BOSTON — Priest-monk Loukas of Xenofontos Monastery on Mount Athos is a renowned and prominent iconographer in the Orthodox Church. He is creating the iconography for St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and Manhattan’s National Shrine at Ground Zero.
Prof. Loukas recently traveled to Boston, depicting Mount Athos during his photography exhibition at the Maliotis Cultural Center of Hellenic College – Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
His interview with The National Herald bean with a question about the status of St. Nicholas iconography, to which Fr. Loukas replied, “We have finished the west wall of the nave and now we are working on the east and the rest, north and south”.
Regarding when the iconography will be completed, he said “we think by the end of October”. When asked why it took so long, he replied that “the architectural structure was difficult, and even today there are problems that need to be solved, it is a difficult structure”.
Regarding the building in general, Fr. Loukas said: “I can say that it is very good, it illustrates the work of Mr. Calatrava. It’s something that coincides with the high-rise district, with all these contemporary New York things, I think it fits in well,” with its surroundings, as New York City officials would have demanded. York and Port Authorities of New York and New Jersey. .
When asked if the structure reflected Orthodox architecture, he replied that “the Orthodox structure is characterized by the dome above the nave. The white color is reminiscent of the beautiful churches of the Cyclades islands, and therefore I do not think that the nave of Saint Nicholas does not coincide with Hellenism and Orthodoxy.
Pr. Loukas says he follows “the hagiographic school of the 14e century, with some other influences besides the Macedonian school such as the school of Constantinople and Mount Athos.
He learned the art of iconography as he put it, “on Mount Athos from older monks. I had found fathers in our monastery who were iconographers and I studied near them, but whenever I found an older iconographer I approached him, asked questions and observed him. I also learned by looking at ancient iconography in the Protato Church of Mount Athos and other churches.
He said of his efforts, “iconography is a great thing – it transports you to another world, to the world of Byzantium, but also to another reality, which is Orthodoxy, the Church”.
He was asked if, while painting an icon of Christ or saints, he was also conversing with them. “Of course,” Fr. Louka said, “but this is not a conversation with words; it is a mystagogue – a communication without words. You say nothing in front of the icons, but you feel an interaction. We speak in silence, but also with the feeling of being close to God, in the presence of God.
Prof. Loukas praised the Community saying that “you Greek-Americans are a glorious chapter in the life of Hellenism as St. Nicholas Church is also a glorious chapter in the life of Hellenism. Hellenism. You are doing great things – you are helping the Ecumenical Patriarchate; you help the Church in general; you are close to the Church and that tells us a lot of things, which we are happy about. I can say that Omogenia respects the traditions of Greece and Orthodoxy.
When asked what attracted him to monasticism, he replied, “I can tell you that I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never understand it. It is a call from God, which we do not control. God controls it.
Pr. Loukas entered the monastery of Xenofontos at the age of 21. His brother had left before him. Pr. Loukas said “I wanted to become a monk and he helped me.”