• Mary Jane Miller

Pentecost Icons are about the descent of Holy Spirit, why so few women in Byzantine icons?

Updated: Jul 4

Women’s voices and their images have been lacking in Christian theology and in Byzantine Icon Painting for more than 2,000 years. In the past, Christian art has typically focused on Mary, Mother of Jesus whose holiness the everyday woman could not possibly attain. She also is praised for her obedience and silence Her heart is filled with love yet no reference to mind. It is documented that inquisitive women like myself were around in Christ’s time, listening to His message and learning from Him. Where are the images of women and Theology? Where are the histories of Women’s Unexpected Treasure revealed through wisdom?



Women’s Unexpected Treasure


Catholic Church teachings as we know them were once considered unchangeable. Newly discovered texts and contemporary phrasing of old theology is changing the interpretations of Christian theology. We cannot help but continually re-examine who we are in God. The movement underway for a modern Catholic ideology about women is changing the discussion inside the church and out. 




The book I have created, In Light of Women, is filled with new Byzantine Icon Painting  and fits perfectly into contemporary conversations about women.The visual language of the sacred art of iconography has given voice to my own rebellious spirit. The book highlights new attitudes: that women can stand equally beside men in a more contemporary and integrated vision of the world. Christ’s teachings regarded women in a variety of roles with respect and inclusion. The consequences of editing them out of theology has hurt everyone. I am deeply respectful of traditional iconography and its long knowledgeable history. There is no harm or heresy in opening discussion with  the male-dominated church landscape of today’s theology.


In Light of Women


In Light of Women Our 72-page book incorporates 24 full-color icons, The images are juxtaposed with text that includes religious history, religious context and my own reflection inspired by my meditation and thoughts during 25 years of dedication to this ancient technique and prayer form. Millers Byzantine Icon Painting are contemporary icons, done in the ancient medium of tempera which utilizes a mixture of egg yolk and ground earth pigments. The book includes a thorough introduction and three distinct sections that build to my most dynamic and contemporary works highlighted in the book.


Three Parts to the Book


Part 1, Mary Icons; explore the history of Mary’s image in iconography through the tradition’s most popular images of her. Part 2, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; explores icons that were inspired by the Gnostic text with some creative insights from traditional theology. Part 3, Feminine Voice; explores classic icons interpreted with women added to them.

This book In Light of Women will prove to be New Theology, a Women’s Unexpected Treasure.


The book is timely, important, interesting, with new perspectives and questions to be asked. In the time of Christ I like to think any women named Mary was special. Mary was the name given to women who were teachers, intelligent, healers, mystics and more. Mary walks with us in this new age and is just beginning to speak.

The book of contemporary Byzantine Icon Painting lends itself as a great resource for books groups and women’s studies, or lectures to stimulate dialogue one icon at a time.

Purchase a copy on AMAZON


#iconography, #Byzantine, #eggtempera




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