Likenesses of Saint Nicholas
Part of the Saint Nicholas Page honoring Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker
Orthodox Christianity prefers icons (Greek eikonas - "images") to other representations of saints and sacred scenes. Icons are painted (or "written", as some prefer) prayerfully in a style which purposely avoids a realistic depiction. They are both teaching aids and "windows into heaven", reminding us of the union with God ("theosis") that is the end of our spiritual endeavors, and of the "great cloud of witnesses" that has preceded us in the faith.
In Orthodox Christian practice (and in Roman Catholic usage,) icons are not worshiped as some mistakenly suppose, for God alone is worshiped. Rather, icons are venerated: shown great respect, carried in processions, kissed. They are, if you will, the family pictures. The devotion shown to the icon is considered to be given directly to the ones depicted on the icon.
"Icons are in colors what the Scriptures are in words: witnesses to the Incarnation, the fact that God has come among us as a person whom we can see, touch and hear, to offer us the new life and begin the new creation."
( As proclaimed by the 7th Ecumenical Council held in Nicea in 787 A.D.)
For a concise description of the purpose of icons in the Orthodox Church, see WINDOWS INTO HEAVEN from Tom Tsagalakis Iconography Seattle, WA. Tom (Rev. Fr. Athanasios) is an ordained priest of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, recently appointed as pastor of Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church Kenmore (Seattle), Washington
"Icon" normally means a painted image on a flat panel or wall, or a mosaic, used as part of Christian reverential practice, but depictions of Saint Nicholas show up in a great variety of media:
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Last modified December 31, 2009, Saint Melania, Nun of Rome
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