Friday, March 18, 2016

Dishonouring the Image

Icons and Orthodoxy go hand in hand. However, due to the iconoclastic controversy, the existence of icons were brought into question. How should we act towards the icon? What does the icon symbolise? St John of Damascus examines this issue in depth in his three Treatises on the Divine Images. However, other hierarchs, saints and Church Fathers expressed their views. The most holy and most blessed Archbishop of Theoupolis [Antioch] and Patriarch, Anastasios, on the Sabbath, to Symeon, bishop of Bostra, explains:

‘Just as in the absence of the Emperor his image is venerated in his stead, so in his presence it would be strange to neglect the archetype and venerate the image; but this does not mean that, because it is not venerated when the one for whose sake it is venerated is present, it must be dishonoured. . .
For just as he who abuses the image of the emperor suffers punishment as if he had dishonoured the Emperor himself, even though the image is nothing other than wood and paints mixed and blended with wax, in the same way he who dishonours the figure of someone offers an insult to the one whose figure it is.’[1]

[1] Anastasios of Antioch, Fragment on the Sabbath, (PG 89.1405). Quoted at Nicaea II. 

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