Why do Orthodox Christians Have Icons

Orthodox Christianity 101
By Orthodoxy Christianity 101
March 25, 2024

Orthodox Christians have long revered icons as a way to connect with their faith and the saints who have gone before them. These sacred images are seen as more than just artwork; they are believed to be windows into the divine, offering glimpses of the transcendent reality of God and the saints.

But what exactly are icons, and why are they so important to Orthodox Christians?

Icons are religious images that are painted, usually on wood, using a style that originated in the Eastern Roman Empire. They depict Jesus, Mary, and the saints, as well as biblical scenes and events. Icons are often decorated with gold leaf or other precious materials, and are meant to be venerated, not worshipped.

Orthodox Christians believe that icons are a way to connect with the divine through the saints. They are seen as a way to honor and remember the lives of these holy men and women, and to ask for their intercession with God. Many Orthodox Christians will have icons of their patron saint in their homes, and will pray before them as a way to draw closer to God.

Icons are also seen as a way to connect with the biblical stories and events that are depicted. For example, an icon of the Nativity scene can help a person to meditate on the birth of Jesus, and to reflect on the meaning of that event. Similarly, an icon of the Last Supper can help a person to contemplate the sacrifice that Jesus made for humanity.

One of the unique features of Orthodox icons is the way that they are painted. There is a specific style that is used, called the “Byzantine style,” which originated in the Eastern Roman Empire. This style is characterized by the use of gold leaf, bright colors, and highly stylized figures. The faces of the saints in particular are often depicted with a serene and peaceful expression, which is meant to convey the idea that they have attained a higher level of spiritual understanding.

In addition to being a way to connect with the divine and the saints, icons are also seen as a way to express the Orthodox faith visually. They are an important part of Orthodox worship, and are often displayed in churches and other holy spaces. Many Orthodox Christians will also have icons in their homes, as a way to create a sacred space where they can pray and meditate.

Overall, icons are a central part of the Orthodox Christian faith. They are seen as a way to connect with God, the saints, and the biblical stories that are central to the faith. They are also an important way to express the Orthodox faith visually, and are an integral part of Orthodox worship and devotion.

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