The Dancing Saints Icon Project

article by info, Oct 7, 2011

The Dancing Saints icon is a monumental, surprising and powerful statement of faith for the ages, created by iconographer Mark Dukes with the people of Saint Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Twelve years in the making, it is a 3,000 square foot icon wrapping around the entire church rotunda, showing ninety larger-than life saints; four animals; stars, moons, suns and a twelve-foot dancing Christ.

The saints—ranging from traditional figures like King David, Teresa of Avila and Francis of Assisi to unorthodox and non-Christian people like Malcolm X, Anne Frank, and Rumi—represent musicians, artists, mathematicians, martyrs, scholars, mystics, lovers, prophets and sinners from all times, from many faiths and backgrounds.

As the congregation dances around the altar, the saints dance above, proclaiming a sweeping, universal vision of God shining through human life.

"For an icon portraying St. Gregory’s vision, the dancers must be diverse, and exemplify traits that Gregory’s teaching emphasizes and our congregation’s life upholds. Our members’ meeting identified the qualities we were looking for; then a committee of six members and clergy gathered 350 nominations and researched biographies, sifting, combining, stirring and reducing these to seventy-four. Nearly every church member will find a name they offered here. Nearly every life will find an exemplar."

Read Rick Fabian's Who Are These Like Stars Appearing article detailing the theology behind the Dancing Saints.

For detailed views of all the Dancing Saints see the Dancing Saints Icon Page and click through to each of the nine detailed panel pages where the saints are identified. There are links to detail pages for all saints so you can read their background and history and add your comments. You can also see the full set of 91 saints on the Dancing Saints index page.

A Gift from the Makrina Foundation helped fund this presentation.