A couple of years ago my dh commissioned an iconographer to write an icon of St. Melangell for my birthday. Due to circumstances beyond her control it took longer to complete than anticipated, but time was really not an issue for me, and as I understand after talking with others who had icons written by other iconographers, 2 years is generally about right.
After viewing Denise’s work on her website I knew right away she would be able to capture what I perceive, from what little is offered on her life, the spirit of St. Melangell. Upon receiving the icon in July, I see that I was right.
When Denise posted a picture of this, her latest work on her website, soliciting feedback from members of a mutual discussion list I was a bit surprised at the controversy it generated. There was a comment made about the concern over following “traditional guidelines/rules”. In this person’s defense I understand where he was coming from. I am all for tradition, it keeps us faithful. true to those things that should remained unchanged. Still every now and again trueness is captured in an untraditional style that can not be denied, nor dismissed. I feel this is very much such a case.
Saint Melangell spoke to me, when I became Orthodox, officially, through her love for all God’s creatures, great and small, and the importance that she taught by example, of protecting these gifts from God and being a good steward of the environment. One of the criticism of this icon was that she looked a little too wild, and was likened to “Xena warriour princess” or something similar. I imagine that Saint Melangell was probably pretty close to this characterization, in that she did fight for the safety of the little rabbit that found shelter in the folds of her garment while she prayed in a field. Living as a hermit for 15 years in the wilderness one can imagine her hair unbound, moved freely in any breeze….thank you Denise for this wonderful representation.