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Author Topic: Western rite Icons  (Read 40735 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 05, 2008, 01:22:40 AM »

I have just been looking around at some of the posts on the western rite and I have got a question.
Do western rite parishes use Icons or statues and if Icons are they different looking then the ones in the eastern rites?

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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2008, 09:28:33 AM »

The ones I've seen do use regular Byzantine icons.  Many also use statues.  Their icons tend to be smaller and not play as big a role in the overall appearance of the church.
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2008, 05:54:22 PM »

The ones I've seen do use regular Byzantine icons.  Many also use statues.  Their icons tend to be smaller and not play as big a role in the overall appearance of the church.

The Feast!

Funny story I heard about that (if I remember it correctly). There was once a priest who was fond of keeping statues in the church, and would hide them whenever the Bishop came.  And one day the elder had come to the church, and the priest went and moved out the statues as was his habit.  The elder said nothing as the service went on, and when it was over, mentioned politely to the priest how there was still a statue that had been forgotten (in fact it was a statue hidden off in a corner which no one could see).
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2008, 07:56:16 PM »

The Feast!

Funny story I heard about that (if I remember it correctly). There was once a priest who was fond of keeping statues in the church, and would hide them whenever the Bishop came.  And one day the elder had come to the church, and the priest went and hid the statues as was his habit.  The elder said nothing as the service went on, and when it was over, mentioned politely to the priest how there was still a statue that had been forgotten (in fact it was a statue hidden off in a corner which no one could see).
Cheesy Thats a funny one.

So if he was hiding the statues are they not allowed in the western rite but are used anyway?
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2008, 08:03:40 PM »

Cheesy Thats a funny one.

So if he was hiding the statues are they not allowed in the western rite but are used anyway?

That's the practice of our Synod, anyway; it was what was originally suggested by Overbeck, and done since as per the Russian Synod's approval of his suggestion (see Abramtsov, a Brief History of Western Orthodoxy).

There were in fact statues in the early tradition of the Church, but they were pretty rare all around.
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2008, 10:14:09 PM »

That's the practice of our Synod, anyway; it was what was originally suggested by Overbeck, and done since as per the Russian Synod's approval of his suggestion (see Abramtsov, a Brief History of Western Orthodoxy).

There were in fact statues in the early tradition of the Church, but they were pretty rare all around.

Exactly Suaiden. Try and tell that to a zealous anti-Roman Catholic convert and they will be dumbfounded. There is a statue of the Theotokos somewhere in Greece (I think) I believe that is constantly guarded.
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2008, 10:22:15 PM »

Exactly Suaiden. Try and tell that to a zealous anti-Roman Catholic convert and they will be dumbfounded. There is a statue of the Theotokos somewhere in Greece (I think) I believe that is constantly guarded.

There is another like that in Russia.

But I think I've been misunderstood. I meant that the policy of our Synod is that there are no statues in our churches. However, there have been occasional statues used in the Church; however, they shouldn't be used now. Overbeck's policy was to remove all the statues and replace them with icons.
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2008, 10:31:35 PM »

There is another like that in Russia.

But I think I've been misunderstood. I meant that the policy of our Synod is that there are no statues in our churches. However, there have been occasional statues used in the Church; however, they shouldn't be used now. Overbeck's policy was to remove all the statues and replace them with icons.

Ok fair enough. What was the exact reason for Overbecks policy?
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2008, 01:11:31 PM »

Ok fair enough. What was the exact reason for Overbecks policy?

I'm afraid I don't know exactly.  Asking him and expecting a speedy response would be problematic.  However, the Russian Synod accepted his recommendations wholesale because the use of icons is *fully sanctioned within the tradition of the Orthodox Church*.
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2008, 02:23:19 PM »

Quote from: St. Columba Orthodox Church
The Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Archdiocese has determined that the appropriate form of iconography for Western Rite Churches is the Romanesque Art of the Medieval Western Church.
http://www.stcolumbachurch.org/icon_details.html
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2008, 02:53:05 PM »

Unfortunately certain Antiochan WR parishes allow statues, not only for ornamental use but also for veneration and even used in processions.
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2008, 03:00:00 PM »

The Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Archdiocese has determined that the appropriate form of iconography for Western Rite Churches is the Romanesque Art of the Medieval Western Church.
http://www.stcolumbachurch.org/icon_details.html


Note statues. St Augustine Church, Denver, Colorado.


Our Lady of Walsingham Chapel with Statue. St Mark's Church Denver.


From the Photo Album of St Michael Antiochian Church, Whittier, CA.  Note in Picture #5 there is also a statue behind the celebrants.

While I have no photo, one parish in Miami (I've seen with my eyes) also has statues.  Others do too.

So I am not quite sure what to think of the AWRV's pronouncement, if they are being honest, or maybe they just think statues are part of Romanesque iconography.
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2008, 03:13:59 PM »

Unfortunately certain Antiochan WR parishes allow statues,
So do the Eastern Orthodox: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13045.msg179106.html#msg179106
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2008, 03:24:57 PM »


Yes, and they are very ancient, and rare. Some, as that one appears to be, were originally bas-relief, that is, attached to a wall, and survived a demolition, et cetera. However, I would probably guess that there are more statues in Churches in the AWRV than there are in Churches in all the Balkans.

I should also be clear and ask you to take a look at those statues in the pictures. They look nothing like that Mary statue, because they are simply basic post-renaissance statues as exist in Roman Catholicism.  So I'll make a deal.  Make exact copies of that ancient Mary statue and dump the Our Lady of Lourdes you've got going in picture #3 and I'll stop complaining.  Better still, let us retain the few examples we have of centuries past of unique statues, and follow the Orthodox Church's practice for centuries.  Or do we now believe that in fact there were statues all over Serbian Churches in the 14th century as well?
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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2008, 03:30:57 PM »

I didnt resent statues for minor ornamental use but for their veneration and liturgical use. I was originally told about 10 years ago that statues were only ornamental in the AWR but during that time the official website of Antioch posted photos of a procession using a Marian statue. An article in the ''Lion' newsletter argied that statues are equal to icons in everyway and thus can be venerated. This is heresy. 
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2008, 03:32:31 PM »

dump the Our Lady of Lourdes you've got going in picture #3
That's not Our Lady of Lourdes. It's a Hodegetria.
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2008, 04:19:48 PM »

That's not Our Lady of Lourdes. It's a Hodegetria.

That is NOT a Hodegetria.


A Hodegetria guides the viewer to Christ with the right hand. She is in fact holding Christ in the statue.



A Statue of the Hodegetria can be found here:


But you are right about one thing. That statue at St Michael is not Our Lady of Lourdes. Looks like a typical Roman Catholic Mary statue without a crown actually.
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2008, 04:30:37 PM »

A Hodegetria guides the viewer to Christ with the right hand. She is in fact holding Christ in the statue.
You obviously haven't heard of the Hodegetria Dexiokratousa.
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2008, 04:34:31 PM »

You obviously haven't heard of the Hodegetria Dexiokratousa.

Did they delete her hand or something I am not aware of?

The image is here:


It still appears like she's holding Christ with the left hand and guiding to Him with the right.

Meanwhile, your statue has Mary holding Christ with both hands, since he seems to be either proclaiming or wobbling (gotta love that humanism!)
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« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2008, 04:35:58 PM »

It still appears like she's holding Christ with the left hand and guiding to Him with the right.

"They have eyes and see not."

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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2008, 04:37:28 PM »

It still appears like she's holding Christ with the left hand and guiding to Him with the right.
How to tell your left hand from your right:

1) Hold your hands up in front of you, with the palms facing away from you.
2) Hold up only the index finger and thumb of each hand.
3) The one that makes an "L" is your left hand; the other one is the right.
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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2008, 04:40:04 PM »

"They have eyes and see not."

True. But I'd rather not know my right from my left than not know the difference between an Orthodox icon and a Roman Catholic statue.

So which hand is Mary using to motion to Christ in this picture, as opposed to HOLDING Him with both hands??



P.S. Left and right have failed me, but I still understand types, and don't throw them around randomly.
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2008, 04:45:12 PM »

So which hand is Mary using to motion to Christ in this picture, as opposed to HOLDING Him with both hands??
Her left.
"Do whatever He tells you."
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« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2008, 04:47:52 PM »

Her left.
"Do whatever He tells you."

I guess we will have to agree to disagree, because a cursory search of Jesus and Mary statues would show that your statue, like a typical Roman Catholic statue, simply has her placing her hand over his stomach. She is not pointing, as her hand is pressed against that stomach, unless she is doing it with the top fingers, which still destroys the type; for example this one she holds Him with both hands, but I guess it could be her right hand (or is it her left?) pointing.



But you can imagine she's pointing if you wish, and imagine it with whichever hand you choose.

Let the viewer decide.

By the way, is Santa Claus wearing his own type on this little pic from the same site?

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« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2008, 04:56:24 PM »

I guess we will have to agree to disagree,
Well, we've managed to agree on a few things:
1) You accepted that this is not Our Lady of Lourdes.
2) You accepted that Hodegetria Dexiokratousa is holding Christ in her right arm.
3) You accepted that there are 3 dimensional Icons in Eastern Orthodoxy.
So it's good we had this talk.
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« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2008, 05:02:49 PM »

Well, we've managed to agree on a few things:
1) You accepted that this is not Our Lady of Lourdes.
2) You accepted that Hodegetria Dexiokratousa is holding Christ in her right arm.
3) You accepted that there are 3 dimensional Icons in Eastern Orthodoxy.
So it's good we had this talk.

I agree. 

I'd still like to deal with the fact that in the presence of an actual Hodegetria statue, this statue is not a Hodegetria at all.  I'd also like to deal with the fact that none of the statues I am pointing to would I consider "three-dimensional icons.

But I'm glad we cleared this up, even though I don't feel at all well knowing there are a bunch of Roman-style statues in these Antiochian Western-Rite churches of yours.
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« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2008, 05:55:17 PM »

I don't feel at all well knowing there are a bunch of Roman-style statues in these Antiochian Western-Rite churches of yours.
Well, I think that's pretty clear. Cheesy
Here are my thoughts:
As far as I know, there are no particular Canons against the use of statues for veneration in the Orthodox Church. We've just not had much of a liking for them. But we do have carved Icons in the Orthodox Church, so it's not the fact that an image is three dimensional that seems to be the problem, as the Wonderworking Icon of St. Michael Taxiarches clearly shows:


as well as the statuette of the Hodegetria from Constantinople which you posted (which, btw, is now in the Met if anyone wants to see it in real life):


Nor can we say that the reason to reject statues is because they are not stylized or surreal enough, because we venerate icons which are neither stylized nor surreal such as this Icon of St. George:


So, if as buzuxi claims, venerating statues is "heresy", I'd like to know why it is "heresy". As far as I can see, its just something the Eastern Orthodox haven't practiced a lot of and aren't used to. But why would it be "heresy"?
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« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2008, 06:00:12 PM »

The Orthodox statues do not depict suffering of Christ compared to the 14 Stations of the Cross where each Station depicts Christ's suffering in 3D.

The image of St. Michael and Hodegetria are harmless in that their depictions in 3D have no deviation from their 2D depiction.
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« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2008, 06:17:33 PM »

The Orthodox statues do not depict suffering of Christ compared to the 14 Stations of the Cross where each Station depicts Christ's suffering in 3D.
Yes, but the question is about statues in general, not specific statues. I certainly would say that the Statue of Our Lady of Grace is heretical because it is based on the Vulgate rather than the Septuagint and has the Virgin (rather than Christ) trampling the serpent. So yes, I think there are heretical statues, but then, there are ancient Icons which would now be considered heretical (for example, those which depict Christ as a Lamb). We can't say from this that Icons in general are heretical.

The image of St. Michael and Hodegetria are harmless in that their depictions in 3D have no deviation from their 2D depiction.
Well, actually, they do deviate. In a traditional "Byzantine" Icon, the light source is the Hypostasis depicted. Thus, Christ's or the Saint's clothing is lightest where it is in closest contact to their body, and they do not cast shadows in order to create the effect that they themselves are the source of light in the image rather than an external source of light shining on them. In a carved or sculpted Icon, the light source is exterior to the Hypostasis depicted and it casts shadows.
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« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2008, 07:05:20 PM »

Yes, but the question is about statues in general, not specific statues.

But we are talking about specific statues, and not the bas-relief (Bas-relief IS allowed in the Orthodox Church) images of St Michael or the statue of Mary in question.  We are talking about the Roman Catholic statues in the AWRV.  Including the stations, which were defended by members of the AWRV.

I certainly would say that the Statue of Our Lady of Grace is heretical because it is based on the Vulgate rather than the Septuagint and has the Virgin (rather than Christ) trampling the serpent.

The Vulgate is a legitimate Western Orthodox Bible. It was translated by St Jerome.  I am utterly dumbfounded.  When we are discussion an innovation in the West and introducing it into Western Rite Orthodoxy, I am in awe that probably one of the best-preserved texts of the Orthodox West is tossed aside like that. I'd say that's the least heretical thing about the statue. The Vulgate is not heretical.  Even most of its differences with the Septuagint are consonant.

What's wrong is that it's a free standing statue of some woman dressed as Mary in a very medieval-looking outfit without Christ stepping on a snake.  Strangely enough, the statue in that AWRV parish seems to be wearing similar vestments.

So yes, I think there are heretical statues, but then, there are ancient Icons which would now be considered heretical (for example, those which depict Christ as a Lamb). We can't say from this that Icons in general are heretical.


Fair enough. So you'd agree to scrapping all the Roman Catholic statues with bas-relief images in their place?

Well, actually, they do deviate. In a traditional "Byzantine" Icon, the light source is the Hypostasis depicted. Thus, Christ's or the Saint's clothing is lightest where it is in closest contact to their body, and they do not cast shadows in order to create the effect that they themselves are the source of light in the image rather than an external source of light shining on them. In a carved or sculpted Icon, the light source is exterior to the Hypostasis depicted and it casts shadows.

Or, to make it even shorter, the icon is different because it has colors on it!  That is a very poor comparison.  The linear structure is still the same, and with these modern statues it is most certainly not.
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« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2008, 10:11:29 PM »

But we are talking about specific statues, and not the bas-relief (Bas-relief IS allowed in the Orthodox Church) images of St Michael or the statue of Mary in question. 
The Virgin of Sokolica Venerated in Kosovo is not a bas relief.  It is a self standing statue. Here is a side view:
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« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2008, 10:27:58 PM »

The Virgin of Sokolica Venerated in Kosovo is not a bas relief.  It is a self standing statue. Here is a side view:


Your side view should have been taken from the other side.



Clearly one could make the argument that it is not a freestanding statue.  Apparently some of the backing is missing, and it could well have been attached to a wall. Considering its history, it might have been part of an earlier monastery's wall.
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« Reply #32 on: June 07, 2008, 10:45:51 PM »

And one more minor detail to prove my point.   Shocked

We've all been ogling this here "statue" for a while, as though it is a statue. My mistake. I thought it was a statue till I considered it might be bas-relief.

It wasn't until ozgeorge assumed that the Sokolica "statue" could not be bas-relief till I checked on this one too....



This "statue" is not a statue at all.  In fact, it was a layer on an ivory panel matrix used as a statuette and reliquary.  The Met's description actually says the same: "Over time, some ivory icons experienced wear and tear, subsequently leading to their reconfiguration. Because Byzantine ivory carvers cut deeply into the panels to create images in high relief, the background area is thin and prone to breakage. In the case of the icon illustrated here, the image was excised from the panel to create a statuette; part of the original background can still be seen in the area between the head of Christ and his mother's left shoulder. This object served a double function: an indentation on the back indicates that it was also used as a reliquary. It is not certain whether it served this purpose from the time it was carved or only after it was detached from its ivory matrix."

And if one wants to argue the fact of what the Met caretakers are saying, allow a moment to digest the dimensions of the "statue": Ivory; 9 3/16 x 2 3/4 x 1/2 in. (23.4 x 7 x 1.3 cm)

All right here.
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« Reply #33 on: June 07, 2008, 10:48:01 PM »

Apparently some of the backing is missing, and it could well have been attached to a wall.
That's the back of the throne she's sitting on. It's a Pantanassa.

What about this medieval statue of St. Nicholas of Mozhaisk?:
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« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2008, 10:52:33 PM »

That's the back of the throne she's sitting on. It's a Pantanassa.
Could have been carved into a wall panel....

What about this medieval statue of St. Nicholas of Mozhaisk?:


He's still flat....

EDIT: I believe it also said somewhere that this was from the Patriarchal Palace.  I never said Orthodox never made statues. Just a question of whether they used them in Church....
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« Reply #35 on: June 07, 2008, 10:59:31 PM »

He's still flat....
Well, he's doing a good job of holding up a three dimensional Church then. Wink
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« Reply #36 on: June 07, 2008, 11:01:45 PM »

Well, he's doing a good job of holding up a three dimensional Church then. Wink
And his shoes don't look too flat to me. It looks like he's standing on them. Wink
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« Reply #37 on: June 07, 2008, 11:07:09 PM »

Well, he's doing a good job of holding up a three dimensional Church then. Wink

Well, I'll gladly admit the arms extend.  The Church does look 3D.  The problem is the rest of him doesn't. What we DON'T find is this!



And his shoes don't look too flat to me. It looks like he's standing on them. Wink

It looks like he's also in a glass case supported (and probably attached to) a wall, something not commonly done for freestanding items for observation.
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« Reply #38 on: June 07, 2008, 11:18:41 PM »

Well, I'll gladly admit the arms extend.  The Church does look 3D.  The problem is the rest of him doesn't.
I'd argue that it does. There is clearly a space between the front and back of his chasuble through which his obviously 3D arms extend.

What we DON'T find is this!

Well, yes, because that is a Western Orthodox statue in the Western style and St. Nicholas of of Mozhaisk is an Eastern Orthodox statue in the Eastern style. Just like the Celtic Cross is a Western style Cross and the Three Bar Cross is a Russian style Cross and the Greek Cross is a Greek style Cross.
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« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2008, 11:22:10 PM »

I never said Orthodox never made statues. Just a question of whether they used them in Church....

The Virgin of Sokolica is publicly venerated and is a pilgrim shrine, especially for couples having difficulty conceiving.
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« Reply #40 on: June 07, 2008, 11:32:40 PM »

Interesting pictures. Thank you for posting.
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« Reply #41 on: June 07, 2008, 11:46:25 PM »

I've also been perplexed at the idea that 3D venerations are "heretical."  I've always seen icons and statues as culturally diverse, not dogmatically divisive.
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« Reply #42 on: June 07, 2008, 11:47:41 PM »

The statue in question is in fact a type of Hodegetria-- but derived from a Western, more primitive strain than the highly conventionalized Eastern version. Take a look at the Salus Populi Romani:



The madonna of the Book of Kells is of the same type, as are the various maestri (the latter form elaborates the image by surrounding the seated virgin with angels). It just comes down to the the fact that in the West, the virgin tend to hold on to the Child with both hands, and that in medieval and later art the virgin tends to stand up. There's a late type in which she holds the Child up under His armpits, thus heading in the direction of the Virgin of the Sign.

The virgin of Lourdes is not holding the Child, btw.

Rant all you want about statuary.
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« Reply #43 on: June 07, 2008, 11:51:00 PM »

I'd argue that it does. There is clearly a space between the front and back of his chasuble through which his obviously 3D arms extend.

This is going to end up as an "agree to disagree" till I see the statue in question physically.

Well, yes, because that is a Western Orthodox statue in the Western style and St. Nicholas of of Mozhaisk is an Eastern Orthodox statue in the Eastern style. Just like the Celtic Cross is a Western style Cross and the Three Bar Cross is a Russian style Cross and the Greek Cross is a Greek style Cross.

And with that, I totally give up.  That is NOT a "Western Orthodox statue". It is a typical statue found in Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, never having been found in a Western Orthodox Church before the schism.  Where it was found (before the statue joined the Vicariate, of course) was in Roman and Anglican Churches, the former which I had seen throughout my childhood.

You can call it an apple all day long, but it's still an orange, or in this case, a post-schism Western statue.  But I will never convince you.  And you-- because of my having grown from a typical visual childhood in Roman Catholicism (we *owned* a statue like that in my house) until I converted to Orthodoxy in my 20's-- will never convince me that the statue in that pic is anything but a typical Roman or Anglican statue, of recent style.
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« Reply #44 on: June 08, 2008, 12:22:27 AM »

never having been found in a Western Orthodox Church before the schism. 
Well, it's found in a Western Orthodox Church now.

Where it was found (before the statue joined the Vicariate, of course) was in Roman and Anglican Churches, the former which I had seen throughout my childhood.
I know.

You can call it an apple all day long, but it's still an orange, or in this case, a post-schism Western statue.
I know.

But I will never convince you.
There's no need to. I know where it has come from.

And you-- because of my having grown from a typical visual childhood in Roman Catholicism (we *owned* a statue like that in my house) until I converted to Orthodoxy in my 20's-- will never convince me that the statue in that pic is anything but a typical Roman or Anglican statue, of recent style.
There's no need to. I know where it has come from.

You are rejecting such statues because you associate them with the Roman Catholicism of your childhood. But you cannot say that Statues in general are "uncanonical" or "heretical" in the Orthodox Church, because we have statues, and we venerate them. Yes, they look different to post-schism Western statues, but they are still statues, so venerating statues is not "heretical" in itself.

Do you know where churchbells come from in the Orthodox Church? They come from the post-schism Western Medieval Church. Originally, the Orthodox Church only had the talanton and symantron, both of which must be manually struck with a hammer according to tradition. Should churchbells be rejected because they came from the post-schism West? Or, has the Orthodox Church adopted this post-schism Western invention and sanctified it?

If we cannot reject church bells simply because they came from the post-schism West, on what basis do we reject Western icongography and statues which do not depict heresy? And just as we adopted and sanctified western Church bells, why can't we adopt and sanctify Western iconography?
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