Celebrating Orthodox Sunday

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  
  
  
  
  
  
    Hanging in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, this Madonna and Child (1440-1445) by Filippo Lippi demonstrates how the icons adapted to the evolution in painting in the Renaissance.  Commissioned by the Medici family as an altarpiece for the Novitiate Chapel the style has moved from the traditional Byzantine flat surface of the typical icon to the more three dimensional and dramatic depiction of the Madonna and child’s surroundings.  According to the accompanying description in the Uffizi: St Francis receives the Stigmata and St. Cosmas and St. Damian heal Justinian; the Nativity; the martyrdom of St Cosmas and St Damian, the Miracle of St Anthony

Hanging in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, this Madonna and Child (1440-1445) by Filippo Lippi demonstrates how the icons adapted to the evolution in painting in the Renaissance.  Commissioned by the Medici family as an altarpiece for the Novitiate Chapel the style has moved from the traditional Byzantine flat surface of the typical icon to the more three dimensional and dramatic depiction of the Madonna and child’s surroundings.  According to the accompanying description in the Uffizi: St Francis receives the Stigmata and St. Cosmas and St. Damian heal Justinian; the Nativity; the martyrdom of St Cosmas and St Damian, the Miracle of St Anthony

After determining the icons should be venerated but not worshipped the council took extreme measure, to define what constituted veneration versus worship.  The following is taken from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website:  https://www.goarch.org/-/the-first-sunday-of-lent-the-sunday-of-orthodoxy

"We define that the holy icons, whether in colour, mosaic, or some other material, should be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on the sacred vessels and liturgical vestments, on the walls, furnishings, and in houses and along the roads, namely the icons of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, that of our Lady the Theotokos, those of the venerable angels and those of all saintly people. Whenever these representations are contemplated, they will cause those who look at them to commemorate and love their prototype. We define also that they should be kissed and that they are an object of veneration and honour (timitiki proskynisis), but not of real worship (latreia), which is reserved for Him who is the subject of our faith and is proper for the divine nature. The veneration accorded to an icon is in effect transmitted to the prototype; he who venerates the icon, venerated in it the reality for which it stands".

Pope Hadrian of Rome agreed with the solution and in a letter to Empress Theodora gave his approval for the return of the icons.

The name Sunday of Orthodoxy refers back to 843 when Empress Theodora called the Endemousa Synod in Constantinople.  With her son Michael III, the church patriarch Methodious, all the monks and the clergy Theodora marched into the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople, and hung the icons back in their original places. 

The conclusion and understanding was the icons are an integral component of the religious experience necessary for the people to accept the Christian story.  With the icon’s return to the churches the age of pictures as story telling had returned.

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