This is one of my favorite modern icons, called Our Lady Stella Maris (Star of the Sea). It was recently commissioned by the Apostleship of the Sea (GB). It was a painted by Dr Stephane Rene in neo-Coptic style. The Coptic desert fathers included St Jerome, who first recorded ‘stella maris‘ as a name for Our Lady. It has been reported on various Catholic websites that the term “Our Lady” in Aramaic could be translated as pilot, leader or guide, and that Stella Maris is the oldest of Mary’s many titles. Stars were guideposts to ancient navigators on sea or land. Lastly, we know the name. The idea that Mary is the guiding star to her son is an very old one.
An interactive icon that details the meaning of all the elements of the icon can be found here, just roll your mouse over each part. For example the boat represents the spiritual path of the individual believer and it also represents the church navigating throughout time. The four fish represent the four gospels, and are an ancient symbol for Jesus. I’ve seen a couple of Dr Rene’s icons and the four fish seem to be common.
The many missions, hostels and ships called ‘Star of the Sea’ call upon Our Lady as their patron and guide.