Sofia Atlantova | Saint Pharaidis


Saint Pharaidis, 2023
Tempera and gold leaf on fragment from wooden box for AK cartridges brought from the battle field in Bakhmut, Ukraine
40 x 35 cm | 16 x 14 in

St. Pharaildis is the patron saint of sick children, livestock, small animals, and victims of abuse. The years of her life are approximately 650-740. Married against her will, she suffered abuse and domestic violence from her husband who was jealous of his wife’s love for the Lord. After her husband’s death, St. Pharaildis kept her beliefs and continued to lead a pious life as a widow. People would come to her for advice and comfort. We often see a goose depicted next to the saint. According to a legend, a bird was stolen, fried and eaten. The saint gathered the remains and the goose came back to life and flew away. The loaves of bread in the picture are from another legend: once a poor woman asked a rich woman for bread for her sick children. When the greedy lady refused, the beggar cried out in despair, “Let St. Pharaildis turn the loaves into stone!” And the bread turned into a treasure trove of stones. The challenges that many Ukrainian women are currently facing drew my attention to this little known saint in Ukraine.

© Sofia Atlantova

Icons on Ammunition Boxes ™

From 2014, Ukrainian artists Sofia Atlantova and Olexander Klimenko have been using wooden fragments from ammunition boxes abandoned by Russian soldiers on the battle fields in Ukraine to paint icons and donating all sale proceeds to mobile hospitals that provide urgent medical care to wounded Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in late February, 2022, their work remains more relevant than ever.