The Martyr Charalambos of Magnesia

Categories of Saints Depicted in Holy Icons

Icon of St. John the Baptist, icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh, icon of Sts. Cosmas and Damian of Asia, St. Nicholas icon – there are so many holy icons of saints that people who are not familiar with Orthodox Christianity often get confused between them. It does not mean that you should learn all the saints depicted in Orthodox icons. However, if you want to know more about such a beautiful manifestation of art and religion coming together, it is important to learn, at least, the main categories of those whom we call saints.

First of all, it should be stated that the only true “saint” is God Himself. Men and women become “sainted” by only participation in the holiness of God. So the question is, who exactly can be called a saint? In general, there are 6 major categories of such people:

  • The Apostles, who were the first historical disciples of Jesus Christ and also the first to call the world to repentance and faith in the risen God. For example, such Orthodox icons of saints include the icon of St. John the Beloved Disciple and the icon of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
  • The Prophets, who prophesied and predicted the coming of the Savior. For example, such icons include the icon of the Holy Prophet David and the Orthodox icon of St. Moses the Prophet.
  • The Monastics, who dedicated themselves to reaching perfection in Christ by living an ascetic life in the desert. For example, these include the icon of St. Anthony the Great and the icon of St. John Cassian.
  • The Hierarchs and Fathers of the Church, who dedicated their lives to defending and explaining the Christian faith by word and deed. For example, such icons of saints include the icon of St. Basil the Great and the icon of St. John Chrysostom.
  • The Just, who led exemplary and virtuous lives, becoming examples for imitation. For example, these Orthodox icons include the icon of the Righteous Joseph the Hesychast and the icon of the Righteous Joachim and Anna.

These are the major categories of people whom we call saints. If you want to learn more, browse our online gallery, and you will find many holy icons of saints with detailed descriptions.