The God-inspired Fathers teach that an icon should be viewed in two dimensions: one dimension relates to the icon, which Saint Basil the Great refers to as a natural icon or a born icon, and the second dimension refers to the so-called icon made with hands, an icon by form.

A natural icon is in essence identical with its Ancient Model (Prototype). A natural Icon is understood to mean Jesus Christ because He is the icon of the non-inferable God, and shows that which is hidden, e.g. He (the Son of God) as an Icon testifies to the divinity of God the Father and shows God the Father.

According to His Divinity, the incarnated Word of God (Jesus Christ) is a natural icon of God the Father.

In this case the Image and the Prototype have one and the same nature – Divine, but they are different “hypostatically” that is, they are different Hypostases. Such resemblance exists between father and son, and every man is a natural icon (image) of his father and his mother with whom is identified by substance, and is distinguished by his personality.

As the Father is in the Son, and Son is in the Father, then the Prototype and the Icon are inseparable one from another. The incarnate Son of God, therefore, presents in Himself God the Father, so that we see the Father in the Son.

The icon made with hands we could characterize as a visible link – a sacred bridge between the invisible prototype and the faithful man, by which man enters into a living communion with the Triune God.

God gave to a Christian man the immaterial grace so that by the immaterial sight of his mind he could comprehend the invisible reality through the icon made with hands. In this sense, the icon serves as a wonder-making living mirror.

Of particular importance for the understanding of icons made with hands is the fact that they always represent and portray historical figures (Jesus Christ or the saints) with certain characteristics, and iconographers never paint imaginary or non-existent person.

As for the representation of celestial beings – Angels, one should say the following: even though these are invisible spiritual beings, they still can be visually depicted because they existed in history in the human form and thus were visible.

Therefore, by their name, icons acquire the might of their Prototype, elevates us to the holy Prototype, First Image – Christ and the deified, redeemed, spiritually reshaped people and people sanctified in divine grace. In this manner, between the Prototype and man – Iconodule – an intellectual and loving dialogue and communion takes place.

According to the Orthodox understanding, when Christians talk about the icon of the Theanthropos Jesus Christ, they can simultaneously speak of the icon of Christ and of Christ. This they can do so because the name of the icon is in the same relationship with the Original in which the icon itself is.

The God-man Jesus Christ is by His name, that is, by his person, hypostatically present on His icon. Through His icon made with hands Christians are provided a possibility to spiritually rise up to Him, and to spiritually grow by the grace of Christ’s fullness.

Orthodox Christians are not silent observers of icons made with hands, but they are living and personal interlocutors with the living characters represented in icons made with hands.

An Orthodox Christian is invited to lead a living and personal spiritual conversation with the image (name) of the icon, and thus overcome his loneliness and become a catholic being, sanctified by Divine Grace – a being of the Community of the Church.