This Times of Israel article by Sarah Benhaida highlights the sacred craft of iconography studied by students at the Bethlehem Icon Center. Palestinian locals as well as pilgrims from around the world participate in icon painting courses. What struck me was the attention to detail in the way products are sourced for each unique, handmade painting:
Animal-hair brushes are selected in Jerusalem or even London, and the pigments come directly from the Holy Land. Hand-ground stones for yellow are from Jericho and roses used to paint faces are from Jerusalem.
If this is your first time reading about icons, please don’t mistake this for idolatry. Here is a great explanation of icons written by Father William Saunders via Catholic Exchange. These are not objects of worship, but rather images,
to help us human beings in our contemplation of our Lord, of His deeds, and of the saints, so that we may draw closer to Him and be more fully joined to the Communion of Saints.
I don’t know about you, but if I am ever fortunate enough to travel to the Holy Land, I’ll be looking into one of these classes!