Icons reveal their beauty to visually impaired people in a special book

| updated on 11/26/19 1:23 PM
Photo: dveri.bg


Christians carry the Lord in their hearts, but they also yearn for art inspired by God such as music and the images of saints. At the same time the church is trying to find a way towards people’s hearts in order to strengthen their faith.

Embracing the mission of God's truth reaching every person, the “Dveri” Center for Educational Initiatives and the Bulgarian Orthodox Diocese of Western and Central Europe, in the presence of Patriarch Neophyte, presented the collection "Icons Talk", created especially for the blind.

The edition features 12 adapted icons and sacred images from the Rila Monastery and braille text reads about the evangelical origins and significance of major Christian holidays. For the first time, people with visual impairment can touch relief-painted images and get acquainted with ​​religious painting.


“The book allows visually impaired people to touch the world of the Orthodox icon, see with their spiritual eyes its beauty and understand the messages it sends to us,” says Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe. “This edition is our attempt to share with them the invisible for the eyes grace of the kingdom of God; to make them acquainted with the image of Jesus Christ as seen in icons from the Rila Monastery. I hope this book is a good start for a fruitful mission among our blind compatriots.”

The book is based on another collection called "21 Icons from the Rila Monastery", from which the images were selected and were described in audio.


“Two of the most beautiful icons of the Rila Monastery – those of Christ and the Holy Mother of God are presented in the book,” says Zlatina Karavulcheva from the Center for Educational Initiatives. “The other ten depict the greatest feast of the Lord and the Virgin Mary, including Christmas and Resurrection, Pentecost, etc. Interestingly, these icons are little known to regular visitors and even to some monks, as they are high in the iconostasis of one of the side chapels of the church. But with the assistance of the monks, they were displayed after restoration in their entire splendor. With our unique collection for the blind, we have made a step forward and it is worth for church museums to consider presenting icons with a brief description in Braille text. There are already many galleries in the West introducing this practice, and it is not so difficult to be done.”

Diana Tomova and Vanya DimitrovaSermon is very important for blind people, but it should also be accompanied by relief images, said Diana Tomova, author of the idea for the collection and a teacher in religion at the Louis Braille School for Visually Impaired Children.

Many years ago, the icon from Jerusalem was here, Diana Tomova says and turns to her former student Vanya Dimitrova, who is a 29-year-old editor and musician today. “She was a kid when we went with half of the pupils to bow in front of the icon. Then one of the children asked me if he could touch it and I told him that he would actually touch the glass and will not understand anything, as someone has to tell them in detail what the icon looks like. In our book they can understand a lot by the touching the relief image.”

“Touching may not completely compensate for your sight, but it is still exciting to touch, to know where the right hand of the Lord is, so you can kiss it. I remember the grace I felt from the icon of Jerusalem. Even if I could not touch it, I felt the power of God from the icon in my soul.”


English: Alexander Markov

Photos: dveri.bg and Diana Tsankova

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