The iconic mural of Christ in Majesty, now installed in St Croix Catholic School of Stillwater, MN, is a variation on an ancient iconographic Christian theme. Christ in Majesty, known as Christ in Glory in the Christian East, is a Western version of Christ, Lord of All, coming again.
Most commonly, Christ is imaged blessing with His right hand, and holding a scroll, open book, or scroll with His left. The tradition also contains depictions of Christ with open arms or holding a cross. In our mural, Christ welcomes and blesses with His right hand, and holds His Holy Cross, both a reference to the Redemption accomplished through His Passion and Death, but also a symbol of St. Croix Catholic School and the St. Croix Valley. The words St. Croix” translates into English as “Holy Cross.”
Christ is imaged in regal garments, the colors of which symbolize humanity, divinity and royalty. He bears a nimbus, also called a halo, as a symbol of radiant light beaming forth from His nature. Within His nimbus is a cross, for it is through His Cross that Christ has saved. On either side of His head are the letters Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet signifying that Christ is the first and the last, beginning and end. He is depicted with His sacred wounds, a symbol of the nature of His Kingship as the Lord who suffered and died out of love for His people.
Christ is imaged seated upon an arch in the shape of a bow, which is a symbol in Psalms of God’s judgment. A bow is also symbolic of God’s covenant, as found in the story of Noah. In Revelation, St. John sees a vision of a bow around the throne of God, interpreted to mean that Christ will come to judge with mercy and compassion.
Christ is seated within concentric circles, a shape know as a mandorla, an Italian word for almond. The mandorla is a shape in iconography associated with divine light surrounding the figure of a holy person.
Surrounding Christ are heavenly hosts. Those closest to Christ are Seraphim, imaged with six wings and depicted in red to signify they are on fire with the love of God. On either side of the Seraphim are angels, bowing in humility and praise to Christ, holding banners which echo their eternal hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.
To facilitate the amount of time that would be needed to complete the iconic mural of Christ in Majesty it was painted off site and later installed at St Croix Catholic School. The mural was created on painters canvas set up at Art Reach also in Stillwater. A team of nine worked under the direction of Master Iconographer Nicholas Markell.
After the sketch of the mural was transferred to the canvas, we used acrylic paints to create the iconic mural in much the same fashion that we would typically use egg tempera to write icons on boards. The phrase “write” an icon is used because an icon teaches a truth that the viewer then reads much the same way we read from the written Scriptures. We first painted with dark earthy colors called roskrish, a Russian word which translates as "beautiful chaos." From there we built up lights and floats in layers to produce the effect of light radiating forth from within the person of Christ and the angels. Gold leaf was added to the nimbi as well as lettering and other details to the mural. This process took four months.
The canvas was then transferred to the school and adhered to the wall using clay based adhesive. This process included setting up the scaffolding, applying the adhesive to the canvas and smoothing out the iconic mural.