Alumnus Seraphim O’Keefe details iconography project in South Carolina

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SVOTS

Take a look “behind” the icons at St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church in Greenville, SC. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Alumnus Seraphim O'Keefe is giving readers insight into the iconography he has been commissioned to design and paint there.

O’Keefe has penned a marvelously detailed article for the Orthodox Arts Journal, entitled, “Murals for the Burning Bush Chapel and Prothesis at St John of the Ladder in Greenville, South Carolina.” In it, he walks readers through the iconography program of those sections of the church building, describes the theology behind the icons, and even discusses the type of paint he chose to complete the murals.

The Chapel of the Burning Bush at St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church in Greenville, SC (Photo: Orthodox Arts Journal)The Chapel of the Burning Bush at St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church in Greenville, SC (Photo: Orthodox Arts Journal)

In one section of the article, O’Keefe explains the guiding theme the program of St. John of the Ladder’s side-chapel, the prophet Moses and the Burning Bush icon of the Theotokos.

“In our chapel, this imagery is directly above the altar, which gives it a particular liturgical meaning,” he writes. “This is the classic image of God revealing himself to man. With her arms in the ‘orans’ position of prayer, the Theotokos’ form resembles a chalice, in which Christ takes flesh and blood. Our hymns frequently relate the Eucharist to fire, as in the prayer before Communion: ‘Rejoicing and trembling at once, I partake of Fire, I that am grass. And, strange wonder! I am bedewed without being consumed, as the bush of old burned without being consumed.’”

  • Read the full article here

Seraphim O’Keefe graduated from St. Vladimir’s Seminary in 2018. He had already begun developing his skills in iconography before enrolling at St. Vladimir’s. He was given commissions in parishes, which eventually led him to painting the icons for St. Cyprian of Carthage Orthodox Church in Midlothian, VA in the summer of 2015. Immediately following the work on the icons at St. Cyprian, Seraphim and his family packed their belongings and drove to St. Vladimir's Seminary, where he began his three-year course of study in the Master of Divinity degree program.