Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Iconography in a beautiful Russian children's book...

"Here before you, my young friends, is a curious book. It was written for children but grown-ups may also find it interesting. It wasn't meant as entertainment but it will captivate you nonetheless, and even though our narrative is serious, it contains many wonderful pictures. This isn't a book of fairy tales, legends or fables, but it will show you the way to a country that has no equal in any country on earth, for it was created by the All-Wise God in His own image and likeness. It's a wonderful place, not far from each of you, and it's called . . . your own soul."

The Path to Confession by Fr. Artemy Vladimirov, pastor of All Saints Church in Moscow, is full of gorgeous watercolor illustrations, done by by G.A. Skotina in a traditional  iconographic style...

The term "icon" is derived from the Greek word "eikon" meaning "likeness" or image. In the Eastern European Christian tradition, the subjects of icons can be portraits of Christ, his Mother, or saints, but they may also be narratives about sacred events, or even depictions of liturgical hymns.  Icons are also referred to as "Windows to Heaven".

Tens of thousands of copies of The Path to Confession have been sold in the original Russian version, and now English-speakers can benefit from Fr. Artemy's gentle, yet sober introduction to confession. This book is a feast to the eyes as well as the soul.

Chapter III addresses "The Battle Against Sin": Disbelief; Pride and disobedience; Laziness and despondency; Envy, greed, lying and stealing; Intemperance in eating and drinking; Unchastity and cursing; Those who have bad manners; and Anger, irritability and fighting...

Fr. Artemy's serious, yet loving counsel about the preparation for the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion may in some parts of the text seem strict to our American ears and culture, so I would recommend that parents read it before deciding which parts to share with their children (age and maturity of the child, as well as parenting styles will also be determining factors in how parents will want to present the material).

How much do you know about Russian icons?  Click here for a brief history and some excellent links and resources.

Adults and teens may also enjoy this book, The Underground Struggle to Save Russian Iconography: HIDDEN AND TRIUMPHANT, by Irina Yazykova.  Go here for description and ordering info.


  1. I love those illustrations, they remind me of Pauline Baynes.

    1. Oh my goodness! You're right! I was trying to place whose artwork it reminded me of - that's it, exactly. I can just see her Aslan, bounding in with Lucy into one of the scenes. :)

  2. Absolutely beautiful...this book would be a good one for many of the youth in our parish, we have quite a few who turned 7 recently and started going to Confession!

  3. I checked a few of the links. Much I want to read there. But I am not sure I found where to get a copy of this book? It looks wonderful and I'm sure my kids, and I would benefit from reading it! Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Sorry! It's linked now - here's one of your options (I also saw it at Archangels Books): http://www.csborthodox.org/publishing.html

    2. No longer available from the link above, now on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Path-Confession-Presented-Orthodox-Children/dp/0967840007

  4. Path to Confession is such a beautiful book.