Icons & Wreaths: Source & Summit Liturgical Q&A

I hope everyone’s Advent is off to a good start! This year the season is quite short, really only 3 weeks long, so we’re close to halfway through!

You may have noticed that some of the decor changes for this season. Of course, the most obvious is the Advent Wreath in the center of the church. The wreath itself is made of several different symbols with meaning. First, the shape of the wreath represents the eternity of God, that God has no beginning or end, or, in fact, is the beginning and the end. For this reason ancient Christians believed there was something divine about the shape of a circle. Second, the four candles represent Christ’s presence, which is amplified as we near the celebration of his Nativity on Christmas. The light of Christ becomes brighter and brighter throughout the season of Advent. Finally, the evergreen branches represent life even in times of darkness and cold. Evergreens remain alive and vibrant despite the harsh conditions of winter.

Also, we have been blessed to obtain five icons that are hung on the pillars around edge of the worship space. Icons are sort of like visual documents. They are meant to convey information about the people and the scenes they depict. We tried to choose icons that represented some of the “characters” of the Advent season, so, beginning on the right of the church (near the first Station of the Cross) we have:




  1. The Prophet Isaiah from whom we read often in Advent
  2. The Annunciation which includes the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary
  3. The Visitation which depicts Elizabeth and Mary, both pregnant with John the Baptist and Jesus, respectively
  4. John the Baptist, who we hear about in the middle of the Advent season
  5. Our Lady of Guadalupe, the apparition of the Virgin Mary that appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico in the 16th century and is such an integral part of Mexican culture. We celebrate her feast day on December 12th.



We hope that these icons help you deepen your experience of Advent. Thanks to Gen Koeppl and Patty Parrish on the ALEC team for their work in selecting and obtaining the icons.


During Advent we reflect on Jesus’ presence in the past (anticipating the Nativity), the future (the Second Coming), and the present. I sincerely hope that you and your family profoundly experience the presence of Christ in your lives this Advent. He is here, with us, we just need to be watchful and alert!


Submit your liturgical questions or comments to liturgyandmusic@saintraphael.org
– Jeff Rice, Pastoral Associate of Liturgy & Music