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Icon to commemorate unborn, lost children

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LA JOLLA — An original icon of the Finding of Jesus in the Temple will be dedicated during the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass Jan. 1 at All Hallows Parish in La Jolla.

The 5-foot-tall triptych is the work of iconographer Father Anthony Salzman, a Greek Orthodox priest. It has been installed inside the church’s Holy Family Shrine, where it replaced a statue of the Holy Family.

The icon and the shrine will be dedicated “in memory of the unborn and all our lost children,” said Father Joe Masar, pastor of All Hallows Parish, who commissioned the icon last June.

“I’ve already had a number of people tell me how meaningful it is to have a dedicated space where they can come and pray and lay their burdens of their lost children,” he said.

The icon’s central panel depicts the scene from Luke’s Gospel where the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph find the 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple after three days of searching for Him. The two side panels each feature an image of an angel.

In the central panel, Father Masar said, one can still see traces of distress on the Blessed Mother’s face even after she and St. Joseph have been reunited with their Son.

“That sorrow on the face reminds us of what it must be like on a human level to lose a child … I really wanted to capture that, and (Father Salzman) did a beautiful job,” he said.

The icon arrived at the church on Dec. 19 and was installed between Dec. 21 and Dec. 23.

Father Masar noted that the creation of an icon is a deeply spiritual process. Through it all, he said, the iconographer prays about his work and for the “the community of faith where this piece of art now will become part of the fabric of parish life.”

“(Father Salzman has) been praying for us as a community as he’s been creating this, and we have been praying for him as he has been creating it,” said Father Masar. “There’s a tremendous amount of anticipation on the part of the people.”

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