Author Topic: icons of guardian angels  (Read 2165 times)

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Offline scamandrius

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icons of guardian angels
« on: December 16, 2007, 11:29:56 PM »
I help manage the bookstore at my parish and a parishioner wanted to procure a guardian angel icon.  She didn't like any of the ones I had so we looked at some catalogues.  She was asking me about how the guardian angels are represented and confessed my ignorance of the subject, but it got me thinking.  This is the guardian angel I have as part of my iconostasis at home



My question.  I've heard, from probably unreliable sources, that the guardian angels are depicted neither distinctly male nor female but have a more androgynous quality to them.  To me (and I'm no great discerner when it comes to art), this particular icon seems to demonstrate that idea, but I've seen other icons where the angels definitely look quite masculine in appearance.  Does anyone have any insight as to this?  I'd especially like to hear from any icon writers we have here at OC.net.  Thanks.
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Offline Simayan

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Re: icons of guardian angels
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2007, 05:49:52 PM »
From what I've heard from my priest, angels don't have genders.

However, I think they are depicted in a neutral sense because one does not know what their guardian angel looks like, so one icon has to fit for everyone.


But that's from a non-seminarian whose still in high school. Maybe someone else can give a better explanation.



« Last Edit: December 19, 2007, 05:51:09 PM by Simayan »
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: icons of guardian angels
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2007, 11:08:58 PM »
From what I've heard from my priest, angels don't have genders.

However, I think they are depicted in a neutral sense because one does not know what their guardian angel looks like, so one icon has to fit for everyone.


But that's from a non-seminarian whose still in high school. Maybe someone else can give a better explanation. 

Those are pretty plausible explanations.  It's not like we all cover how to depict an angel in iconography in seminary - those schools that offer iconography classes do so as electives.  But your arguments make sense and are consistent with Orthodox understanding of the Angels.
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Offline JoeS

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Re: icons of guardian angels
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2007, 05:19:39 PM »
Those are pretty plausible explanations.  It's not like we all cover how to depict an angel in iconography in seminary - those schools that offer iconography classes do so as electives.  But your arguments make sense and are consistent with Orthodox understanding of the Angels.

God Manifested the two angels as Men who went into Sodom and were guests of Lot.  Angels "Battling" the Demons, a male trait at least it is our human instincts to apply male traits to this action.  Archangel Michael appearing to Mary at the Incarnation.  These and other sources give one the impression that the angels are malish is not male.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: icons of guardian angels
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 09:24:43 AM »
God Manifested the two angels as Men who went into Sodom and were guests of Lot.

Chalk one up for social norms; women wouldn't have been traveling much in those days, and these two angels were travelers.  Anyway, they had to be male in order to adequately test the populace of Sodom.

Angels "Battling" the Demons, a male trait at least it is our human instincts to apply male traits to this action. 

Eh, applying human emotion and traits to the bodiless powers who existed before we did seems a bit odd.

Archangel Michael appearing to Mary at the Incarnation. 

It was Gabriel at the Incarnation.  Ind IIRC there is no indication of gender in the text.

These and other sources give one the impression that the angels are malish is not male.

Well, there are sources that give the impression that God the Father is malish, but that doesn't actually make Him "malish" or male.

I'm not out to pick on you or anyone else, but the bodiless powers have no gender because they need no gender.  Portraying someone as "gender-neutral" will always look more male-like than female-like because of the absence of certain female external characteristics.  But they really aren't depicted as "male like" with a chiseled jaw, or bearded, etc.
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline JoeS

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Re: icons of guardian angels
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2008, 03:44:47 PM »
Chalk one up for social norms; women wouldn't have been traveling much in those days, and these two angels were travelers.  Anyway, they had to be male in order to adequately test the populace of Sodom.

Eh, applying human emotion and traits to the bodiless powers who existed before we did seems a bit odd.

It was Gabriel at the Incarnation.  Ind IIRC there is no indication of gender in the text.

Well, there are sources that give the impression that God the Father is malish, but that doesn't actually make Him "malish" or male.

I'm not out to pick on you or anyone else, but the bodiless powers have no gender because they need no gender.  Portraying someone as "gender-neutral" will always look more male-like than female-like because of the absence of certain female external characteristics.  But they really aren't depicted as "male like" with a chiseled jaw, or bearded, etc.

I stand corrected, it was Gabriel not Michael.

Well, only having two genders to choose from on this earth, God chose to manifest the angels as malish because of their standing in the world at that time. I wonder in what gender He would have manifested angels in todays situations?

 

Offline Fr. George

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Re: icons of guardian angels
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2008, 04:08:19 PM »
I wonder in what gender He would have manifested angels in todays situations? 

The world may never know.  But it's a great question!
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Offline Ebor

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Re: icons of guardian angels
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2008, 04:26:28 PM »
Maybe it would depend on the human being being addressed since one might think that God would know how to best reach her/him

Ebor
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