ICONS – An Ancient Tradition of Christianity

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Icons are sacred images meant for liturgical and personal prayer. Veneration means giving profound respect and honor to the person or moment depicted. Orthodox believers only worship Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Icons preach in color and pictures what the Bible preaches in sound and words. Icons guide those who venerate them into a closer relationship with God. They provide a focus of attention and a space for communion in prayer.

The painting and veneration of icons is an ancient Christian tradition. The question making images for veneration was settled at the seventh Ecumenical Counsel in 787. It was decided that for Christians to be true to the incarnation of Jesus as fully God and fully man, he must be depicted as a human being, both God and man. The Old Testament prohibitions against depicting God were surpassed by Jesus becoming one of us. There is no attempt to make an historical portrait of him rather we make icons of him that teach us about different aspects of his life and resurrection. We depict saints for veneration because they have incarnated Christ in their lives and their icons point always to Christ as the holy prototype.

The icons I paint are done on specially prepared wooden boards. I mix dry pigments with egg yolk to make the colors I use. The raw pigments come from the minerals in rocks and different colors of clay in the earth. This egg tempera technique has been continued unchanged for at least 16 centuries.

For more information please read: On the Divine Images, by St. John of Damascus, and On the Holy Icons by St. Theodore the Studite.