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August 14, 2015

Coptic icon holy family egypt2

Holy Family in Egypt, Coptic icon by Bedour Latif and Youssef Nasseif, 1988

I share with my readers this beautiful Coptic icon of the Holy Family in Egypt by the two Coptic artists, Bidour Latif and Youssef Nasseif, which they painted in 1988. Coptic iconographers prefer to describe their work as writing rather than drawing and painting, for an icon is a statement of religion full of symbolic meanings: the Christian viewer can look at an icon and read what it says and what it teaches him. Here is the little Holy Family with Salome, the Virgin’s midwife according to Coptic tradition, sitting in an Egyptian papyrus boat that is sailing on the River Nile, with some fish swimming in blue water around the boat and towards the Family as if paying homage to it, and escorting it. The Holy Family is also surrounded by interested white pigeons, common in Egypt, and guarded by an angel spreading his arms as if saying to us, “Behold, the Holy Family”. Jesus is possibly two years old here, and is dressed in a white long tunic; and stands in the boat while his mother, the Virgin Mary, securing him with her two hands. In the background one sees the lotus plants, plenty of palm trees bearing ripe red dates, and two Egyptian temples. Strangely, the Nile wave lines run longitudinal to the Nile and not transversely, contrary to Ancient Egyptian/Coptic tradition.

No one will fail to see Egypt or the Holy Family in Egypt in this beautiful icon.

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