National Blue Army Shrine to receive Fatima icon

Vivian Imbruglia stands next to the 24 x 36 Fatima icon, finished in time for the 100th anniversary. It will be blessed by Bishop James Checchio during the 100th anniversary celebration, May 13, and displayed by Blessed Sacrament chapel.

The National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima has received a beautiful Fatima icon, written by Vivian Imbruglia from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.  After writing an icon for the 2016 “Year of Mercy”, she was moved that the 100th anniversary of Fatima followed right after.  She set out to learn as much as she could about the story of Fatima, and after much prayer and consultation, the idea for the icon came to her.

“With iconography, you can’t just sit down and write something; you really need to study it, because if it isn’t right–the symbolism–it’s like reading something wrong, like interpreting the Bible on your own. In the case of Fatima, I knew very little,” says Imbruglia.

She started reading everything she could and reached out to Deacon Bob Ellis, our National Coordinator to learn more. After their conversation she had 10 pages of notes. She also spoke with Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR, noted Fatima speaker and author, who helped her pull out the most important aspects of the message of Fatima.

“I wanted this icon to be like a story, written for the average person like me who didn’t know much about Fatima. It was so much more than the Miracle of the Sun,” she says.

Imbruglia started with Our Lady in the center of the icon and built the story around her. The three shepherds are shown with somber looks on their faces because they had seen hell, which is depicted beneath them. Before writing the six smaller icons that would tell the rest of the story, Imbruglia began a novena to “Our Lady Undoer of Knots” and by the third day everything came together.

The icon depicts the Angel of Peace and his call to prayer, reparation and sacrifice; the Miracle of the Sun with the apparitions of the Holy Family and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, symbolically represented by the brown scapular; the request for the First Saturday devotion; the “Last Vision” of the Holy Trinity given to Sister Lucia; the third part of the Secret, and Pope St. John Paul II consecrating the world. The promised triumph of the Immaculate Heart is prominently displayed above the scene of hell.

Deacon Ellis and others confirmed to her that the icon represented the story of Fatima and Father Apostoli told her it was “perfect.”

“That’s what I want when I write an icon, to help tell the story or help someone come into a devotion that they need. My prayer is that it draws people in.”

A “call” to iconography

Imbruglia took her first course in iconography 12 years ago and was “hooked.” Eventually she began teaching the class and left her job at a private school to follow a “call” to write iconography full time. She has a small studio in her home and hopes to move into a larger space someday to accommodate more students.

Iconography is not about artistic ability, she says, it’s about prayer—a spiritual walk with the person you are painting. In fact, 95 percent of her students have never picked up a paintbrush.

“You write an icon as opposed to paint an icon because basically (the practice) came from writing Scripture. When there were so many different languages being spoken, they would do it with images.”

The colors and everything about the icon are symbolic. The actual icon is written on wood and wood is symbolic of the cross, or the altar. A white gesso and white linen symbolizing the shroud are placed over it, then the entire icon is covered in 24-karat gold leaf.

“Gold is symbolic of heaven. It’s pure and you would never use anything fake. If you can’t afford real gold, then we just don’t use it, we use yellow ochre, which is a form of a gold color.

“The way the gold is applied is also very symbolic,” she adds. “You take a liquid clay that is laid down and you breathe into the clay and then the gold is laid down. When applying flesh tones, you start with green because you are putting life into the icon, then you add white—the light of Christ. A lot of this isn’t even known, but I believe that’s what gives it the holiness of the icon,” she says. “Icons are called ‘windows to heaven.’ When you are looking at an icon, you are really looking at heaven, but what’s more important is the person is looking back at you in a true icon, and that true icon comes with prayer.”

Imbruglia says she prayed many rosaries over this icon in hopes that it will draw people in. As the iconographer, she was the first to venerate it. She is pleased it will be blessed by Bishop James Checchio on Saturday, May 13, and venerated by hundreds of people at the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Copies of the icon can be ordered in professional prints, on wood or plaque at the Blue Army Shrine gift shop by calling 908-689-1700, ext. 218.


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  1. i want to be a member of blue army , i believe i am already
    a Marian child as Catholic

    • Thank you for your interest in becoming a member of Our Lady’s Blue Army. You can do so on our website at Join the Blue Army. It is a spiritual pledge to do what Our Lady asked of us. I also encourage you to sign up to receive our First Saturday bulletin, and follow us on Facebook. Thank you and may the Immaculate Heart be a refuge for you and the way that will lead you to God.

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