Author Topic: Question about Icons  (Read 1143 times)

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Offline NewOrtho

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Question about Icons
« on: March 03, 2009, 03:49:48 PM »
When one obtains a new icon, typically it is left on the altar for a certain period of time.  What is the purpose of this?  Is it simply to bless them?  I am trying to understand the differences between Orthodox use of icons and Catholic use of statues, and this seems to be an interesting practice.  What is the difference between using an icon that hasn't been blessed and one that has? 

Offline Thomas

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Re: Question about Icons
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2009, 03:55:48 PM »
It was explained to me that you could do it one of two ways:
1.  Place it on the altar so it may be sanctified by the prayers and liturgies served at the altar and then sprinkled with holy water and blessed to be returned to the owner. The time is usually 40 days.

2. Just have it blessed by a prayer that is in the Priest's handbook and spinkled with Holy water and given back to the owner.

Many people who have Icons that are prints and not handwritten will opt for the first method as a way to help sanctify the icon as well as getting it blessed.  Hand written (painted) icons if painted in the traditional manner will have hundreds of jesus prayers  sanctifying it as the traditional iconographer will say a Jesus Prayer with every touch of the brush to the icon as he paints it. In this case his prayers will have started the sanctification of the icon, an additional 40 days could not hurt but all that is really needed is the prayer and the blessing of the icon for it to be used.

If at all possible one should have new icons blessed prior to use in mediation and prayer.

« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 03:57:19 PM by Thomas »
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Offline NewOrtho

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Re: Question about Icons
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2009, 04:09:13 PM »
thanks for the reply.  I think my main question is, what does this sanctification "do"?  For example, the Hindu "prana pratistha" ritual "infuses" a statue/picture/whatever with the energies of whatever god they desire.  How does this relate to the sanctification of icons?  I know it isn't exactly like what Hindus believe, but I'm just curious as to why icons are blessed/what the traditional icon writing processes do in contrast to just a regular print icon.  Maybe this is just my old Catholic self wanting to know "why" things are, instead of accepting that we can't explain everything. ;)

Offline J.M.C

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    • A Reader's Guide to Orthodox Icons
Re: Question about Icons
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2011, 12:34:26 PM »

A bit late in replying, but just in case NewOrtho is subscribed to this thread:

Of course we believe that the prayers of the faithful are effective and so by having the Icon on the altar for 40 days the Icon is cleansed and blessed for veneration.


... a more mundane reason for this practice is that when a new Icon is painted, giving it to a priest to be blessed means a member of the clergy gets to have a good look at it and check that it is canonical. This all depends on the priest recognizing what is an "Orthodox" icon and what isn't, so it isn't infallible, but it is an extra check put in place to weed out unorthodox images from Church use.

I think this is the overriding reason for the practice, rather than any belief that an icon is not good for veneration until it is blessed.