“He [Christ] is the image of the unseen God… the firstborn of all creation, for by him all things in heaven and earth were created…” (Colossians 1:15)
The word “icon” refers to the traditional form of sacred art developed within the Orthodox Church to serve three main purposes:
- Illustrate and instruct sacred scripture, the lives of the saints and liturgical texts.
- Support personal prayer and contemplation.
- Create a sacred environment for the liturgical celebrations of the church.
The English word “icon” is derived from the Greek word for “image.” The term “iconography,” also derived from the Greek, means “the making of images.” Not every image an artist may produce, however, qualifies as an icon. In the Orthodox Church, an icon must embody spiritual characteristics that help open our hearts and minds to the “Kingdom of God,” a reality that is in this world but not of it.
~Basil Lefchick, Iconographer