Friday, March 19, 2010


Well here’s a new one on me. Fr. Gene Fulton made me aware of it and Wikipedia confirmed it.

If you have seen the icon for the year of the priest you may have noticed Jesus’ hand. He is giving us a blessing but He is not doing it in a fashion that at least we westerners would be familiar with. Notice his middle fingers are bent and touching His thumb. This is not merely an affected position that the artist thought would be cool. It has deep meaning.

If you were at an Orthodox liturgy (I apologize if Eastern Catholics also do this, I did not have time to find out) you will find priests blessing the people with the same hand position. They are forming letters with their fingers: “IC XC”. This is a Christogram for Jesus Christ. I’ve seen two different versions of this but the one that seems to be upheld predominantly on line is one in which the pinky and index finger remain extended and the two middle fingers are touching the thumb. The pinky forms the “I”, the second finger and the thumb suffice for a “C”, the index finger and pinky form the top half of the “X” and the forefinger and thumb finishes it off with the “C”. So infect you are being blessed with the name of Jesus Christ.

Pretty cool.

If not correct this is pretty close. If anybody has some corrections to this it would be most appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Fr. V:
The artist who wrote this icon (which is being used by the Knights of Columbus for their prayer card for the Year for Priests) also wrote the icon for the Jubilee Year (2003) for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois (Our Lady of the Life Giving Spring). His work is beautiful.

I also think that, in the Western Church, the Pope (and only he) may use this particular gesture when giving blessings.

Thank you for all you do!

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

Who is this person who knows about icons?

Unknown said...

eastern catholic priests do it too.