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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center

Ikon and Ikonography

 

Ikons Ikonostasis 1st
Sunday
Great
Lent

Triumph
of
Orthodoxy
(Sun.
of the)
4th
Week
After
Holy Cross

Fathers
of
7th
Ecumenical
Council
7th
Ecumenical
Council

Nicaea
II

 

"An icon is a sacred image, an image by which holiness is not only portrayed through wood and paints, but also is experienced by the actual presence of God. The ikon is a manifestation of God to us, in a sense it is a "window to heaven," a real presence of God, a real presence of the Holy in our midst."
His Excellency, Bishop Nicholas Samra

Another definition of an ikon is the following.
An icon is a painting, but it is very different from other types of paintings. Usually, the people are elongated, made almost abstract, and set in a symbolic or non-realistic setting. The reason is to focus attention on the spiritual reality being suggested. Often icons are symbolic pictures of an idea, a title of Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christor a title of The Theotokos, an event in the life of Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ or an event in in the life of The Theotokos. The icon attempts to convey the unique peace of the divine life through its unique style.

The ikon is a "formulated story" - a structured moral tale usually painted on wood and which is sometimes covered with an ornate, protective silver covering, leaving only the faces and hands of the figures uncovered. Ikons are objects which focus one's prayers and meditations towards heaven through symbolic representations of Christ, The Theotokos, saints and events in Scripture. The ikon is tradition-bound by a complex set of "unwritten" rules which govern image placement, proportional sizes of subjects, use of color, and most other aspects of creative development. The stylized quality of ikons is prized. Every aspect of ikonography is symbolic - the colors, the stances, the backgrounds, the arrangement of elements. It is considered to be poor form to depart from the tradition. Detail is kept to a minimum, colors are strong, perspective is stylized and figures are posed in certain set positions, each indicative of some quality. People are not meant to be realistic, but symbolic representations.

Celebration of ikons in the Liturgy

Ikons are celebrated in the Liturgy on two Sundays:

SundayEvent Celebrated
First Sunday of Great Lent:
The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy
The celebrates the Triumph of Orthodoxy: that is, the victory of the True Christian Faith over heresies and enemies. (It does not mean the modern-day Orthodox Churches.) It especially celebrates the defeat of the heresy of Iconoclasm.
Sunday of the 4thWeek After Holy Cross:
Fathers of 7th Ecumenical Council
The Seventh Ecumenical Council declared that ikons are proper in churches and homes, because they help Christians pray by reminding us of the presence of Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Saints.

Icons that depict Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ alone as a child or an adolescent

There are three icons that depict Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ alone as a child or an adolescent:

  • Emmanuel
  • Holy Wisdom
  • The Unsleeping Eye

Meditations

Collection of Reflections by Frances Collie Eparchy of Newton, (Our Lady of the Annunciation (Al Bisharah) in Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States

The Icon of the Annunciation, A Meditation by Mary Grace Ritchey, Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

The Icon of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, A Meditation by Mary Grace Ritchey, Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

The Icon of the Entrance into Jerusalem, A Meditation by Mary Grace Ritchey, Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

The Icon of the Nativity of the Mother of God, September 8th, A Meditation by Mary Grace Ritchey, Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

More Information

The Face of God By Fr. Joseph Hallit Melkite Greek Catholic Church Eparchy of Newton

Hymnography and iconography in the Melkite Church An introduction Please click on the title of the paper. The above article is taken from a conference paper presented by His Excellency, His Excellency, Bishop Nicholas Samra, Titular Bishop Gerasa and Auxiliary Bishop Newton, USA. The American usage and spelling have been maintained.

Iconography in the Eastern Church Saint Ann Melkite Catholic Church, West Patterson, NJ

Multimedia St. Elias Melkite Catholic Church, Cleveland, Ohio Page down to Articles - "The Icon" By: Andrew Higl, a parishioner

Resource Center Click on Ikons Sts. Peter and Paul Melkite Catholic Church, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Saint Joseph Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Lawrence, Massachusetts , Click on Fixed Feasts of the Lord, Mobile Feasts of the Lord, Feasts of Our Lady, Feast of Major Saints, The Triodion, and The Triodion for Great Lent

Orientale Lumen, Icons, Christian Iconography and Christian Icons or Ikons

Examples

Below are examples of ikons of the The Theotokos and Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Theotokos     Christ the Teacher

Theotokos     Christ the Teacher

Letters "IE|XE" (IE XE) or "IC|XC" (IC XC) on the ikons of Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ

Language/form of lettersLetters
Greek using Greek letters"IE" (Iota and Sigma) or "XE" (Chi and Sigma)
Anglicized Greek using English letters"IC" (Iota and Sigma) or "XC" (Chi and Sigma)

The letters "IE|XE" or "IC|XC" (with the bar above them) is the Greek contraction/abbreviation for Jesus Christ.

NameContraction/abbreviationContraction/abbreviation lettersWord letters
IÍsous (Jesus)"IE" or "IC"Iota and Sigma.Ioto, Epsilon, Sigma, Omicron, Upsilon, and Sigma.
Christos/Kristos (Christ)"XE" or "XC"Chi and Sigma.Chi, Rho, Iota, Simga, Tau, Omicron, and Sigma.

Bar above the Letters

In Greek, the bar above the letters means a contraction/abbreviation.
On ikons of Holy God the Son within the Holy Trinity / Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, often the "IE" or "IC" (with the bar above them) is on the left of Him and the "XE" or "XC" (with the bar above them) is on the right of Him.

Letters "MP OY" on the ikons of The Theotokos

In Greek, the bar above the letters means a contraction/abbreviation.
On ikons of The Theotokos, often the "MP" (with the bar above them) is on the left of her and the "OY" (with the bar above them) is on the right of her.
The letters "MP OY" (with the bar above them) is the Greek contraction/abbreviation for "Meter Theou" or Mother of God or The Theotokos.

Some books that may be of value

The books below may be a value to a person learning about icons:
The Icon Handbook by David Coomler
The Icon, Image of the Invisible: Elements of Theology, Aesthetics and Technique by Egon Sendler
The Meaning of Icons by Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky
The Technique of Icon Painting by Guillem Ramos-Poqui


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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center
Martha Liles
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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center is dedicated to my cousins: Bucky (Richard C. Liles) and Shirley (Shirley Jean Liles Buck). Bucky fell asleep in the Lord on Dec. 12, 2000 and Shirley fell asleep in the Lord on Nov. 8, 2001.
O God of all spirits and of all flesh, who have destroyed death, overcome the devil, and given life to the world: grant, O Lord, to the souls of your servants Bucky and Shirley, who has departed from this life, that it may rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. And since You are a gracious God and the Lover of Mankind, forgive him/her every sin he/she has committed by thought, or word, or deed, for there is not a man who lives and does not sin : You alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting, and your word is true. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and the repose of your departed servants Bucky and Shirley. O Christ our God, and we send up glory to You, together with your eternal Father and your all-holy, good and life-givng Spirit, now and always and for ages upon ages. Amen.

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Last Updated: Sunday, January 10, 2010, 20:04:34, CST
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