A Greek Orthodox Icon of Athanasius the Great

A Greek Orthodox Icon of Athanasius the Great

Athanasius the Great is a renowned saint who is widely venerated by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He is considered one of the most vigorous opponents of Arianism. Persecuted by heretics and repeatedly banished from the pulpit, Athanasius the Great steadfastly preached faith in one God up to his death. Keep reading to know more about Saint Athanasius and his Greek Orthodox icon, an important spiritual object for Orthodox believers.

The life of Athanasius the Great

The exact date of Saint Athanasius’s birth is unknown. However, it is generally accepted that he was born between 296 and 298. While still a deacon, Athanasius the Great took part in the First Ecumenical Council. He adamantly upheld the doctrine of the hypostatic identity of Jesus Christ and spoke out against the Arians and their ideas.

In 326, the saint was appointed bishop of Alexandria. A few years later, however, his active struggle against his enemies caused Athanasius the Great to go into exile and persecution. He returned to his congregation only at the end of his life.

Numerous writings of Saint Athanasius are highly valued by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Athanasius the Great is commemorated on May 2 (May 15). 

A Greek Orthodox icon of Athanasius the Great

The Greek Orthodox icon you can see in this blog post depicts Athanasius the Great as a gray-haired elder. His beard is of medium length and divided into several strands. The robes in which Athanasius the Great appears in Greek icons are the traditional vestments of the bishop – phelonion and omophorion. In his one hand, he holds the Gospel or a scroll (an attribute of a preacher of God’s word), and blesses all the faithful with the other. Sometimes, Athanasius the Great is depicted wearing a miter.

The Greek Orthodox icon of Saint Athanasius, as well as other icons with his image, is believed to help those who want to strengthen their faith and find the way to the truth. The teachings of Athanasius the Great demonstrate that despite the disapproval and malice of the majority, a person who carries faith within can overcome all challenges and hardships. It is no wonder that religious icons of Athanasius the Great are so popular in the Orthodox world.

Do not miss our new blog posts to learn about other saints and their icons!