“An icon is a visible image of the invisible. It is given to us that our understanding may be filled with its sweetness.”
―St. John of Damascus
Iconography is an artistic tradition spanning throughout a two thousand year history, described as a practice, an expression of love, labor-intensive, not hidden, pointing directly to a lineage given by God's gracious gifts and is bestowed upon us through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In iconography, He has given to us the privilege of returning to Him the rendering of his creation through the holy icons.
The word icon comes from the Greek word eikon which means image. Icon as a portrait of Jesus Christ, perfectly shows us the human and divine side of Christ, as the first icon. Our Lady, Mother Mary, The Apostles, His holy saints, and angels are depicted symbolically, in color, and materials defining the language of the Gospels. “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)
The icons developed artistic language derived from early Byzantine artists yolk has been loosened, yet remains unchanged. Canons of rule laid down by the early Church's first ecumenical councils are continued, in the practice by iconographers today. The depth of the Christian faith is revealed to us through the icon. St. John The Theologian said, And the word was made flesh. In his defense of the holy icons throughout the most political and threatening epoch to the history of the icon. We are made to see the actual image of humanity in the icon and when icons are approached we are engaged, invited to prayer, thus invoking a deeper relationship with God.
Pope John Paul II expresses to us in his letter to artists the very essence of the icon; God, therefore, called man into existence, committing to him the craftsman's task. Through his “artistic creativity” man appears more than ever “in the image of God”, and he accomplishes this task above all in shaping the wondrous “material” of his own humanity and then exercising creative dominion over the universe which surrounds him. With loving regard, the divine Artist passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power. Obviously, this is a sharing which leaves intact the infinite distance between the Creator and the creature, as Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa made clear: "Creative art, which it is the soul's good fortune to entertain, is not to be identified with that essential art which is God himself, but is only a communication of it and a share in it."
That is why artists, the more conscious they are of their “gift”, are led all the more to see themselves and the whole of creation with eyes able to contemplate and give thanks and to raise to God a hymn of praise. This is the only way for them to come to a full understanding of themselves, their vocation and their mission.
Iconography describes the transfiguration of the flesh, defines the human nature of the divine and emanates light, therefore filling us with Gods light.