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Sister Esther
Originally from France, I was consecrated in the Community of the Beatitudes in 2004. I have been living in the Holy Land, in the holy place of Emmaus Nicopolis since 2008. I have a long experience in studying the Bible and since I was a child I loved to paint. I started to pray with the icon as a young adult, and when I joined my Community, God planted in my heart the desire to write icons. Thus, I started learning this sacred art on my own in 2013, until I joined the two-year Diploma course of the Bethlehem Icon Centre (BIC) in 2016, after the superior of my Community wished that I would train professionally. Now, I divide my time between my Community and iconography work, in Bethlehem and at home.

Madlain Manneh
Born in Jerusalem, married with 3 children, I am currently living in Bethlehem. I started drawing at a young age and as a first time mother, I painted a scene on the bedroom walls of my firstborn. In 2014, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in education, after which I became a teacher for two years. In 2015, I heard about the BIC and met with its founder and teacher lan Knowles as well as the assessor Aidan Hart. With my husband, I made the decision to join the Diploma Course in 2016. Now, I'm studying theology as a complementary formation to iconography, and I'm teaching in our workshop.


Marlena Kaczanowska
Born in Poland, I have a degree in theology from the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw. Since 2007 I have been living and serving in the Holy Land, where I am a Consecrated Virgin for the Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem for the Latins. For several years I worked with disabled children with the Sisters of Charity in Ain Karim, and with time I discovered in my heart the desire to pray more and paint. I was introduced to iconography, with the help of God, while I was serving at the Carmel of Nazareth where I wrote my first icon with a Melkite nun, who informed me about the BIC. Since my graduation from the Diploma course, I have been living in Bethlehem, praying and writing icons.


Madlain and Sister Esther studied in the first Diploma Class and were the first two out of six graduates from the Prince's Trust School of Traditional Arts (PTSTA) Bethlehem Icon School. They worked as junior iconographers in the BIC, under the tutoring of their teacher Ian Knowles for more than a year. Madlain was also helping lan with teaching. Marlena, already frequenting the Center, joined the second and last Diploma Class. Since then, the three women started their friendship.


"We trained professionally with the same technique and spirit, and became friends."


In the middle of 2019, the owner of the place and member of the BIC board, decided to change the policy. As the ethics and goals were very different from those of the founder and teacher, lan Knowles, this one decided to retire from the BIC. While the three other graduates took different directions, we decided to continue together.


"We decided to continue together, giving mutual support."


With the help of the Holy Land Iconography Trust (HLIT), which seized its support to the BIC with the departure of its founder, we built up our own workshop. Our purpose is to keep the legacy alive: offering mutual support, rooting our work in prayer and spiritual life, seeking excellence and sharing the treasure through our work and teaching.


"We want to share the treasure of iconography."

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