Immediately following Bishop Basil's visit in late October, a team of five Russian artists, led by Dmitri Shkolnik , arrived at Holy Trinity Church  in Santa Fe, New Mexico to begin work on the temple's iconography. Working all day and into the night six days a week, the team managed to complete the church's dome and apse before returning to their families for the holidays three weeks later.
The choice of icons in the apse was driven by the parish's history and patronal feast. Fr. John Bethancourt has long felt a special guidance from the Mother of God in his efforts to build a mission and grow a parish community over the years. Therefore, the icon of the Mother of God Platytera, "More Spacious than the Heavens," was chosen to preside over the altar space. Above the altar is the icon of Pentecost, Holy Trinity's patronal feast. Towards the ceiling is the icon of the Annunciation, divided by the Holy Trinity at Abrahams table. Together with Pentecost, these icons depict three manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Fr. John also points out that the unusual juxtaposition of the Holy Trinity and Annunciation icons is full of meaning. This icon of the Trinity depicts the visitation of Abraham and Sarah, when the Lord promised to Abraham that he "shall surely become a mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him" (Genesis 18:18). This promise finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Annunciation, through which Jesus Christ comes into the world to save all.
The iconography in the dome is dominated by the image of Christ Pantocrator, surrounded by angels and Old Testament Prophets. Also depicted in the dome are another icon of the Theotokos and an icon of the Holy Table. All the work is accented with beautiful decorative trim in geometric patterns, including some inspired by local New Mexican styles.
The iconographers graciously accepted assistance from several community members with artistic talent, including parish iconographer Mary Jackie Nelson , Juliana MacDonald and Matushka Celeste Ryder from the nearby St. Juliana of Lazarevo parish. Fr. John even had the blessing of wielding a brush on some of the decorative patterns.
Upon completion of this first stage, the parish saw the iconographers off with a lunch, gifts and discussion. Mr. Shkolnik offered a good word to the congregation, describing how he revisits icons he has painted and sometimes doesn't recognize them, because the true completion of any iconography is in the prayers of the faithful. Lord willing, he and his team will be able to return and continue adorning Holy trinity's temple in 2011!
All images courtesy of Andrew J. Frishman, used by permission.