A new face greeted the faithful at St. Monica’s Parish on the first day of Advent this year. St. Francis Xavier, his likeness portrayed in an icon, was on display at the church Sunday, Dec. 2. 

The Jesuit missionary is the first of eight saints to adorn the sanctuary at St. Monica's. Also coming soon:

  • St. Kateri Tekakwitha
  • St. Teresa of Calcutta
  • St. Therese of Lisieux
  • St. Josephine Bakhita
  • St. Oscar Romero
  • St. Lorenzo Ruiz
  • St. Augustine of Hippo

Andre Prevost, an artist living near Nanaimo, accepted the request to write the icons for St. Monica's. His style is contemporary, not traditional, iconography and that was an intentional choice, said pastor Father Robert Wong, SJ.

"More people can relate to them," he explained. Most of the saints that will be portrayed are also relatively modern; six of the saints were canonized in the last two centuries, including four since the year 2000.

Father Wong pointed out the icons he chose reflect his parish's diverse community. For example, St. Lorenzo Ruiz was a Filipino man and represents the ethnicity of about 80 per cent of the congregation, while St. Josephine Bakhita was a member of the Canossian order, a congregation of sisters still active in Richmond today.