Icon of Holy Thomas, Angelic Doctor

Video on the making of the Icon

Click here to watch the presentation given by iconographer Nicholas Markell all about the making of the Holy Thomas Icon.

In the fall of 2012 Campus Ministry commissioned Nicholas Markell to write an icon of St. Thomas Aquinas, the University’s patron.

Mr. Markell wrote the icon called “Holy Thomas” in the tradition of Eastern iconography.  The process of writing a sacred image in this style is a form of prayer beginning with the initial design and continuing through its use in Divine Worship.

For more information, please contact Campus Ministry: 651-962-6560 or email campusministry@stthomas.edu.

The meaning behind the symbols in the Holy Thomas Icon


  • Get back in touch with word “Holy”

Motto: Non Aliam Nisi Te

  • “Only you Lord” and “What do you ask of me?”
  • Vision of St. Thomas- Christ asked him “What do you ask of me?” and his response was “Only you, Lord”.


  • Angelic doctor (see angels, fire red)


  • Not expressed in face
  • Violet in nimbus (halo) symbolizes humanity

Blessed Sacrament:

  • Usually St. Thomas icons have light over chest

Notes on the Holy Thomas Icon

Talk given by Iconographer Nicholas Markell on Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

We say we can write an icon- because we can read it.

Icon is Greek for “image”

  • Referred to as the visible word- corresponding of the scripture
  • Rooted in scripture : Gen 1:26

Icons are to be given the same veneration as the life-giving cross and the book of the Gospels- Nicea II

CCC 1160: Period of “Christian Iconography”

“Icons evoke a hunger for God.” –St. John Damascus

“It is a proclamation of the Gospel in line and color and it is an invitation to a relationship…”

Icon resonates with the intellect of the heart- not only of this world.

Corresponds with the Beatific Vision.

What distinguishes an icon from other images in the world?

  1. Must be theoretically correct (mind of the church)
  2. Artistically Appropriate (bears weight of mystery)
  • Spark sense of divine…Can walk bridge of natural and supernatural world.

     3.  Symbolic Language (visual language)

7 Principles of the Icon

  1. Radiance: Christ is light- a spiritual light (gold- symbolizes divine light)
  2. Perspective: Can suspend laws of nature to bring forth theological truth
  3. Flatness:
  • 2 dimensional image- window to heaven
  • See through it to another world- opens up other image

     4.  Anatomy: images are living in transfigured body- sometimes elongated- looks larger than life

     5.  Symbolism:

  • Meaning beyond itself- opens up concepts
  • E.g. Ship symbolizes the church itself, Paul with sword, Peter with staff/keys

      6.  Garments:

  • Shows heaven- harmony and fulfilled
  • Royalness shows we are heir to the Kingdom

      7.  Creation: We are part of the created world

Steps in the Process

  • All natural materials are used
  • Gold has clay base (red). After base- breathe hot air when putting gold down. This symbolizes the breath of God.
  • Move from dark to light (darkness to spiritual light) of Christ
  • They never paint shadows- brings light to where there was darkness
    • Four Lights- go in these stages
      1. Body
      2. Soul
      3. Spirit
      4. Light of God

Mixing colors creates a relationship in the colors called the incarnation of color.