Once, long ago, St. Nicholas and St. John Cassian left heaven to walk through Russia. They passed through Moscow, with its magnificent churches and palaces, and wandered the Russian forests and steppes. It was spring, and the ground was beginning to thaw. As they rounded a bend in the road, they came upon a peasant… Read more »

When Brother Robert returned to secular life in 1982, to pursue his vocation as a religious artist, the example of St. Oscar Romero helped him find his way. Like Robert, this bishop had spent the first part of his life isolated from the concerns of those on society’s margins. It took a violent encounter with… Read more »

As Muslim armies moved across Asia Minor a thousand years ago and conquered Christian towns and cities, they were confronted by the haunting gaze of Byzantine icons in the churches and monasteries they took for their own use. Their religion forbade any depiction of God or holy people, especially in areas where they worshipped. Eventually… Read more »

Three world religions consider Abraham a father figure. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam each trace their monotheistic faith back to this ancient man from Mesopotamia. Members of these three religions have also spent centuries hating one another. Their hatred has frequently broken out into violent conflict. During one such period, in the 12th century, a Christian… Read more »

For centuries St. Martin de Porres has held a broom in religious images to emphasize his humility. Since there are so few canonized Black saints, emphasizing his humility at the expense of his other accomplishments has deprived Black Catholics, and especially children, of the positive role model he might be in their lives today. Brother… Read more »

What happened in the Byzantine East in the first centuries of Christian history has never yet been surpassed. Greek, Egyptian, and Syrian theologians found ways to unfold the mystery of Christ that challenge and nourish believers even today. It was a time of exciting intellectual debate and growth. By the end of the first millennium,… Read more »

An essential element in the icons Brother Robert creates comes from his Franciscan roots. While each of his icons has Franciscan qualities, his Seraph on a rusted trashcan lid is completely Franciscan. Seraphim are the highest rank of angels, whose only task is to praise God ceaselessly. Depicting something as exalted as a Seraph on… Read more »

About ten years after Brother Robert painted the icon of Jesus Christ Liberator, an Orthodox bishop publically denounced it in a magazine because it was not historically accurate. Jesus was not of African descent, he said. Icons must reflect what is written in the Bible or historical truth. The bishop obviously believed that Byzantine icons… Read more »