10 July 2018

Father Bernard Alter: an abbot among the icons

The Basilica of the Dormition in Jerusalem is home to a series of icons and paintings by Abbot Bernard Alter, the Community's superior, who spent most of his life painting them.

Archaeology, Culture, and other Religions

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 The Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the place where according to tradition the Virgin Mary fell asleep in the Lord, is a popular destination for both pilgrims and the local faithful. The basilica is remarkable for its simplicity and beauty, rich in mosaics and icons. Here, Abbot Bernard Alter spent most of his time writing or restoring icons.

Fr Bernard Maria Alter, osb
Superior, Benedictine Community - Dormition Abbey
"I have been living in the Holy Land for 18 years. I had the privilege of learning the art of icon writing thanks to the work of a Russian Orthodox priest, Archimandrite Zeinoun. I have always worked following his style.”
In his studio, Father Bernard still preserves the first tools he used to write icons together with the natural colours he collected in different countries of the world. In every painting there is a desire to express hymns and prayers, so as to make each piece a true work of blessed art. 

Fr Bernard Maria Alter, osb
Superior, Benedictine Community - Dormition Abbey
"I see the icons as an art to be preached. I am inspired by God. My work truly reflects the teaching of the Holy Bible and the proclamation of the word. From an artistic point of view, I compare icons to the birth of a child: icons must radiate vitality. When I paint, I feel like I am praying".
Fr Bernard Maria Alter, osb
Superior, Benedictine Community - Dormition Abbey
"The Benedictine monks are known for their knowledge of painting. And I have also embarked on the same path. I was able, thanks to the human nature of Jesus Christ, to perceive Him, touch Him and represent Him in icons". 

Abbot Bernard donated his artistic talents to the community. Long hours of meditation and prayers to paint episodes of the Holy Scriptures on icons.