Byzantine Icon of Saint Teresa of the Andes
This icon was painted by the Carmelites Sister of the Carmel of Harissa (Lebanon), who have an byzantine iconography workshop. They already painted icons of several other saints of Carmel. They wrote the following commentary of the icon :
The icon of the little Teresa of Jesus of the Andes would like to reveal the secret of her holiness which radiated through the Church as soon as she passed the threshold of heaven. The angels in the center unveil her: an union of intense love with her crucified and risen Jesus, put as a seal on her soul symbolized by the white cloth she holds in her hands. The icon of the Lord reproduces His features and the wound of His side in the "Do not touch me" icon representing his apparition to St. Mary Magdalene, this "mad lover", after his Resurrection.
Becoming mad of love in her turn, according to her expression: "That Mad Lover has made me fall madly in love with Himself", the little Chilean Carmelite, as a thirsty deer (represented at the bottom of the icon) only aspires to be consumed in love for her God who will take her well before she reaches twenty years of age. Actually, if her thirst is burning, God’s thirst for her soul is even more.
In the interior cellar, on her right, where Jesus in hidden in the Host – core of her life – flows a torrent of love which meets hers and unites it to him. From this union flows apostolic fruitfulness for the Church, for which she has been ardently praying even before entering Carmel: "I feel insatiable hunger and thirst that souls may turn to God and seek Him." In the Los Andes Carmel she will immolate herself for them. The Carmel is represented by a mountain where the cellar is hidden. There, in the mystery of the Eucharist, she finds her Beloved: "Search for Jesus in the Eucharist, she said, and you will live with Him as the Most Holy Virgin did in Nazareth", which she will do during the eleven months of her short life in Carmel.
This union of her soul with the soul of Mary is reflected on the icon not only by the habit of Carmel and the white mantel she is clothed with, but also by the whiteness of snow covering the Cordillera of the Andes at her left. This snow which never disappear from the Cordillera symbolizes the whiteness of the soul of the little Andes′ saint which said: "My mirror must be Mary. Since I am her daughter I must resemble her. Thus shall I resemble Jesus."
She will fully dive into the Mystery of Redemption in the Order of the Virgin, as Our Lord told her shortly before her entrance into Carmel as she was only seventeen: "He told me that He had chosen me as victim, that I would climb Calvary with him, that together we would endeavor the conquest of souls" (from her Diary, November 16, 1917). Actually, for her, the Carmelite only lives in order "to pray for sinners, to spend one’s whole life sacrificing oneself, never seeing the fruits of prayer and sacrifice and yet united to God so that, in this way, His Redeeming Blood circulates in her, and in the Church, in its members, so that they may become holy." The splendor of her face, her serenity and peace, her open hand in trustful prayer express the song of her hear: "God is infinite joy."
In this pure and peaceful joy she seems to hover over everything that passes and bathe in the glory (symbolized by gold) where her name is written for ever. "In heaven, how small everything about this passing existence will seem!". This passing life, represented on her left, seems to be carried away with her and transfigured by this love of God flowing into the soul totally giving itself to Him. From now on, in the soul of the little saint of the Andes, the thirst of God and the thirst of the creature join together to be quenched in her, since, being only one with her Jesus, she can give God to souls and souls to God.
LDVM and SJ
© Carmel of Theotokos, Harissa (Liban)