All Saints Parish Unveils St. Corona Icon

By Colleen Rowan

The image of a powerful intercessor in troubling times has been added to the many likenesses of saints that grace the interior walls of the Bridgeport church named in their honor. The image is of St. Corona, who is invoked against plagues and viruses. During Mass on the third Sunday of Advent, Father Walter Jagela, pastor of All Saints Parish, blessed and dedicated the icon. He and the congregation prayed for light, peace and healing to come to the world, parish, and all affected by the coronavirus. “The icon will be gracing our space until we as a people are safely moving about again in our world, free from or at least under control from this virus,” Father Jagela said. “Then, and only then, will she be placed among the Holy Ones to adorn our walls here at All Saints where all can ‘walk the journey’ down the halls and be blessed.” Father Jagela also developed prayer cards for parishioners and placed them on their seats prior to the Mass so they could pray the prayer together after the blessing of the icon. They were then encouraged to take the prayer cards home to pray often during the pandemic. Pastoral staff along with parishioners were looking for a way to respond in faith to the pandemic, Father Jagela said. As they discussed and prayerfully considered various ways to do this, he said they took one of the traditions from years of summer vacation Bible school and developed the large hanging image of St. Corona. “We believe that the image, gracing our worship space, assists us in prayerfully responding to the pandemic by drawing us closer to someone who lived her faith and assisted those who were in need during troubled times,” Father Jagela said. “We believe as Catholics that the saints, our sisters and brothers who lived like us and now experience the glory of the Lord, can and do interceed for us to God through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The large image, created by 16–year-old parishioner Naomi Brown, hangs at left in the worship space. Father Jagela said she is an up-and-coming artist, who quietly worked from a picture to draw and paint the icon of St. Corona for her faith community. “She spent countless hours drawing and painting St. Corona and, as any good artist, she put a few of her own touches to the image,” he said. “We are most thankful to Naomi for her talents, gifts and above all her faith that encourages our own faith during these challenging times.” Since the pandemic began, Father Jagela has anointed several Catholics and visited non-Catholics who have had COVID-19 in the hospital and nursing homes. Gratitude, he said, goes out to all the medical personnel, especially nurses and doctors who are on the front lines of the pandemic. “Without them and the science they live and breathe; where would we be?” he asked. “To all the families who have loved ones with the virus, who have lost loved ones to the virus; we offer our prayers, support, and continued efforts on behalf of the church for healing, consolation, and peace.” The following, “A Gospel response to the Corona Pandemic,” was given to those who attended the Mass at which the blessing of the image was held: “As our world is in the grip of a pandemic called Covid-19, many people are discovering and turning to various ways of dealing with, understanding and, coming to terms with isolation and distance. “As a faith community of All Saints; we have chosen through prayer, study and the arts to respond to this world Pandemic by creating an icon (a window into the holy) of Saint Corona. While little is known about the life of Saint Corona, it is generally accepted that she was martyred during the reign of Emperor Antoninus in the year 165A.D. in Damascus. The most common pious legend around St. Corona involves another saint, St. Victor, a Roman soldier of Italian ancestry, who was in Damascus. St. Victor was tortured for refusing to renounce his faith—including having his eyes gouged out, before ultimately being beheaded. “While Victor was being tortured, the sixteen-year- old St. Corona comforted and prayed for him. Because of this, she was arrested and interrogated by the Romans and found to be a Christian. According to some accounts, St. Corona, was tied between two bent palm trees and torn apart as the trunks were released. “Corona means Crown in Latin, which is also where the coronavirus gets its name, from the spikes of protein that form a crown around the virus. In Catholicism, the crown is a widely used emblem for martyrdom, particularly for female saints. “Saint Corona is invoked against plagues and viruses. Her Feast Day is May 14. “Let us pray to St. Corona for all those sickened by the virus, our medical personnel, scientists advancing their knowledge and bringing us relief and, all those who have died from the virus. “We believe that everything is a teacher thus, maybe what we glean from this pandemic is one about viral misinformation, which just like a plague, spreads unless we isolate it! “St. Corona, Pray for Us.”