Thursday, January 13, 2011

The "Art" of Writing Icons

The Orthodox Church has long been known for expressing her theology through iconography. Indeed, our precious Faith is visually brought to life with the sacred images that adorn our churches and our homes. By definition, icons are “two-dimensional images of Christ, the Theotokos, the Saints, important Biblical events or significant events in Church History.” St. Gregory the Dialogist refers to icons as being “scriptures to the illiterate,” making the point that one can simply look at an icon and learn lessons that may take volumes to express in words. Icons are meant to lift up our thoughts to heavenly things or, as St. John of Damascus writes: “We are led by icons to the contemplation of that which is divine and spiritual.”

The Evangelist Luke is said to have been the first iconographer. He “WROTE” the icon of the Theotokos (icons are written, not painted) known as the Directress, or “The one who points the way.” Since then, true iconographers have dedicated their lives to expressing the dogmas and teachings of the Church through their works. To be an iconographer, one truly must experience a calling from the Lord. An iconographer must pray and fast prior to beginning their work. Writing an icon is said to be, in itself, a form of prayer. Iconographers have maintained that each stroke of their brush is a meditation, which constantly remind them of the necessity of inner peace as they proceed with their work. An iconographer never “SIGNS” an icon, for it is not really his or her work, bur merely a depiction of what has been revealed to them through the grace of the Holy Spirit. May we pray that the Church will continue to be blessed with men and women dedicated to preserving this wonderful aspect of our Holy Orthodox Faith.
The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin …… Vestal, Cliffwood, New Jersey …… Litho in U.S.A.

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