St. Anne's: ICXC NIKA, medallion/enkolpion.
2007 marks the 100th Anniversary of the construction of St. Anne's
Anglican Church, Toronto.
Built in the Byzantine Greek-cross plan, and now a Canadian National
Historic Site, it contains the
only religious paintings by members of the Group of Seven.
The structure of the Church, Byzantine in style, and featuring
a great octagonal central dome,
rising on four pendentives supported by four Caen stone columns,
was atypical in form for
1907 Toronto. It flew in the face of traditional Latin-cross shaped,
Gothic-inspired Christian churches.
Instead, St. Anne's was modelled after Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom)
in Constantinople (present-day
Istanbul), which for almost 1000 years stood as the centre and
emblem of Christianity, until
the centre was moved to Rome, and Hagia Sophia, much-coveted by
the Muslims, fell to the
Islamic world in1453. Presently, Hagia Sophia is a museum.
As a result, many of St. Anne's decorations, while painted by
members of the Group of Seven and
their colleagues, have a Byzantine flavour.
The great chancel, or apse, which serves as a focus for the altar
and the choir, is crowned by a partial dome, covered in brilliant
blue and decorated with an interwining Grape and Wine motif, as
well as a series of medallions. The medallions serve as Christograms.
The ICXC NIKA Christogram in particular
can also be found as an identifier for Christ in Hagia Sophia,
as well as other Byzantine churches.
ICXC is a traditional abbreviation of the Greek words for "Jesus
Christ", that is, it is comprised of the first
and last letters of His name, "IHCOYC XPICTOC". Thus,
ICXC NIKA means "Jesus Christ conquers".