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Use of Icons in the Orthodox Church

            St John of Damascus says "The Icon is a song of triumph, and a revelation, and an enduring monument to the victory of the Saints and the disgrace of the demons.".
             The word Icon means a picture of an image. In Christian Orthodoxy, believers do not worship icons, they respect them. This is done because the Icons are seen as a way of joining them to the goodness and holiness of God and His saints.
             When a Christian Orthodox goes to a church, s/he lights a candle, makes a sign of the cross, and then kisses the Icons of Christ, Mary, and the Saints. The Icons of the Saints vary according to the church. The church also has the Icon of its patron Saint, placed on a lectern in the centre of the church with candle stands nearby.
             The screen that separates the altar from the main body of the church is called the iconostasis because it holds a series of Icons. There are two aspects of the iconostasis, the South and the North. These two aspects are divided by central double doors known as the Royal Doors or Holy Doors. Usually the first Icon to the right of the Holy Doors is the Icon of Christ, to the left is the Icon of the Mother of God, portrayed with Christ cradled in her arms. The Icon depicted on the Holy Doors is the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. Icons of the four Evangelists are often found in the Holy Doors.
             These Holy Doors, for the Christian Orthodox, show the way heaven and earth are reunited by Christ. The Icon of the Annunciation serves as a reminder that God came down to the earth as a person and the Icons of the Four Evangelists are used as a reminder that the way one can come to God is through the teachings of the Gospel.
             Christian Orthodox believers see the Icons as more than just religious pictures. They are seen as means of communicating complicated beliefs in simpler forms that make understanding of the beliefs easier. In earlier times, Icons were used to depict Gospel events to Christians who were not able to read the Gospel for themselves.

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