MANILA, June 24, 3015 – Even before Laudato Si’ was made public, a Filipino religious brother who doubles as an iconographer had come out with a sacred icon that depicts the Blessed Virgin as “Inang Likha”—mother of creation—anticipating the eco-encyclical which for its part calls Mary the “Queen of all Creation.”
In an interview, Br. Jaazeal Jakosalem, a member of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR), told CBCP News he had created the icon ahead of the more famous “Dakilang Likha,” or Jesus of Creation, which was introduced on the same day Laudato Si’came off the press.
Paragraph 241 of the encyclical on “the care of our common home,” which is entitled “Queen of All Creation,” in obvious reference to the Blessed Virgin, reads: “Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus, and all creatures sing of her fairness. She is the Woman, “clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1).”
Mother and Queen
The papal document continues: “Carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51), and now understands the meaning of all things. Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.”
Like Dakilang Likha, Inang Likha has incorporated elements from indigenous Filipino art forms which give the Blessed Mother and the Holy Child strikingly Austronesian complexion and features.
“We are adapting ethnic patterns,” he said, commenting on the Asian-looking clothes the subject wears.
Also like Dakilang Likha, the Madonna-and-Child icon revives the use of “baybayin,” with the phrase “dakilang likha” in the ancient Tagalog script written on the left side of the panel.
Praying and painting
According to him, right before he sets off working on a new picture, he prays, stressing he needs the guidance from above for this spiritual task.
“You need guidance before ‘co-creating’,” Jakosalem explained.
Traditionally, iconographers, people who “write” icons, see themselves as more than artists given that what they help create are no ordinary works of art.
“They [icons] are the windows to heaven,” Jakosalem added.
Coming from a family of painters in Western Visayas, the Recollect brothers shared he is connected to the Greenheart Hermitage, an ecological center founded by the Recollects in 2010 at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in line with the congregation’s ecology ministry.
There, Jakosalem works with young people in Negros Occidental, painting environmental murals on public walls.
To view his other creations, visit: https://www.facebook.com/greenheart.hermitage. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)