CRAA Iconography Retreat

Br. Karel Soukup with the icon he wrote during the retreat

The Contemporary Religious Artists Association (CRAA) held their second annual Summer Sacred Art Workshop and Retreat from July 16-July 24 at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison. First came a three-day workshop in the materials and techniques of Medieval manuscript illumination, taught by Dr. Anthony Silvestri of Washburn University, during which participants created a small painting in the medieval style using calfskin parchment, pure pigments, and pure gold leaf. After a quiet day for reflection with meditations led by Fr. Jay Kythe, participants embarked on a five-day intensive workshop in traditional icon painting led by Elizabeth Zeller. Each participant spent almost 40 hours of loving and prayerful work in the study, design, and painting of their selected holy image. Zeller guided each iconographer through every stage of the process—selection of the icon board; transferring the holy image; navigating the delicate multi-step gilding process; and the patient application of layer upon layer of translucent, hand-made egg tempera colors—punctuated throughout the five days with prayer, and participation in the daily life of the Abbey community, including joining the monks for meals and daily prayer. The workshop culminated in the blessing of the icons during Holy Mass in the Abbey church on Sunday, July 24. The CRAA holds regular meetings, workshops, exhibitions, and sacred art enrichment activities throughout the year. For more information on the CRAA and upcoming events, kindly visit