Paolo Orlando was born in Monfalcone and lives in Doberdo, Gorizia, Italy. A Doctor in Theology (Pontifical University St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome) he began working as a redactor, lecturer and teacher of theology and Russian language at the Seriate Christian Center in Russia, thus getting in touch with various ecclesial Catholic and ordained realities.
As an iconographer, his study started with p. Egon Sendler of the St. George Center in Meudon-Paris, becoming an assistant. In 1982, he decided to dedicate himself to iconography after having asked for and obtained the blessing of John Paul II in a casual personal encounter. He works in Moscow at the Grabar Institute with A. Ovcinnikov and St. Petersburg, at the Orthodox Theological Academy with A. Stalnov and N. Bogdanov. He has performed monumental sacred paintings in various locations in Italy.
Painting pictures for worship I started almost by accident.
For study, I had gone to Russia during the communist persecution and some Christians had moved me with their faith. Their love for God could express at that time just lighting a candle in front of the icons. I loved them, their icons, I loved God who repeatedly wants to be seen.
By working with an Italian Catholic Center that kept relations with Russian Christian communities, I had the opportunity to meet a master iconographer. I followed him and then I also started to teach what I was learning. To my surprise I saw many people remain fascinated and then devoted to iconography. Together, we have rediscovered a rich ecclesiastical heritage to which repossess.
Today, the sacred images painted according to the ancient tradition of the Church (icons) are now widely used in almost all Italian parishes, with almost all the youth groups. They can be found in all the shops of religious articles and there are several hundred Italian texts that deal with icons.
It is not uncommon to see them then also depicted on the walls of our churches. I think I have decorated more than a score in Italy (but also in France, Greece, Ivory Coast, Peru, Taiwan ...).
A church I painted in Africa, on the outskirts of Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast. Accomplished work (the decoration of the back wall, for about 290 square meters) and returned to Italy, after a certain time meeting a missionary sister, Alina, who tells me of a singular experience.
One Sunday morning, in the church that I had recently painted, she noticed a woman who continued to repeatedly enter and leave; She approached her and asked: "Do you need help?". The woman replied with some agitation that she wanted to be allowed to come and pray there.
Alina continued: "You can do without asking." The woman said: "But I'm Muslim!"
The woman had never entered a church before and only by chance had happened to the market facing the unknown building; she herself was surprised by the words that came from her mouth: "I want to become a Christian" (as later happened). And she explained: "I had never been in this place, but this morning before I woke up I heard the voice of God telling me to come here, His home. And in a dream I saw exactly the same pictures painted here.