The Shroud of Turin and The Tilma with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Both images are Icons.
What is an Icon? An Icon is said to be "written" not painted because it is sacred art that has a purpose. It is a Catechism in color. Every line, every detail means and teaches something. That something is a theological truth about God and man's relationship to Him. Icons are spiritual doorways because when we contemplate them, there is an internal movement towards God incarnate, which is what Icons are, and when we move toward God, He moves towards us.
Icons are God incarnate because they are the physical manifestation of theological truth. They make visible the invisible. It was said that every man and woman are icons because we are made in the image and likeness of God, male and female He created them so to see a "persons" is to see the likeness of God. Perhaps that is why we greet one another with a gesture of reverence. Some cultures shake hands and some bow in the presence of others.
So now, in a world where the belief of the supernatural is almost lost, we are once again in need of a simple catechism. Like children, we need to be re-engaged through the beauty of pictures. "Beauty will save the world" and perhaps sacred art is the very beauty Dostoyevsky was speaking of.
So what do I think they are Icons of? Well, several things but here are four of the biggest. I believe they are Icons of these four things.
1. The Wedding Feast
2. The Eucharist
3. The Redemption of Man and Woman
4. The Song of Songs
1. The Wedding Feast:
TILMA; Tilma worn during marriage ceremonies, worn on the body as a covering. Bridegroom and Bride are tied together as a symbol of their union during ceremony of wedding. It also is used to carry children later, in the fold which is then tied around the waist of the person. The Tilma is worn by average people therefore revealing that ALL are called to Union and Communion. Two pieces of cloth were sewn together, in fact the center of this cloth is the exact middle of the image. It is where two have become one. Two pieces of cloth become one garment. This also brings dignity to male and female he created them as marriage is only between a man and a woman. In the image, I content the exact center of the tilma is also where the divine mercy image is in the robe. But that is another thing.
SHROUD; The Shroud is believed to be the table cloth of the last supper. This is the wedding feast of of the lamb, the table an earthly banquet but the feast is on Jesus Christ, the true food and true drink. This last supper is THE wedding feast and we are ALL called to the Wedding feast. The cloth of the shroud is two pieces sewn together. The two become one once again revealing the theme of "marriage". Also revealing the dignity of male and female he created them as marriage is between a man and a woman.
2. The Eucharist
TILMA; The image of Mary, with Christ incarnate, is God made flesh. This is a Eucharistic image. She is the tabernacle that brings us Jesus. She is the ark of the New Covenant that holds manna for us. Even the words of Juan Diego "is this the land of the flesh, the land of the corn, the land of my people" is indicative that the food of his people is linked with flesh. Fr. Miguel Guadalupe wrote in 7 Veils of OLGuadalupe, that even the image is shaped like a ear of corn, the fruit!
SHROUD; The image of Jesus, on the tablecloth is the very meal upon which we are receiving. The miraculous impression, a foreshadowing of what would continue on earth at the hands of the priest. Jesus uttered the words over the cloth upon which hours later he would be covered. He broke the bread and gave it to us as true food and true drink. Later, his body, broken would be laid upon the cloth once more, and at the moment of his consecration, of the fulfillment of scripture, he rises and in an instant his glorified body manifests the image, makes visible the invisible, onto the table cloth.
3. The Redemption of Man and Woman; The New Adam and The New Eve
TILMA; Not only do the constellation's placed precisely over her image where theological truths are conveyed, but she reveals that her immaculate conception is woman fully participating in the redemption of man. Just as Eve took of the apple and ate, so did Adam and so BOTH fell from the glory of what God had intended for them. In God's plan for the redemption of man, He could have done it by any means He saw fit, yet, He chose for the participation of mankind, and begun so through A woman. Male and female He created them, so would not God make it known that male and female they are redeemed? If we are made in his image, male and female, then we see how beautiful it is that before Christ takes His flesh from her, the merits of His sacrifice are applied to her at the very moment of her conception. OLGuadalupe appears to St. Juan Diego on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, linking this truth to the image.
(Copyright, Saint Ann Catholic Church and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary)
The truth of Redemption "written" in this icon is that God makes all things new. Eve, of her own free will, in the garden of paradise, free from concupiscence and free from sin, she took from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, the fruit and ate it. She brought it into her body, through an act of the will and it bore death to the world.
This image reveals through Iconography, that Mary, The New Eve, free from sin (immaculately conceived) brings into her virginal garden (an icon of eden) with an act of her free will, she brings into her garden the fruit of ALL KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL and through her yes, brings life into the world. Not just spiritual life but the physical life of Jesus Christ full man and full God. "The Body makes visible the invisible".
Even the process of Iconography reveals a theological truth and Our Lady of Guadalupe is no exception. For instance, her inner robe is a rose or earth color and is understood by the Nahuatl Indians as meaning she was created from the dust of the earth. Through the lens of Iconography we can see that ALMOST ALL OF THE NAHUATL GLYPHS hold a message NEVER BEFORE considered because we have not looked upon the image through the LENS OF ICONOGRAPHY.
Through the lens of Iconography, we would first understand that the clay bole used on the image as well as the gold leafing found there have a HUGE message and symbolic meaning!
The clay symbolizes the earth from which Adam (and all humanity) was created. With
the gold leaf, you "breathe life" into the clay, as God breathed life into Adam.
Just as raw clay is fired into a handsome and durable pot, applying gold leaf "fires"
the clay bole into luminous beauty, reflecting earthly and heavenly light. So through the lens of Iconography, the message found in OLGuadalupe reaffirms that She is the New Eve and that where I see the torso of Christ in her inner robe which is done in these clay tones, IS the New Adam and the gold leafing, reveals the breath of God, the Divine Light.
SHROUD; The New Adam, free from sin, with an act of his free will allows the manifestation of our sins, the spiritual depravity, to make itself visible upon His body so as to bare it and then birth us all through his sacrifice into His Father's heavenly kingdom. The New Adam's glorified and redeemed body is what created the image onto this holy cloth.
4. The Song of Songs
"Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, and come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land."
(Song of Songs 2:10-12)
It is as if Mary is being invited to rise and be assumed into heaven! To demonstrate the redemption of woman as well as man has been accomplished. God unties all of the knots that Adam and Even tied. He makes all things new.
Tilma; Mary is both sister and bride as well as Mother. As sister, she has provided the flesh and blood, without a biological father, thus acting as a twin might. The splitting off from one person and the creation of another. This is what took place when Adam was asleep and Eve came from His side. There was not a union of two become one flesh. So in the tilma we see Mary, offering her side, her flesh, for the Son of God to be given the hands and feet upon which to give His life for the Redemption of the world. The constellation of Gemini is over her torso. The Nahuatl indians wrote in glyphs and not letters. There way to write the most beautiful of love songs and poetry was the glyphs of flowers and flower clusters. Music, was the highest form of prayer and to dance and sing was the highest form of worship. The flower glyphs on the robe of our lady is "written" by God revealing to the indians this is a divine love song of the greatest form of love and of worship of the one true God. To love, free from concupiscence.
Even now, I have been told that Msgr. Eduardo Chavez has placed pins into the center of the flowers and tested his theory to see if a song or melody would manifest and indeed, there is. I have believed this from the moment I began to see that OLGuadalupe is an Icon of the New Eve. She is the Bride that sings her beautiful song to the Bridegroom. That song is an invitation for the world to ponder the biblical book of the bible and discern and contemplate the love poetry of our God in the Song of Songs. We are called to love our sister and our bride. Jesus himself, desires for us to be nourished at his mother's breast, as we see in many pictures of the saints that had mystical experiences of this. We are called, to be brothers and sisters by sharing in His mother's milk and in fact her protection under her mantle. She is His sister , His mother and His Bride. I have also found significant writings of Blessed Amadeus as well as Fr. Miguel Sanchez that believed this image had a message for the church as the lady of the apocalypse. He believed that she would be a great intercessor of healing and evangelization to the world. He even speculated that the flowers on the hill, which were many, held great significance to the story. I have researched these flowers and agree. There were many flowers gathered on Tepeyac hill and I believe they are all significant to the story being told through Iconography to the Church of the 21st century.
SHROUD; There has been the discovery of the flowers within the image. Not only has there been similarities to iconography, but there is even some experts that believe that there are "cartoon" shaped flowers on the image. I suspect that they also would play a song if pins were placed into the centers and that if played while the tilma song played, would create a melody and harmony. These images are receptive and the parallels and similarities are great. These are only SOME of what I have found and I am a nobody, a no one, a mother of 8. But, St. Juan Diego was also an average everyday person, and perhaps sometimes, the littlest ones are the ones that hear. I could be wrong, but I believe we are all being invited to contemplate the images of the Shroud and the Tilma in light of one another (also with Divine Mercy).
For more info on other areas I am developing, please read the other articles related to this on my blog.