Learn to Paint Icons in the Holy Land with Palestinian Christians, And Earn Studio Credit for Pontifex University’s Masters in Sacred Arts

Icon painting classes at the Bethlehem Icon Center.

Pontifex University is offering its students a chance to earn studio credit on its Master in Sacred Arts Program through icon painting classes at the Bethlehem Icon Center. Yes, Bethlehem – in the Holy Land! This is one of a number of such partnerships in which by offering credit we bring traditional arts back into the mainstream. The Bethlehem Icon Center teaches in English and a large proportion of its students are local Palestinian Christians. You can read about our developing institutional connections here.


With a series of classes with the highest standard of tuition, this is a great way to earn studio credit for the studio classes of the Masters in Sacred Arts. Each residential class earns credit for an additional fee paid to Pontifex University of just $150 per credit. You simply register for their courses as you would otherwise, paying the Bethlehem Icon Center direct for tuition.


The school offers two 7-day short courses for paying customers, which cost £200 (GBP) for seven days tuition and lunches. Accomodation can be arranged, typically $20-$50 (USD). The next one is in April – ending the day before Holy Thursday. Then after that there is one in the Fall, in about a year’s time.

The two-year certificate is full time. It is three 8-week terms (Oxbridge timing) during the year. This means that someone from abroad could do this on a tourist visa, travelling in and out of the country. It costs 1,200NIS (New Isreali Schekels) per year, plus of cost of materials and some tools.

In addition you can arrange just to come for personal tuition for up to a month by negotiation with Ian.

Classes and tuition are offered by its founding director, Ian Knowles and its leading patron is the Melkite archbishop – His Beatitude Gregory III, Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and All the East.


As a measure of the esteem with which Ian and his students are held, those who do the 2-year diploma program are guaranteed work as iconographers afterwards through the icon studio which has a steady stream of commissions from around the world.

Furthermore, this has to be one of the best value art schools around. Tuition is offered at a price that is in accord with the local market and so is a fraction of the cost of equivalent classes in America or Britain. These savings alone would pay for a huge proportion of travel. The Centre can offer help in sourcing accomodation, which again will be at local prices which are substantially lower than London or the East Bay in California!


This would be a great chance to make a visit to the Holy Land. You could combine it with the pilgirmage led by Pontifex University professor, Fr Sebastian Carnazzo who teaches Scripture and Theology. Fr Caranazzo, who is also a Melkite Greek Catholic, always incorporates the study of the traditional icons of the Church (East and West) into his classes. You can earn studio credit through the pilgrimage too – if you submit a paper at the end of the 10 day program, you will qualify for 3 credits too.


We will be blogging regularly about the Bethlehem Icon Centre and the work of Ian Knowles. He has created a unique place of learning and beauty that unites us with the prayer of the Church. There are so many wonderful features to this that we cannot hope to give you the full picture in one short blog piece. Watch this space! Or investigate yourself at bethlehemiconcentre.org.


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