A Short History of Icons 

 

Icons: a door or the window into eternity.  The idea of an icon as a window refers to one looking into the eternal, but as a door one enters into the communion of the eternal, into the heavenly.  

    In the history of icons there is a continuity and yet variety.  Time tradition and culture span and intertwine the tradition and spiritual reality of the icon.  Icon painting is a "priestly work" where the iconagrapher takes that which is earthly and transcends through the icon painting into the heavenly.  For God is present in all his creation  and there is the beauty of God in all.  

    The word icon comes from the greek eikona, image or likeness. We are made in the image and likeness of God, but Jesus is the true Image of God made flesh.  It is the incarnation that brought the icon to life.  The first icon is traditionaly that icon not painted by human hands, the vera icon or the true icon, Veronica, the veil that she gave Jesus and on which He wiped His face, His image was miraculously imprinted on the cloth.  Jesus being the I Am made flesh, God made man now makes it possible to represent His image and likeness for He took on flesh.      

Saint John Damascus

                                       ... I worship the one... who was formed as I was,

                                       who clothed Himself in creation without debasement

                                       or departing from His divinity, that He might raise

                                       my nature in glory and make it a partaker of His divine nature.

 

     So the icon is an entering into that which Christ has made divine, that which we are able to paricipate in and enter into especialy through the communion of the saints.  It is this image and likeness that we venerate and honor in the saints, Christ shining forth through them, holiness as an image or icon of Christ in the saints, and in all creation.