Category Archives: Iconography

Why does John the Baptist have wings in Orthodox icons?

August 29th is the day that commemorates the Beheading of John the Baptist. Why is this Saint, almost uniquely, shown in many icons with wings? Advertisements

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All Saints Icon | The Great Cloud of Witnesses

After Pentecost, remembering the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Church celebrates the Sunday of All Saints. This is fitting, as the Saints are the result of the Holy Spirit being given to the Apostles, the fruits of that “grain … Continue reading

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The Holy Spirit as a dove in iconography

A previous post on the Throne of Preparation showed the widespread (in time and location) practice of depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove. The Holy Spirit did descend “as a dove” at the Baptism of Christ, and so naturally … Continue reading

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Hetoimasia | The Throne of Preparation

The Hetoimasia (Gr. ἑτοιμασία, “preparation”), or Throne of Preparation, is one of the most widespread images in iconography, particularly in Orthodox Christianity. It very rarely dominates any composition it is part of, so the image and its significance can be … Continue reading

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Why do the Saints never smile in icons?

There are over 400 occurrences of the word “joy” in the Bible, most of them referring to what awaits those who become close to God. So why do icons – portraits of people who have been received by Christ into … Continue reading

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An icon for Whitsun | Pentecost Mosaic of San Marco

The image above is of the interior of a dome at the 9th-century St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. The mosaic of gold, bronze and other precious materials dates from the 12th century and depicts the descent of the Holy Spirit … Continue reading

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The Epitaphios | Burial of Christ Icon

The Epitaphios (Gr. Επιτάφιος) is a large icon, usually embroidered, that depicts the burial of Christ. The name, epitaphios, literally means “winding-sheet”, and is used in services of Holy (Good) Friday and Holy Saturday to re-present the burial and funeral … Continue reading

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