The Meaning of Greek Orthodox Icons

The Meaning of Greek Orthodox Icons

Icons are an integral part of the Orthodox Church. Not only do people visit holy places to pray in front of the icons, but they also marvel at them and their uniqueness. Concerning Greek icons, they have a special place in the history of religious icon art. It is not surprising because Greece is a real treasure trove of icons. To understand why each icon is unique, read on and find out the meaning of Greek Orthodox icons.

What is an icon?

The word icon comes from Greek and refers to an image, resemblance. For the most part, icons depict Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and holy angels. Besides, they depict events from various sources concerning Christianity, such as the Bible, Gospels, the lives of saints, and other sacred texts. It is also worth noting that Greek Orthodox icons are not symbolical; each represents a particular teaching of the church.

The influence of history on iconography

In the middle of the 2nd century BC, Greece was under the rule of the Roman Empire. The consequence of this situation was the disintegration of the Empire into western and eastern parts. The eastern part included Byzantium and Greece, which were shortly conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Religion was greatly affected by aggressive and vengeful Turks. In the most brutal and cruel manner, they destroyed not only people’s properties but also icons. It was the reason why the majority of icon painters were forced to flee to the island of Crete. These events made a great impact on Greek Orthodox icons and iconography overall, which resulted in more sad images of the holy figures.

The purpose of Greek Orthodox icons

The abovementioned historical events are the reason why Greek icons are similar to Byzantine icons. Greek icons focus on intangible things and spiritual values. They depict deep sorrow and provoke heartbreaking emotions. To cause such effects, icon painters depict elusive facial features. Besides, Orthodox icons are considered to be miraculous. Each of them has its purpose and meaning. For example, the icon of the Mother of God Panagia Portaitissa helps people expiate a sin, find a way to move on, and stay on the righteous path. It gives home protection and banishes evil spirits. In addition to this, many people claim that this icon helped them get cured and find family happiness.

As you can see, icons are important for the Orthodox Church and Christian believers. They involve not only spirituality but also healing powers.