It is widely accepted that during the last century the human kind went from a “civilization of the word” into a “civilization of the image”. Indeed, from all sides we are engulfed in images. The number and the intensity of organised visual information that we receive each day would be unimaginable to a human being living in the past. It could be said that our time has brought a kind of hyper-production and inflation of images.

“Holy Image”… To a 21st century man this may sound anachronous, even unbelievable.

One of the intrinsic traits of the Eastern Orthodox Church are indeed “holy images” – the icons, that is, making obeisance to the icons of the Theanthropos, God-Man Jesus Christ, of the Most Holy Theotokos, Virgin Mary the Birth-giver of God, as well as of those of the saints.

There is an essential difference between the Orthodox and heterodox understanding of holy images. While at the West holy images have a goal to induce a certain religious excitement with their vividness, impressiveness of presentation and, by evoking the persons on the images, bring a pious soul to adulation, the Orthodox icon serves as a link between the one who prays and God, Theotokos and the sanctified.

The icon serves as a means of approximation
to the transcendental being of the Divinity.

The mysterious icons show, but at the same time, also contain that which is hidden from a common eye.

A Christian is not simply a viewer of an icon, but is above all a devotee and an Iconodule (one who respects icons) because through the holy icon man experiences spiritual rebirth and enters into unity with the Living God.

The word εἰκών – icon, image, likeness, figure, type, comes from the Ancient Greek verb εϊκω or έικα , meaning: (I) look alike, am similar, am alike, appear, am the same.

The Old Testament describes holy history. The fall of man from God and the painstaking deliverance to God from a world in which by his own will man has become an unprotected toy of a variety of spiritual forces. From a world of idols.

In the Old Testament, painting and sculpting were not discarded as harmful and useless, so therefore images and symbols did exist in the Temple of the Old Testament. Drawings and iconic representations of the invisible God were forbidden.

Since idolatrous peoples had made statues of their gods, the Old Testament laws forbade creation of statues of such gods, above all with an aim to prevent the fall of Israelites into idolatry.

The Holy Scripture of the Old Testament notes the words of the Triune God: “Let us make a man in our image, after our likeness”.

However, the expression in image (after an image, after a model) is used completely differently, it is much deeper and signifies an internal link and spiritual kindred of man with God the Maker. It would be absurd to think that man’s outward physical appearance represents the real, actual image of God. It is exactly the existence of this image of God in man that helps man to get to know the Lord, get to know himself and the world around himself.

It can be said that by becoming incarnate, the Lord,
God-Beyond-Description, describes, depicts Himself.

He, who is God, deigned to appear in the human flesh of ours, so that we could see, in the same way as we see when depicting, the divine model of living, and so that in this manner we would be able to imitate the One who made that image.

The man has again become the icon of God, an image painted by the finest of painters – Jesus Christ, and thus as a spiritually revamped and rekindled icon of God, the man expresses the beauty of his Paragon, Prototype, Model, Original.