Commentary on the Nicholas Tsai Icon

Jim Forest comments on the icon of Dorothy Day by Nicholas Tsai.

Nicholas Tsai Icon of Dorothy Day
A painting by Nicholas Brian Tsai. The original hangs in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 2808 Lake Shore Ave., Oakland, CA 94610; tel 510-451-1790. The painter is a member of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco.

He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.

He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.

Psalm 113:7-9

He [Tsai] hasn’t given Dorothy a halo because that’s for the Church to do rather than the iconographer, but he has placed her head slightly within a halo-shaped icon of the Holy Trinity.

This is something I have never seen before but it seems apt. It makes me think of the remark Dorothy made (it may have been to Robert Coles): “If I have accomplished anything in my life, it is because I wasn’t embarrassed to talk about God.”

The Holy Trinity is also the primary community, in which all community, all communication, all communion, is rooted. For Dorothy, her life was those three C’s.

The inspiration behind the original of the Holy Trinity icon, the work of St. Andrei Rublev in the 15th century, was the teaching of Rublev’s spiritual father, St. Sergius of Radonezh: “The contemplation of the Holy Trinity destroys all discord.”

Similar Posts