presence of God in ecstasy and the everyday. As a teacher, he invited
others into mystical union with God through poetry and dancing. He created the whirling, meditative dance of the
Mevlevi Order of Sufis. (December 17) [Visit
SADI WITH TIGER
(1184-1291) Medieval Persian poet whose Gulistan (The Rose Garden) and Bustan (Orchard) are classics of Sufi mystical
literature. His work includes the parable of the injured fox fed by the tiger.
(1897-1982) American Episcopal laywoman who almost single-handedly restored the practice of healing prayer to mainline
Christian churches. (February 21)
SAMUEL JOSEPH ISAAC SCHERESCHEWSKI+
Bishop of Shanghai. Schereschewski was sent to China to become Bishop, but on landing in Shanghai, he immediately
fell ill with a fever that left him paralysed. Unable to carry out the original mission he'd been given, Bishop
Schereschewski spent the rest of his life translating the Bible into Chinese. We honor him for his perseverence
uin the face of tragdy and limitation, and we celebrate his finding an unexpected way of carrying out his mission
to bring the Word to his new people.[Visit
SERAPHIM WITH BEAR+
(1759-1833) Russian Orthodox mystic of joy, whose love for all of God's creatures led him to share his fasting
rations with a bear saying, "The poor bear can't know it is Lent." (January 2)
(Seraphim and the three other saints portrayed with animals - Francis, Godiva and Sadi - remind us that God's
work of creation extends to all living creatures and that some people have known God in companionship with animals
or by listening for God through imaginative and compassionate reflection on the stories of animals.) [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
SERGIUS AND BACCHUS
(4th century) Roman soldiers who were martyred for their Christian faith. The ancient veneration of these two men
offers gay Christians, and those who love and support them, a ray of hope by showing how the Church openly honored
two people of the same gender in a loving relationship. In their relationship as lovers, Sergius and Bacchus found
courage for the choice they were called to make as witnesses to their faith. (October 7)
(1564-1616) Profoundly spiritual Elizabethan playwright and poet. We celebrate him particularly for his understanding
of the work of grace and the dynamics of redemption. (April 23) Visit this icon-in-progress.
(1891-1945) A divorced woman and Russian intellectual who became a nun, worked with the poor in France and was
martyred by the Nazis for hiding Jews. Known for being outspoken, pragmatic and daringly funny. Metropolitan (archbishop)
Antony Bloom noted that as a young priest "it offended me then that she liked to sit in Paris bistros in her
nun's habit, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and talking with simple workers. I am ashamed to say I kept my distance
from that woman because she was doing just what Christ did." Visit this icon-in-progress.
(? - 1250?) Mother of Kublai Khan, as well as another Khan of China and one of Persia, who kept a Christian household
and had her sons educated by priests. Though none of her sons professed Christianity officially, they were friendly
to Christians. Her contemporary, Syrian Orthodox Gregory Bar-Hebraya in far western Mesopotamia, treasured her
memory and said 'She was a Christian, sincere and true, like Queen Helena.' And a certain poet said concerning
her 'If I were to see among the race of women another woman like this, I should say that the race of women was
far superior to the race of men.'"
M. M. THOMAS (MADHATHILPARAMPIL MAMMEN THOMAS)
(1916 - 1997) A layman from the Mar Thoma Church, Kerala. Pioneering ecumenical leader, onetime chair of the Central
Committee of the World Council of Churches, director of the Institute for the Study of Religion and Society in
Bangalore, and in 1990, he became the governor of Nagaland. M. M. did the unprecedented thing of retiring to his
local village, where he lived among the people, and began a Biblical commentary in the local language. He died
travelling 3rd class on a train from Madras.
(1795-1883) An illiterate freed slave, she was an eloquent critic of slavery and sexism, transfixing audiences
with the force and simplicity of her message of Christian love and tolerance. Her famous "Ain't I a Woman"
speech, delivered to a women's rights convention in 1851, disrupted forever assumptions about race, class and gender
in American society. Visit this
(10th century) Poet, painter and Chinese government official. A follower of Chan (Zen) and Pure Land Buddhism,
he emphasized doing good works, even during his times of exile. His beneficent government policies influenced the
development of FDR's New Deal. [Visit
(?-1986) Japanese diplomat in Lithuania during World War II who defied government policy and issued as many visas
as he could to save thousands of Jews fleeing annihilation by the Nazis. (July 31) Visit this icon-in-progress.
(949-1022) Greek Orthodox monk, mystic, and poet of the Holy Spirit. He heard confessions and gave absolution as
a layman. He often walked naked, "unashamed of the body Christ redeemed." (March 12) [Visit this icon-in-progress.]
(1921/2 - 1942) Tapiedi was a teacher in the mission school of Papua New Guinea. During the Japanessse invasion
of the island Tapiedi remained with his people, as did many of the other missionaries, most of whom were foreigners.
Ironically, Tapiedi was not killed by the Japanese; instead, he dies at the hands of a fellow Papuan, a member
of theOrokaiva tribe named Hivijapa. Hivijapa later converted to Christianity and took the name Hivijapa Jucian
in memory of his victim.[Visit this
TERESA OF AVILA+
(1515-1582) Spanish mystic who defied the Inquisition by welcoming Jewish converts into her Carmelite community.
She taught that we develop our friendship with God in the friendships of community life. Her friendship with John
of the Cross included elements of mentor, goad, critic, spiritual director (informally) and spiritual directee
(formally). They helped one another continue in challenging visionary work despite dangerous hostile scrutiny from
their own communities and the Inquisition. (October 15) Visit this icon.
(4th Century) Wife of Gregory of Nyssa. Monastic historians have tried to eradicate the memory of Theosebeia, but
Gregory was one of the last married bishops before new church laws required that all bishops be celibate monks.
When Gregory wrote of the love, physical longing and communion of bride and bridegroom, or when he explained that
in mystical union with Christ, the new "mother-in-law" of each of our souls is God, he was writing from
his own experience of marriage and married love. We remember Theosebeia with gratitude as Gregory's wife and partner
in body and spirit.
(1883-1969) Following a vision of the universe longing for peace and reconciliation, he understood Budoh (martial
practice) to be for the reconciliation and protection all things. He founded Aikido, "the way of reconciliation,"
which resolves conflict by harmlessly disarming an attacker and avoiding injury even to those another might call
"enemy." Through prayer and physical practice he came independently to the principles of nonviolence
like those of Jesus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King. He said, "To injure an opponent is to injure yourself.
The art of peace is invincible because it contends with nothing." (April 26) Visit this icon-in-progress.
(1909-1943) French Jewish woman classicist and philosopher. Rapturously in love with Jesus Christ, she refused
to seek baptism in order to remain identified with a world seeking redemption. (August 24)
(1757-1834) Anglican priest, hymn writer, and, with his brother, John, founder of the Methodist movement in the
Church of England. Their innovative mission to the working poor offended Church authorities and believers in England's
rigid class structure by teaching the royal and priestly dignity of the least Christian, through an emphasis on
feeling and experience. Students and disciples of the Wesleys fought successfully to end England's lucrative trade
in African slaves and pioneered legal reforms ensuring safe working conditions and fair labor practices. (March
3) Visit this icon-in-progress.
MOTHER LUCY WRIGHT
(1760-1821) Successor to Mother Ann (founder of the Shakers), she is credited with developing choreographed sacred
dance and the use of hymns and anthems in Shaker worship. (February 7)
The Dancing Saints icon will be completed over the next three years. Iconographer Mark Dukes is collecting images
and information about each of these saints, as well as visual references, such as costumes or hair styles, from
their particular historical periods.
Details on the lives of the saints were compiled and edited by Michael Barger, Norma Harrington, Tracy Haughton,
Donald Schell, Margaret Simpson, Leesy Taggart, and Mary Grove.