Living Icons presents an intimate portrait of holiness as exemplified in the lives and thoughts of ten people of faith in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In this inspiring volume, Michael P. Plekon introduces readers to a diverse and unusual group of men and women who strove to put the Gospel of Christ into action in their lives. The "living icons" Plekon describes were, among other things, priests, theologians, writers, and caregivers to the homeless and poor. One was an artist who became the greatest icon painter in this century; another was assassinated for his teachings in post-Soviet Russia. These remarkable people of faith lived through times of great suffering: forced emigration, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. Many of them were criticized, if not condemned, by ecclesiastical opponents and authorities. yet each demonstrate a unique pattern for holiness, illustrating that the path to sainthood is open to all. With the fall of state socialism, Eastern Orthodox churches and monasteries are being reopened and receiving renewed interest from believers and nonbelievers alike.
Plekon calls to our attention people like Saint Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1832), a monk, mystic, counselor, healer, and visionary; Father Alexander Man (1935-1990), a Russian whose writings after Glasnost ultimately led to his tragic assassination; Mother Maria Skobtsova (1891-1945), a painter, poet, and political activist who was killed in a concentration camp for hiding her Jewish neighbors; and Father Lev Gillet (1893-1980), one of the twentieth century's greatest spiritual teachers. Living Icons, which includes a foreword by Lawrence S. Cunningham, brings to life the beautiful, and often unfamiliar, spirituality of the Eastern Orthodox Church through some of its most remarkable members. It shows with simplicity and clarity that Christ and the Gospel are often manifested in extraordinary ways in the lives of ordinary people.