Coptic Icon: The Saviour and Ava Mina
CHAPTER ONE: AVA MINA
The goal of analysing a church icon is to understand icons and appreciate their purpose in our Orthodox Church. The value of the Church icons are far more than aesthetic. This series will analyse the church icons on a spiritual level – not just focusing on the wood, oil, paints, structure and materials used. Church icons are cherished in the Church and our homes as a blessing and representation of Heaven- where the Saints reside with God.
The icon of Ava Mina is a classic icon. Ava Mina was the leader of the monastery. The second figure in the icon is our Lord Jesus Christ placing his right hand on Ava Mina’s shoulder. This symbolises the passionate relationship and friendship that Ava Mina had with our Lord Jesus Christ. Regarding the background of the icon, this icon was painted after Ava Mina’s departure to Heaven, from the monastery that he served in at Old Cairo. Hence, the cross was deliberately placed on the icon as a way for the artist to remind the viewers that our Lord Jesus Christ’s cross , gave Ava Mina the promise ( for all humans) of a Resurrection.
Now taking a close look at the eyes of Ava Mina and our Lord Jesus Christ. Both have their left eye looking directly forward and their right eye darting towards each other. Ava Mina looking at our Lord Jesus Christ, illustrates that he was humble and served people with the intention to bring Christ to them- not human praise. This is just one example of how reading icons is like learning a language. Too often, we think superficially and consider the purpose of icons being portraits of a saint in the best light. In truth, the purpose of icons are meant to inspire us in their lifestyles and sacrifice for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, I end with our Lord Jesus Christ’s declaration to his disciples that Saint John recorded: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you” ( John 15:15). It is such a wonderful declaration that our Lord Jesus Christ considers you and I as His friends. Hence, it is of no surprise as portrayed in the icon, that Ava Mina was fortunate to pursue such a friendship with our Lord Jesus Christ. May you and I be inspired by Ava Mina and put the hard yards to pursue one of the best things that could happen to our lives- a friendship like no other, a friendship with our Lord Jesus Christ.