What are Icons?
Icons are representations of the Heavenly. They are expressions of Orthodox Faith, teaching, and worship. The Greek word for “Icon” is, “Αγιογραφία,” which can be separated into two words:
Άγιο, meaning Holy or not of this world (Heavenly)
Γράφω, meaning to write
Therefore, Icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. Icons can only be created with the blessing of the Church, as they are writings of Truth.
The Orthodox Church uses icons to assist in worship. Icons are a ‘window to heaven’ and they help us to focus on the divine things. While the icons still contain material aspects, like paint and colour, we are taught not to reject our physical life but instead to transform it, as was done by the holy people represented by the icons. It is important to note that the icons themselves are venerated only, not worshipped; we only worship God in the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
Sunday of Orthodoxy & the Seventh Ecumenical Council
The Seventh Ecumenical Council was formed in 787 AD, in Nicaea, to combat the controversy regarding icons and their place in Orthodox worship.
This controversy was referred to as the Iconoclastic Crisis. During this time, the Church was divided into the iconoclasts (those against the use of icons in worship), and the Orthodox (those for the use of icons in worship). The emperors at that time had great influence on the Church, and several themselves were iconoclasts. Thus, a decree was issued against the use of icons in worship. As a result, Churches were stripped of their icons.
However, after a Regional Synod was called in Constantinople, the iconoclasts were finally defeated. The use of icons in Orthodox worship, for veneration, was proclaimed and the icons were restored to their rightful place in the Church. A procession was then held, venerating the icons and celebrating in this victory.
Therefore, the Seventh Ecumenical Council holds that reverencing an icon is not idolatrous because as it points to the divine, it is in fact Christ whom we honour.
Every year on the first Sunday of Lent (Sunday of Orthodoxy), we remember this great victory over the iconoclasts. We too hold a procession around the Church with the icons, venerating them, as is rightful. We remember that icons are to be venerated and used to help us in our own spiritual struggle by remembering the life of the depicted Saint, or event.
Evangelismos Church Iconography Project
In January 2010, Iconographer Mr John Kalentzis (from Adelaide) took on the task of furnishing the walls of the inside of our Church with icons. What used to be bare white walls, were to be transformed into representations of the Heavenly, where proper veneration of them can take place.
As in the case of Solomon and the temple that he built for God, going beyond measure in all things, making this temple the greatest to ever exist, so it is fitting that our Church too have the best.
Selection of Icons
The Church was split up into zones, and these are as follows:
- Lower Zone – 35 Saints from the skirting boards to the bottom of the windows
- Middle Zone – 22 compositions based on dual saints and the miracles of the Church
- Upper Zone – 24 scenes from the Akathist Hymn
- Side Wings – 16 Festal Icons
- Dome – 4 compositions from the Old Testament
- Entrance – 4 compositions of the life cycle of John the Baptist, 2 Stylite Saints & 2 Prophets.
- Sanctuary – 10 Church Fathers
If you would like to put money towards donating an icon, please see a member of the Committee and they will be happy to assist.