Hilary Term 2024

Hilary Term 2024



at St Theosevia House, 2 Canterbury Road, Oxford OX2 6LU

An Ecumenical Centre for Christian Spirituality in Oxford

Icons: a Way of Truly Seeing

Saturday 3 February 10.30 am – 4 pm

Open Study Day with Joanna Tulloch,

Andrew Williams, and Revd Dr Dobromir Dimitrov

The Role of Symbols in St Ephrem the Syrian and St Teresa of Avila

Saturday 10 February 10.30 am – 4 pm

Open Study Day with Dr Sebastian Brock

and Julienne McLean

All welcome, no registration required.

Free for students; non-students £5. Tea and coffee provided.

You are welcome to bring a sandwich lunch. 

From the Director: Revd Dr Liz Carmichael, St John’s College.


Assistant Director of Studies: Claire MacLeod claire.macleod@theology.ox.ac.uk  

St Theosevia House (messages only): 01865 310341. 

Website: sttheosevia.org

                                                                                        January 2024

Dear Friends of St Theosevia’s,

Much has happened in the world since last term’s Newsletter, We will all have been praying, and continue to pray, for those suffering in violent conflict, not least in Ukraine and now also in the Holy Land. May we pray for God’s blessing on all who seek for a breakthrough to peace.

Thanks to all who participated in the well-attended and suitably enjoyable evening in memory of Metropolitan Kallistos. It was a worthy event! Equally compelling  was the Study Day on Holy Women, revealing a rich and varied mosaic of dedicated lives from Tuscany to Syria to Ethiopia.

This term we have two Study Days, both in early February .On Saturday 3 February we consider icons and their significance from a variety of points of view, both traditional and new. On the following Saturday, 10 February, we explore the use of symbols in spiritual writing by the great Syriac hymn-writer St Ephrem and the sixteenth-century mystical writer St Teresa of Avila. This promises to be a rich programme, and we hope you will be able to come to both events despite the dates being close.

With best wishes,   



Free tea and coffee are available at Study Days from 10 am and in the lunch break 1-2 pm. Bring packed lunch, or find food nearby in North Parade. If you are willing to help serve coffee you will have a free place – please leave a message on 01865 310341 or email Asst Director of Studies Claire MacLeod claire.macleod@theology.ox.ac.uk It will be appreciated if you can send a Newsletter Subscription, for costs and postage, suggested gift £5 pa. Send cash, or cheque to ‘St Theosevia Trust’, to: Newsletter, St Theosevia House, 2 Canterbury Rd, OX2 6LU. For bank details please ask Claire.

For the Oxford Centre for Spiritual  Growth (OCSG), see https://www.ocsg.uk.net/ or contact Ben Simpson at info@ocsg.uk.net

Saturday 3 February 10.30 am – 4 pm

Icons: a Way of Truly Seeing

Icons of Mary

Joanna Tulloch became interested in icons from her first encounter with Rublev’s Trinity when still a schoolgirl, in 1970’s Moscow. She painted her first icon in Russia in 2005, of Mary as the Mother of God of the Deesis. After an explanation of the Deesis and iconostasis, there follow examples of the many poses of Mary and scenes from her life that feature in festival icons.

Joanna is a Methodist Local Preacher, poet, artist, and amateur iconographer. She was a librarian in the Taylorian and then an editor of the OED. Now retired, she has published several books of poetry and painted about 40 icons. She lives in Oxford with her husband George and has a daughter and two grandchildren

From Object to Icon: how do we perceive each other?

Andrew Williams writes: St Mary of Egypt’s Life falls into two parts. The turning point is the moment of encounter when she turns her “bodily and spiritual eyes” on the icon of the Mother of God. Andrew’s book From Object to Icon. The Struggle for Spiritual Vision in a Pornographic World (2023) builds on this particular experience of repentance to draw out the contrast between a pornographic and an iconographic way of looking at the world and each other: between objectification and veneration. What can the experience of venerating icons teach us about the way we view others and interact with them, and about the way we present ourselves as an image for the eyes of others? Is there a sense in which we can see spiritually, and how might this differ from seeing physically?

Andrew has a MDiv in Theology/Ministry from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Boston, USA, an MSc in Counselling Psychology from Keele, and an MA(Oxon) in Music. He is now a healthcare chaplain working across mental health, acute, and palliative contexts, and is the course lead for the Post-Graduate Certificate in Psychospiritual Care run by Oxford Health and Oxford Brookes. He

How to Write Eternity? Making an Orthodox Icon

We welcome Revd Dr Dobromir Dimitrov, Bulgarian Orthodox priest, theologian and iconographer, back to Oxford where he was an OTEP Scholar 2014-2016, to speak and show practically how an icon is made.

Saturday 10 February 10.30 am – 4 pm

The Role of Symbols in St Ephrem the Syrian and St Teresa of Avila

The Role of Symbols in St Ephrem

Dr Sebastian Brock, a Trustee of St Theosevia’s, was for many years Reader in Syriac Studies in Oxford. He is a leading expert in Classical Syriac language and literature, and on the history of Syriac Christianity.

The Syriac poet and theologian St Ephrem (died 373) left a large body of stanzaic poems in which he explores the different ways in which symbols (Syriac raze. lit. mysteries) function in pointing to connections between the physical and spiritual worlds, between the Old and  New Testament, and between past, present and future. This talk will aim to illustrate and explain how his theory of symbolism works, focusing especially on his small group of poems on the pearl and its symbols.

St Teresa’s use of symbols in The Interior Castle

Julienne McLean practices as a psychologist, psychotherapist and Jungian analyst in north London, having studied in Australia, the United States and England. In private practice for nearly thirty years, she was on the clinical team at the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre in central London for fifteen years. She is also a spiritual director, who has had a lifelong involvement in the Christian contemplative tradition, with a particular interest in the relationship between modern depth psychology, prayer and Christian mysticism. She has taught at St Mary’s University, Strawberry Hill, London and Sarum College, Salisbury, where she is a Visiting Scholar in Christian Spirituality; and has been involved with the Centre for Applied Carmelite Spirituality (www.oxcacs.org) since 2018. She is the author of ‘Towards Mystical Union’ (St Pauls, 2003, 2013, 2017) a modern commentary on St Teresa’s  Interior Castle and ‘The Diamond Heart – Jungian Psychology and the Christian Mystical Tradition’. (Chiron Publications, USA, 2023).

Many of the key themes of Carmelite spirituality are expressed by  the two great Spanish Carmelites, Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) and John of the Cross (1542 – 1591), in symbols such as Elijah, Mary, the desert, the garden, the water of life, the purifying fires of Love, and the summit of mystical contemplation, Mount Carmel. In The Interior Castle (1570, Toledo), St Teresa used a creative, dynamic mix of  symbols to convey the many dimensions of the spiritual life and contemplative prayer. She describes the inner movement of the soul in search of God, privileging symbols connoting retreat, inwardness and interiority. In two lectures, Julienne will present St Teresa’s symbolic language of the soul in this text – interior castle, fountains, water, butterfly, and explore how St Teresa used these symbols of transformation from psychological and spiritual perspectives.