One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and contemplate his temple (Psalm 27)


More than 10 years ago, Father McAfee offered me the opportunity to teach the first icon workshop at St. Catherine’s. Since then, almost every year during Lent, St. Catherine has hosted the Siena Icon Workshop, giving students -lovers of this ancient form of sacred art – an opportunity to retreat from the distractions of their daily life and walk down Pope Benedict XVI’s “via pulchritudinis”, or way of beauty.


The Holy Father says that an artist seeks to discover in the forms or visible reality its deeper meaning. He compares a work of art to “a door open to the infinite, on to a beauty and a truth that go beyond the daily routine. However”, he continues, “some artistic expressions are real highways to God, the supreme Beauty; indeed, they help us to grow in our relationship with him, in prayer. These are works that were born from faith and express faith.” (General Audience, Art and Prayer, Castel Gandolfo, Wednesday, 31 August 2011)


Icons are such gates or highways to God, and for the iconographer they are opportunities for communion in prayer and real occasions of grace.


Having been offered by Father Drummond residency at St. Catherine’s, I would like to expand the scope of the Workshop while keeping its focus on the link between the sacred arts and Liturgy. In order to encourage and promote appreciation for the catholic traditions in art and architecture I propose the following:


  1. Five day workshops in Byzantine and Italian Iconography, and Medieval illumination
  2. One day focused workshops addressing one step of the iconographic process at a time
  3. Private instruction for students interested in making a more comprehensive practical and theoretical study of iconography
  4. Classical training in drawing, color, and composition for youth and adults, 12 and up
  5. Art history lectures for youth and adults with special focus on liturgical art and architecture
  6. Docent led museum and church tours


Your input is invaluable, so please do not hesitate to contact me with ideas, requests, suggestions, or if you are interested in participating in any of the above-mentioned activities.


For information about ongoing classes and workshops, you can visit our blog

Ioana Belcea, Iconographer in Residence

Ioana Belcea received classical training in the arts in Europe and has a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from Rutgers University. She studied iconography and iconology under Master Iconographer Vladislav Andrejev in New York and pursued theological studies on her own. She is continuing to expand her artistic vocabulary by taking workshops, studying the works of old masters, and working hard at her own art.

Recipient of the John Paul II award at the Dante Biennale for Small Bronze Sculpture in Ravenna, Italy, Belcea is a working iconographer, teacher and lecturer on iconography and liturgical art, and the founder and leading designer for the Siena Icon Workshop, a studio that specializes in liturgical art and church design.  You can find out more about her work on her website




telephone: 703-624-9478


Office Hours

Wednesday, 10am – 5pm

or by appointment


Mother Daughter Students at the 2014 Lent Workshop

Mother and Daughter Enjoying the 2014 Lent Workshop

2014 Lent Workshop Student Art

2014 Lent Workshop Student Art

2014 Lent Workshop Student Art

2014 Lent Workshop Student Art