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Ecumenical Eucharist Celebrating the Feast of St. Martin of Tours Includes Unveiling of Icon

Friday, November 11, 2011 - 8:00am to 8:30am
Goodson Chapel
dsteenburg@div.duke.edu or (919) 660-3539

The Duke Divinity School Morning Prayer Service at Goodson Chapel on Veterans' Day will celebrate the feast day of Martin of Tours, patron saint of military personnel and chaplains, and include the unveiling of an icon.

Jo Bailey Wells, a professor and director of the Anglican Episcopal House of Studies at the Divinity School, will officiate at an ecumenical Eucharist during the service that is open to the public.

The original icon of Martin of Tours that will be unveiled was written by Father William Hart McNichols, a Jesuit priest in New Mexico who has been writing icons for many years and whose work has been placed around the world including the Vatican.

The icon was written for the Divinity School student group Milites Christi (Soldiers of Christ), especially for the After the Yellow Ribbon conference the group is convening at Duke over Veterans' Day weekend to consider ways of naming and healing the hidden wounds of war.

The 12-by-15-inch icon features a head-and-shoulders full face view of Martin wearing a robe and holding a broken sword. There is a halo in gold leaf, and written into the blue background, in calligraphy, is "'I am a soldier of Christ. I will not kill."

"It was commissioned because the conference and Milites Christi seek to find ways of engaging in Christian faithfulness with military personnel, and St. Martin is an early example of just such engagement," said student Stephanie Gehring, a conference organizer. "It is our hope that Martin's mediating presence between the church and the state can help guide Divinity School seminarians to be better equipped to minister to the military members and government folks in our midst in North Carolina, the United States, and the greater world.

"The conference also seeks to find artistic ways of engaging with war and the wounds of war, which is why we chose to make the financial commitment to commission an icon and make it an important part of the conference," Gehring said.

The icon, which was purchased through contributions from the Divinity School community, will eventually hang in a hallway in the Langford Building as part of an art series, "Saints Through the Ages."