In Japan for the first time a book on contemporary Icons

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Lina Delpero


The colours of mystery




The Bible in images

 The origin of the word "Icon" comes from the Greek  "EIKON", and means image, similarity. The first Icons were painted in Egypt and Palestina around the 4-5th century,  and then they were spread in Small Asia, Greece, Italy and subsequently in Russia. 
Icons were painted as representation of persons and facts of the Bible using the colors, as an open window on the divine world, as an opening on the invisible world.


46 Icons in the book:  (49 tables in high definition). 
Parallel texts in Japanese, Italian and English. 
172 pages in A4 format  (special binding)
Price: 6,000 Yen (Tax not included) 
Publisher:  Tamagawa University, 1999

Click on the Icons for enlargement!!

慈愛の聖母  大 143Kb

イエスの誕生  大 160Kb

イエスの変容  大 87Kb

奇跡の大漁  大 115Kb

The Mother of God of Tenderness

The Lord's Nativity

The Transfiguration

The Wondrous Fishing

Author’s Profile

     I was born into a large, peasant family in 1941, during World War II, in a small village, Vermiglio, situated 1300 meters above sea level in the Trentino's Alps. There everyone knew everybody else and they helped each other overcome the hardships of the war and the poverty in which they lived.
The beauty of nature, the colours of clouds playing  amidst mountain peaks, the glaciers, the flowers, larch  and fir  forests, the sound of stream waters rushing down mountain slopes... all these are images etched in my soul forever.

In Milan I attended the “Beato Angelico” high school for the arts and I studied architecture at university. At Milan's Catholic University I attended  with interest the courses on “Religious Sciences” and at the Ecole de la Foi, in Freiburg in Switzerland, I did two years of biblical studies.

I have been writing icons since I was 24 and I think this is the most meaningful commitment in my life. I taught  “drawing” and “history of art” at middle and high school. Being in touch with teenagers has always been a motivating factor for me and it has helped me go forward in my work as iconographer. I write my icons for them, for their families as well as the man in the street.
The aim of the exhibitions held so far in Italy and abroad is through the icon, to show “something” which can fill the heart with hope and the eyes with beauty.

Thanks also to many friends, my icons are to be found almost everywhere, both in Europe and in other continents. Three times I represented Italy at the “Art in action” world exhibition in London where only one artist per nation is chosen. The state of Malta, in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute, has shown my icons at their National Museum.
This year, for the very first time, I have been able to  display my work, through exhibitions and conferences, here in Japan. I felt a great deal of appreciation for this type of art which has  a few things in common with ancient Japanese art. I would like to dedicate this book to the Japanese people, to their daintiness  and sensitivity as  my little effort to our common search for that “beauty” which, as Dostoyevsky said, will save the world.


Giovanni Dominedo,   Ambassador of Italy to Japan

 Lina Delpero presents to us, with this elegant volume “I COLORI DEL MISTERO” (The Colours of Mystery), about fifty of her many works of wood painting. Indeed we are accustomed to admiring reproductions of classic icons, but here are presented to us icons written over the last few decades, which is probably a unique fact. Lina Delpero, while faithfully drawing on the more than millenary iconographic tradition, becomes the continuer of tablet painting, a form of art which in the past greatly developed in Italy and, particularly, in Tuscany.

  In the centuries, while adjusting to changing styles and techniques, the icon never lost its strong spiritual and religious appeal, nor did it give up its epiphanic role thanks to which it could overcome the iconoclasts’ intolerance to aptly become the liturgical art form par excellence at the second Council of Nicaea, chiefly because of the pleading of Giovanni Damasceno in the”Difesa delle Sacre Immagini” (Defence of Sacred Images).

  In today’s world, the icon still lives and thrives, witness the beautiful works of Lina Delpero, and this shows us that the religious spirituality in its highest artistic manifestations is not losing strength.The modern icon, at least in its more realistic and figurative form, that is to say when less solemn and stylized, continues to convey a divine message crystallized in the purity of this ancient and suggestive form of art.

  It has been a wise decision for the publisher to present this volume by Lina Delpero in three languages, Japanese, Italian and English, a fact which also proves the willingness to spread the knowledge of the icon among readers of different nationalities.

  I am sure that I COLORI DEL MISTERO will contribute to a growing appreciation of the icon and of its spiritual message by a lager public and will help to give new life to this art form.


Icons' list:

These are the Icons contained in the book; 
there are also texts of the Bible referred to in the paintings

Saint George
The Prophet Elijah
Saint Luke the Evangelist
John the Baptist
The Annunciation
The Archangel Gabriel
The Visitation of Mary to Elisabeth
The Lord's Nativity
Jesus at the Temple
The Holy Family
The Mother of God of Tenderness
The Dance of the Risen One
Christ the Pantocrator
The Wedding at Cana

The Transfiguration
Peter the Apostle at the Sepulchre
The Resurrection of Lazarus
The Stilled Storm
The Entry into Jerusalem
The Washing of the Feet
The Last Supper
The Crucifixion
The Women Bringing Spices to the Sepulchre
The Wondrous Fishing
The Pentecost
The Betrothed
Snow Dancing

Comments to the Icons  (Giuliano Delpero)

In the second part of the book there is a detailed explanation of the facts and biblical characters that appear in the Icons. 
The historical origin, the transmission and the technique of Icon painting is also explained. Texts by Giuliano Delpero, brother of the painter and missionary in Japan (Saint Peter and Saint Paul's Workers' Mission - MOPP) 


Sei Petro-Paulo Rodo Senkyokai (M.O.P.P.)

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Tel. Fax. 04-2945-0510