Our Lady Untier of Knots

by Regan O'Callaghan on September 11, 2017

Over three years ago I was commissioned to paint this icon by a friend in Canada.   The image of Our Lady is apparently one of Pope Francis’ favourites.  My journey with this icon was intense with much soul searching and contemplation. Having completed and delivered the icon its message still speaks and in many ways the journey has only just begun.  

The following text is by Barbara Susan Booth who commissioned the icon.

Untying Knots

Mary Untier of Knots is not your average religious icon. It delivers its gift most generously and really works heart to heart loosening the chains that bind and old patterns that tie us in knots.

Icons like images do, reach our hearts without the plethora of words that can keep us in our minds. Mary relates energetically to me when our eyes meet. I can tell I am in the presence of the Sacred when tears spill out of my eyes unbidden. There is more to this experience than meets the eye.

I commissioned this icon over three years ago and it took that long before I could actually hold in in my hands. It spoke powerfully to the artist as well as to me and was not an easy one to create. When Regan and I were together in Guelph, in June 2017 we welcomed the icon to help us prayerfully and ritually release some of the knots that were keeping us up tight in our individual lives. It seemed when we were gathered together the benefits multiplied and three months later I still see more results manifesting.

We actually bought a cord and tied knots in it so we could literally untie them while we spoke out loud what the knots represented in our lives. We each put one end of our cord in the fireplace while we untied the other end. This aspect came from a dream Regan had to put part of the cord in the fire.

I worked on untying the knot of fear that prevented me from speaking what I really wanted to say. Releasing this fear did not mean being disrespectful to others but saying what was true for me and not damming up my voice with unnecessary and habitual caution. I can now actually say: “It doesn’t interest me” when such a comment helps me be true to myself.

I love the image of untying. Like in knitting, untying takes more time than cutting and discarding and you can still use the yarn to knit into a new part of your work. Untying knots in our lives takes time to attend to what needs untangling and the freed energy is intact to be used in strengthening productive patterns.

Three months later with my icon hung over my bed I continue to experience the rich gift of remembering to invite Mary and take the time needed to untie knots. I have since let go of my business and have turned my new energy to a different creative expression which delights me. None other than icon painting, and of course Mary.


Barbara Susan Booth

Guelph, ON

Sept. 10, 2017

Prints of this icon are available for sale here

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