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Diocesan News

Centenary Icon on tour

By James Buchok


WINNIPEG — As part of the centennial year celebrations in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, a Centenary Icon of the Holy Family was commissioned and is currently on tour, visiting churches throughout the archdiocese.

The tour began in June at St.-François Xavier Church in St.-François Xavier, Man., moving to St. Augustine of Canterbury Church in Brandon. The icon is currently on display at Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church in Camperville, Man., also known as the Cathedral of the North. Further locations and dates will be announced on the archdiocesan website,

After its tour of the archdiocese, the icon will be placed on permanent display at St. Mary’s Cathedral on the closing weekend of the jubilee year, December 4 - 6.

The icon was designed and written by Andre J. Prevost, originally from Manitoba and now based in Vancouver. It is based on the Archdiocese of Winnipeg’s centenary theme, Proclaiming Christ Always, including the Holy Family with emphasis on St. Joseph as patron of the archdiocese. The icon was unveiled at the centennial mass May 3 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

The icon is 64 inches wide by 43 inches high and has been written on wood. The framing, sky and haloes are covered with 24K Italian patent gold. Gold is the traditional symbol of God’s light. The background of the icon is a landscape representing Manitoba.

The focus is Our Lady and St. Joseph presenting young Jesus to the world, the initial proclaiming. In the upper right-hand corner is depicted the 6,000-year-old Aboriginal meeting place at the Forks of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. The City of Winnipeg and the archdiocese are represented by St. Mary’s Cathedral and buildings at the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street. Two more churches are also included: St. Vital Church, where the founder of Manitoba, Louis Riel, attended mass, and St. John Brebeuf Church, chosen for its dedication to a Canadian martyr and its contemporary architecture.

With the Forks being historically central to Winnipeg, there is also a representation of the Oodena Celebration Circle.
In the centre, above the Holy Family, the arch represents the front entrance of St. Mary’s Cathedral while the flooring replicates the floor of the cathedral, anchoring the icon within the cathedral. Within the arch, the landscape represents the lake districts of the province.

The upper left-hand corner contains a representation of the Western Manitoba portion of the archdiocese, with its rolling hills and fields. The four depicted churches are representational of the archdiocese’s presence and work: Good Shepherd Church in Portage la Prairie, St. François Xavier Church, the oldest church in the archdiocese and in Western Canada west of the Red River, St. Viator Church in Dauphin, and St. Helen’s Church in Shoal Lake.

On either side of the Holy Family is a compilation of historical personages as well as a representation of the varied population of the archdiocese. At left, Pope Benedict XV is portrayed as presenting the Papal Bull to Archbishop Alfred Arthur Sinnott in 1915, creating the Archdiocese of Winnipeg. In a second row are Archbishop Alexandre-Antonin Tache, first archbishop of the Diocese of St. Boniface, which was created in 1847, and out of which was created the Archdiocese of Winnipeg; a representative of the Métis people in traditional garb of buckskin and beadwork and sash; and a representative of a modern office worker and of the Filipino people.

At right are three modern children, learning of and continuing the ongoing proclamation of Christ, and a historical depiction of a nun with the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary representing all women’s religious orders in the archdiocese. In a second row is a woman bringing to mind the five First Nations within the archdiocese, dressed in traditional garb of buckskin and beadwork, a blend of Ojibwa and Dakota motifs.

Manitoba’s diverse ethnic groups are depicted by a woman in a blouse, head scarf and apron, and a man from the agricultural and farming community. The mid-central background is a simplified representation of the open plains with an upper area in a harvest colour.

Professional quality prints of the Centenary Icon of the Holy Family are available in various sizes. For details see

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