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What is Icon? Why and how we use them?


Holy Crucifixion [Jn 19:25]

Icon is a painting or Holy Image that used as an aid to devotion. Icon have been in use since the earliest days of the Christian Church. Actually, It God Himself who ordered to Moses in Exodus 25: 18 to make a picture of an Angel on the Arc of the Covenant saying, "And thou shalt make two cherubim's of gold, . . .". Icons have served a manifold purpose in the Orthodoxy . They help teach the faithful about God, help to learn about the lives, devotion and struggles of the depicted saint, and aid the faithful in prayer and meditation on the person or events depicted. Icons can serve one's mind to keep it from wandering and help focus one's attention on prayer. The icons which fill the church serve as point of meeting between heaven and earth. As each local congregation prays Sunday by Sunday surrounded by the figures of Holy Trinity, Our Lord and Savior, St. Mary, Angels and saints, these visible images remind the faithful unceasingly of the invisible presence of the whole company of heaven at the Liturgy. To venerate or kiss an Icon is to express one’s love and respect to the one represented on the picture. They also served as a reminder to all the Orthodox of God's omnipresence and immanence in the world. In the beginning of Christian Church St John the Evangelist is believed to draw the Icon of Our Lord’s Crucifixion as he saw Him on Good Friday [Jn 19:25]. The Icon of St Mary with Her beloved baby Jesus was drawn by St. Luke as expressed on a Hymn about Icon, “Salutation to your Icon as Luke one of the wise evangelists drew it by his hand” [Melkea’ Seil]

Icon of St Mary with Her beloved Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Church has make quite clear that the faithful do not worship the wood and paint, but show their respect for the person depicted. They made a clear distinction between adoration (i.e., worship, due to God alone) and veneration (i.e., deep respect). The pagans worshiped idols because they believed that the deity was present in the stone or wood. The Orthodox make no such claim concerning icons. Icons are only images of the person depicted; therefore, do not venerate the wood but the person whose image it bears. The Church believes and teaches that we should say grace, give honor, bow, kneel down and beseech for mercy through the consecrated Icon of the Lord, Our Lady, Angels, Saints and Martyrs.

“I bow down before your icon and I submit to the icon of your son, Mary the Virgin, Mary the mother of God” [Melka’ Seil- Hymn of icon].

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