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Luray parishioner paints icon of St. Thomas More

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“St. Thomas More, forevermore.”

Not only was this the motto of the Philadelphia high school where Bishop Michael F. Burbidge’s father attended, but it is now memorialized on an icon of St. Thomas More given to the Bishop.

Don Evans, a parishioner of Our Lady of the Valley Church in Luray, painted the icon and presented it to Bishop Burbidge after Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington Aug. 15.

After attending Bishop Burbidge’s installation Mass Dec. 6, 2016, Evans was inspired to create the icon.

“For prudent reasons, the high school eventually closed, but what remained until the present day is the steadfast spirit of the alumni. Their motto, which appears on license plates and other items, is respectful and dear to their hearts: ‘Saint Tommy More, forevermore!’” the Bishop said during his installation homily.

After getting the opportunity to study under a Russian iconographer, Evans has been painting icons for 12 years. He has a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in fine arts from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He currently is working on a woodcarving of an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“An icon is a prayer,” said Evans. “The artist prays before and during the painting. It is meant to be prayed with, to focus one's thoughts on the saint and a closer relationship with God.”

Evans said this was the sixth time he painted St. Thomas More. “They say a saint chooses us for icons. I think St. Thomas More chose me.”

“When you spend several months in front of a saint, you get to know that saint quite well,” he said. “It’s a process of studying what the saint’s life is about, and the process of painting it brings you closer to the saint and the Holy Family. There’s a moment when you are painting when the icon comes to life.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018