This is an update based on the parishes where the icon has been used so far.

Icon installed on the altar at St Theresa's church in CrossgatesIt arrived in the diocese just in time to be taken to John Henry Newman parish in Crossgates to be welcomed at the Sunday evening mass at St Theresa’s church. The first thing to say about the icon is that it is big! So initial plans by parish priest Fr Pat Wall had to be adapted, as Anne Tracy from Newman parish describes below:-

For a week in February our parish was host to the Pax Christi Icon of Peace. The icon was large, (sadly it proved too large and easily damaged to be safely transported back and forth between the three churches, so it remained in St Theresa’s. Replicas were made however, and taken by Fr Pat to Corpus Christi and St Gregory’s and to both our schools.)

First impression of the icon from a distance was of its great beauty, the intense reds and blues and shining golds illuminated by the candles burning before it. Closer, you began to engage with figures, each telling their story of reconciliation – here were Jacob and Esau running  (almost dancing) to embrace, and treading underfoot the sword of their enmity. Here was St Francis of Assisi, and St Clare, friends and peacemakers. Here was Sarah with the infant Isaac – early forbearers of Judaism, and Hagar nursing Ishmael – forerunners of Islam.

Other less familiar figures from the Orthodox church were present – St Boris and St Gleb who refused as Christians to take up arms, St Sofia and her daughters. Here was Stephen the first martyr and Mary Magdalene, first to proclaim the Resurrection. Here was the Samaritan woman and here the Syrophoenician woman, both marginalised women, non-Jews, who engaged deeply with Jesus. And, at the base of the icon, was the figure of the risen Jesus teaching his disciples the Our Father.
It is said that with an icon, you don’t so much look at it, as allow it to look at you, and indeed as we stood in silence before it, the love and peace of God surely felt present.
Each day in our three churches we prayed for peace, in our families, our neighbourhoods and our world. As a step towards greater understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we began our week by inviting Trish Griffin, who has been an Ecumenical Accompanier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to tell us of her experiences there. Her eyewitness account was often distressing, but always there was hope. Our conversations went on long after the talk as we tried to grapple with the issues and our own thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes religion is blamed as a root cause of the problems of the Middle East. But we heard from Trish how she worked in Bethlehem, in the shadow of the Separation Wall, alongside Palestinian activists, young Israeli men and women who had refused conscription, and Jewish peace-workers including some Rabbis, – Muslims , Jews and of Christians from both the Holy Land and from overseas, working together.  The lovely prayer we said that evening had been composed by people of the three faiths and we prayed for peace and justice as ‘Followers of the one God, Children of Abraham, brothers and sisters.’
The following week was spent in St Joseph’s in Pontefract. Fr Simon Lodge commented “The power of an icon is such that in certain Orthodox churches it is presumed that the image ‘presides’ at gatherings of the praying community. Our western mindset doesn’t quite go that far, but the icon certainly dominated the beginning of our Lenten observance by being on prominent display in the sanctuary in both of our churches at the Sunday Masses.
On the Friday of the icon’s visit we had a special service of Stations of the Cross and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The stations were presented in such a way as to enable a reflection on our own efforts in the realm of peacemaking and reconciliation. After the Stations, time before the Blessed Sacrament gave us the opportunity to pray privately and collectively for peace and for the gift of becoming more non-violent in our own lives.  The icon remained the focus for private visits throughout the day and all week.”
Icon of Peace at Wakefield Cathedral
The icon set up at Wakefield Cathedral

It then went to Wakefield and through the efforts of Deacon Nick Shields (the administrator for the new ecumenical organisation – West Yorkshire Churches Together) was on display at Wakefield Cathedral. It was the centrepiece of four services there on Saturday 11 March.. Additionally, it was also displayed and used at services at St George’s Church in Lupset and at St James, Thornes.

From Wakefield it went to St Joseph’s church in Pudsey. The Icon was displayed on the altar, and a well-attended special Penitential Service was held on Thursday 16th. This was based on a meditation on one of the saints depicted on the Icon, Mary Magdalene. A parishioner commented that the service “really was lovely”.
icon of peace at Holy Trinity Church in Skipton
Lucy Irven and Rev Veronica James set up the icon at Holy Trinity Church in Skipton

This week the icon is in Skipton. Lucy Irven from St Stephen’s has worked with Churches Together in Skipton to arrange a programme there.
In the picture, Lucy is pictured with Rev Veronica James from Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Skipton –where there was a special service of welcome on Monday evening. Later in the week they are going to involve local schools with the icon.

There will be a further update in April.