Fr. James Martin, S.J., a Jesuit priest and popular author and speaker, shared July 9 on Facebook an icon of “Our Lady of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence.”
In the icon, Mary is depicted as a black woman with her hands up. Where her womb would be is a small black silhouette of Jesus in a similar posture, but in the crosshairs of a gun.
The posture, while a clear reference to the “Hands up, don’t shoot” slogan birthed in Ferguson, Mo., in response to police violence, is also the “orans” position of prayer, as Fr. Martin explained. Orans, which in Latin means “praying,” is a position that designates pleading or supplication to God.
“Essentially an icon is an invitation to prayer and meditation,” Fr. Martin wrote.
“Our Lady prays for all who are targeted by gun violence: African-Americans, the poor and marginalized, and police officers.
All are her children.
All are our brothers and sisters.
Let us ask Our Lady to pray for us.”
Icons are commonly described as “written,” not “painted.” The Our Lady of Ferguson was written by Mark Dukes. It was commissioned by the Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones of Trinity Church Wall Street.
This is not the only icon written in response to recent acts of violence. Nikola Saric, a Serbian artist, wrote a haunting icon in response to the martyrdom of 21 Christians who were beheaded by ISIS in February 2015.
Correction: This article previously stated that the icon is on display at Trinity Church Wall Street. The icon is not, in fact, on display at Trinity at the moment.