June 1, 2010

Orthodoxy Cannot Be Separated From Its Icons

by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The veneration of icons is an integral part of Orthodoxy from which it cannot be separated. That the veneration of icons appears to some people the same as idolatry is no proof against icons. To the Jews it seemed that Christ worked miracles by the power of Satan and not God, and to the Romans it seemed that Christian martyrs were ordinary sorcerers and magicians.

Saint Nicephorus said to Leo the Armenian the iconoclastic emperor: "The icon is a divine thing and not to be worshipped." Following this, he explained "how God commanded Moses to make a serpent of brass and to raise it in the wilderness even though, just before this, He had commanded: 'Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image' (Exodus 20:4). He commanded this in order to save the chosen people from the idolatry of the Egyptians and He commanded that He, the One and Most High God, would manifest His power through a visible thing. In the same manner He manifests His power through icons. That is His holy will and our aid for salvation.

If icons are things of little significance or even idolatry, why would many of the holiest and most spiritual men and women in the history of the Church have suffered to the death for icons?