Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Because I was in Lichfield last week, I missed the opening of an Icon Exhibition in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, after Choral Evensong on Thursday evening [25 June 2015].
This new exhibition of icons will remain in Christ Church Cathedral for three months until Thursday 24 September.
The exhibitors include Adrienne Lord, Philip Brennan, Maureen Quinn and Patrick McMacken, a tutor at St Luke’s Icon Studio.
The word icon is much misused today. Apart from its use in computers and technology – where an icon can be a pictogram used in a graphical user interface, or a high-level programming language – how often do I hear of someone being described as a “style icon,” a “movie icon” or even a “political icon”?
The Apostle Paul uses the word icon when he describes Christ as the “image of the invisible God” in Colossians 1: 15: ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, or “he is the image [or the icon] of the invisible God.” In this sense, Christ himself is an icon.
As people are also made in God’s images, we can also be considered to be living icons.
Saint John of Damascus dismissed anyone who seeks to destroy icons as “the enemy of Christ, the Holy Mother of God and the saints, and is the defender of the Devil and his demons.” This is because the theology is part and parcel of the incarnational theology of the humanity and divinity of Christ, so that attacks on icons have the effect of undermining or attacking the Incarnation of Christ himself as taught by the Ecumenical Councils.
Among the Cappadocian Fathers, Saint Basil of Caesarea, in his On the Holy Spirit, writes: “The honour paid to the image passes to the prototype.”
In Eastern Orthodox practice, to kiss an icon of Christ, for example, is to show love towards Christ himself, not the mere wood and paint that have gone into making or writing the icon.
On Sunday afternoon, it was good to see these icons exhibited in a church setting, and not as mere works of art. The icons are on display in the south ambulatory and the exhibition is open each day.
Drop in to Christ Church Cathedral to see them between now and 24 September.