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Author Topic: The Western Rite and Icons vs. Statues.  (Read 1503 times) Average Rating: 0
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jwinch2
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« on: February 09, 2013, 12:41:05 PM »

In Catholicism, particularly the Roman Rite, it is the norm to see statues in Church buildings rather than icons.  The vast majority of parishes have a statue of St. Joseph on one side and St. Mary on the other side, though some parishes do differ in what statues they have, and where they keep them.  In Eastern Catholicism I have always seen icons rather than statues per the Tradition of Eastern Christianity.  Since Eastern Catholics follow the Eastern Tradition, this leads me to wonder if Western Orthodox follow the Western Tradition.  Having never set foot in a Western Orthodox church building, I cannot speak from experience on this.  The few pictures I have seen suggest that there are icons present.  But, it is hard to tell if there are also statues or if icons are present in all Western Rite parishes. 

Thoughts appreciated.


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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2013, 01:08:18 PM »

I think it's not an either-or situation. Depending on the parish, they might have both, but wouldn't venerate statues in the way icons are.
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2013, 01:21:27 PM »

Since Eastern Catholics follow the Eastern Tradition, this leads me to wonder if Western Orthodox follow the Western Tradition.

I attend Eastern rite parish so I let the actual WRO answer your question but you seem to make false assumption that "Western Tradition" equates with "present Latin Catholicism". Customs have changed over the times within Latin Christendom and there is much variation on a historical scale.
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jwinch2
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2013, 01:45:20 PM »

Since Eastern Catholics follow the Eastern Tradition, this leads me to wonder if Western Orthodox follow the Western Tradition.

I attend Eastern rite parish so I let the actual WRO answer your question but you seem to make false assumption that "Western Tradition" equates with "present Latin Catholicism". Customs have changed over the times within Latin Christendom and there is much variation on a historical scale.

I am not making any sort of false assumption.  From browsing the forum, I know that there are some on here who believe that statues did not show up in the West until after the schism, but there are other sources which disagree with those claims. 

Regardless, the liturgies used in both the ROCOR and Antiochian WRV seem to date from well after 1054.  If those traditions are present in Western Rite Orthodoxy, it is not unreasonable to ask whether others are as well.
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2013, 01:53:56 PM »

Since Eastern Catholics follow the Eastern Tradition, this leads me to wonder if Western Orthodox follow the Western Tradition.

I attend Eastern rite parish so I let the actual WRO answer your question but you seem to make false assumption that "Western Tradition" equates with "present Latin Catholicism". Customs have changed over the times within Latin Christendom and there is much variation on a historical scale.

But the WR isn't some hobby project for liturgical archeologists.
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2013, 02:14:33 PM »

Since Eastern Catholics follow the Eastern Tradition, this leads me to wonder if Western Orthodox follow the Western Tradition.

I attend Eastern rite parish so I let the actual WRO answer your question but you seem to make false assumption that "Western Tradition" equates with "present Latin Catholicism". Customs have changed over the times within Latin Christendom and there is much variation on a historical scale.

But the WR isn't some hobby project for liturgical archeologists.

You sure?
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2013, 11:09:19 PM »

While there were some statues uses in the West prior to the schism, they were the exception. Prior to the influence of the post-schism Bernard of Clairvaux, iconography was employed on the walls of churches. After Bernard, icons were replaced with a single statue or two so as not to "distract" people. The rise of Gothic architecture brought in more statuary.
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2013, 06:37:46 AM »

Prior to the influence of the post-schism Bernard of Clairvaux, iconography was employed on the walls of churches. After Bernard, icons were replaced with a single statue or two so as not to "distract" people. The rise of Gothic architecture brought in more statuary.

Any source for this? I'm fairly ignorant about historical development of iconography so I'd like to read more of this.
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2013, 06:56:01 AM »


But the WR isn't some hobby project for liturgical archeologists.

You sure?

No  Sad
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2013, 05:15:10 PM »

Prior to the influence of the post-schism Bernard of Clairvaux, iconography was employed on the walls of churches. After Bernard, icons were replaced with a single statue or two so as not to "distract" people. The rise of Gothic architecture brought in more statuary.

Any source for this? I'm fairly ignorant about historical development of iconography so I'd like to read more of this.

Just my observation and what I've heard from those who have been to pre-Gothic churches in Europe where you can still see the faded Romanesque iconography.
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2013, 06:17:18 PM »

I cannot speak for ROCOR, but here are the official guidelines for the AWRV's use of images.

Sub-point C under Tit. IV. "FIDELITY TO THE RITE"
On the use of Images in the Western Rite:
1.) An exception to the prohibition of Eastern customs shall be made for the cult of icons. In the use of icons in the church, home, and among the faithful, preference should be given to those of our Lord, the Theotokos (the Blessed Virgin Mary), major Catholic Saints and great feasts rather than to those of local Eastern Saints. The teaching of the VII Oecumenical Council on images and their theological implications shall be presented in popular form to the Western Rite laity.
2.) The use of icons shall be strictly confined to genuine icons of authentic style and suitable reproductions. The cheaply executed, westernized, commercial icons of poor design so common with dealers are to be avoided.
3.) Icons of Western Saints and themes based on good Romanesque models, such as those produced by the community of Ss. Denis and Seraphim in Paris, are encouraged.
D.) Statues shall conform to pre-schismatic usage in general.

This is from the 2013 Ordo.

In my own experience, icons vastly outnumber statues in WR parishes.
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2013, 06:19:52 PM »

I have seen pictures of Romanesque statues that are very early (2nd or 3rd Century) depicting Christ as the Good Shepherd, so I am fairly confident that very early in the life of the Church, statues were part of the tradition of the West.  Here is one example: http://www.swordofthespirit.net/bulwark/jan09p8.htm

What I am unsure of is at what point statues started showing up in Church buildings/parishes.  I have heard claims here and elsewhere that it was much later in Church history (with some above stating that it was not until the time of the Cistercian reformation of the Benedictine Tradition), but I have also heard others state that there were statues in Church buildings well before 1054.

At this point, I am unsure what to believe.  

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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2013, 06:20:17 PM »

I cannot speak for ROCOR, but here are the official guidelines for the AWRV's use of images.

Sub-point C under Tit. IV. "FIDELITY TO THE RITE"
On the use of Images in the Western Rite:
1.) An exception to the prohibition of Eastern customs shall be made for the cult of icons. In the use of icons in the church, home, and among the faithful, preference should be given to those of our Lord, the Theotokos (the Blessed Virgin Mary), major Catholic Saints and great feasts rather than to those of local Eastern Saints. The teaching of the VII Oecumenical Council on images and their theological implications shall be presented in popular form to the Western Rite laity.
2.) The use of icons shall be strictly confined to genuine icons of authentic style and suitable reproductions. The cheaply executed, westernized, commercial icons of poor design so common with dealers are to be avoided.
3.) Icons of Western Saints and themes based on good Romanesque models, such as those produced by the community of Ss. Denis and Seraphim in Paris, are encouraged.
D.) Statues shall conform to pre-schismatic usage in general.

This is from the 2013 Ordo.

In my own experience, icons vastly outnumber statues in WR parishes.

Interesting.  Thanks for that. 
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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2013, 06:35:45 PM »

Pre-schism, East and West, icons were the rule. Statues existed as well, and they were the exception.
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« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2013, 07:02:14 PM »

Pre-schism, East and West, icons were the rule. Statues existed as well, and they were the exception.

Yes, I saw that you wrote that above.  Do you happen to have a source for those claims?  I'm not trying to argue, but I do like to look such things up. 
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« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2013, 10:47:37 PM »

Pre-schism, East and West, icons were the rule. Statues existed as well, and they were the exception.

Yes, I saw that you wrote that above.  Do you happen to have a source for those claims?  I'm not trying to argue, but I do like to look such things up. 

No, but I'm sure several could be found. Mine come from a variety of sources and experience.
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2013, 11:16:41 PM »

Pre-schism, East and West, icons were the rule. Statues existed as well, and they were the exception.

Yes, I saw that you wrote that above.  Do you happen to have a source for those claims?  I'm not trying to argue, but I do like to look such things up. 

No, but I'm sure several could be found. Mine come from a variety of sources and experience.

OK, I'll keep looking.  Thanks,
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« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2013, 02:00:24 PM »



Holy Incarnation Orthodox Church in Michigan.
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« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2013, 02:14:13 PM »

A statue? Of JOSEPH? HOLDING THE BABY JESUS? I hope LBK doesn't see this. police
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« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2013, 02:19:30 PM »

Are WRO statues venerated?

I'm more scandalized over chairs than statues. Grin
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« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2013, 02:38:29 PM »

We light candles before, pray before, and cense our shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham at my parish.
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« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2013, 03:43:40 PM »

We light candles before, pray before, and cense our shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham at my parish.

Interesting.  Thanks! 
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« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2013, 05:29:03 PM »

A statue? Of JOSEPH? HOLDING THE BABY JESUS? I hope LBK doesn't see this. police

LBK has now seen this, and LBK is NOT HAPPY!! It wouldn't make any difference whether it's an "icon" or a statue of St Joseph holding Christ, such imagery has no place whatsoever in an Orthodox church.

If its presence there is due to honest ignorance, which is highly likely, then a showing of the error of their ways is in order.  angel
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« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2013, 07:39:23 PM »

The rector of that parish is the Assistant to the Vicar General of the Western Rite Vicariate, and I'm fairly certain the beautiful statue is there deliberately Smiley

I'm sure you've touched on this elsewhere, and I don't want to derail this thread, but I'm curious what your thoughts are on Hymns of the Nativity, Hymn 4 by St. Ephrem, where he writes:

Joseph caressed the Son as a Babe; he ministered to Him as God. He rejoiced in Him as in the Good One, and he was awe-struck at Him as the Just One, greatly bewildered.

"Who has given me the Son of the Most High to be a Son to me? I was jealous of Your Mother, and I thought to put her away, and I knew not that in her womb was hidden a mighty treasure, that should suddenly enrich my poor estate. David the king sprang of my race, and wore the crown: and I have come to a very low estate, who instead of a king am a carpenter. Yet a crown has come to me, for in my bosom is the Lord of crowns!


Why can this statue (or an icon) not be understood in this same manner?
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« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2013, 09:48:20 PM »

The rector of that parish is the Assistant to the Vicar General of the Western Rite Vicariate, and I'm fairly certain the beautiful statue is there deliberately Smiley

I'm sure you've touched on this elsewhere, and I don't want to derail this thread, but I'm curious what your thoughts are on Hymns of the Nativity, Hymn 4 by St. Ephrem, where he writes:

Joseph caressed the Son as a Babe; he ministered to Him as God. He rejoiced in Him as in the Good One, and he was awe-struck at Him as the Just One, greatly bewildered.

"Who has given me the Son of the Most High to be a Son to me? I was jealous of Your Mother, and I thought to put her away, and I knew not that in her womb was hidden a mighty treasure, that should suddenly enrich my poor estate. David the king sprang of my race, and wore the crown: and I have come to a very low estate, who instead of a king am a carpenter. Yet a crown has come to me, for in my bosom is the Lord of crowns!


Why can this statue (or an icon) not be understood in this same manner?

That hymn is not part of the Orthodox liturgical hymnography for the feast of the Nativity, nor for the feast of the Sunday after the Nativity which commemorates Prophet David the King, St Joseph the Betrothed, and St James the Brother of the Lord. It is, at best, a personal reflection on the part of St Ephraim, and does not represent the definitive and universal Orthodox teaching, as expressed in hymnography and canonical iconography.

I'll say it again: My offer to send a PDF document analyzing the proper iconography of St Joseph the Betrothed is still open. A pity that only one or two people have taken up the offer over the years.
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« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2013, 11:09:13 PM »

That may be so, but it doesn't mean it should be easily dismissed. The Eastern hymnography does not have to be taken as exhaustive.
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« Reply #26 on: February 11, 2013, 11:25:02 PM »

I think it's not an either-or situation. Depending on the parish, they might have both, but wouldn't venerate statues in the way icons are.
Why not?
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« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2013, 11:27:40 PM »

I think it's not an either-or situation. Depending on the parish, they might have both, but wouldn't venerate statues in the way icons are.
Why not?

I guess it would come down to what "venerate" means, but I mainly had kissing and praying through them in mind when I typed it.
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« Reply #28 on: February 11, 2013, 11:35:21 PM »

But why wouldn't that be acceptable for statues?
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« Reply #29 on: February 12, 2013, 12:01:28 AM »

But why wouldn't that be acceptable for statues?

It gets debated on here sometimes, but from a traditional EO point of view it's often that only icons are to be venerated. Since statues aren't icons, they aren't to be venerated. Icons are a flat, two-dimensional object that allows for an abstract other-worldly depiction, whereas statues are by nature three-dimensional and this-worldly.

That's what I've gathered from posters on here, but someone else might be able to clarify better than I could. Also, it should be pointed out that even those coming from a traditional Eastern POV can recognize legitimate uses for statues provided they aren't being used as icons.
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« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2013, 12:15:23 AM »

That may be so, but it doesn't mean it should be easily dismissed. The Eastern hymnography does not have to be taken as exhaustive.

Yet there must be complete harmony between the liturgical, doctrinal and iconographic. Hymnography and iconography are the clearest, surest and most accessible sources of what the Church believes, teaches and espouses, irrespective of geographic location or jurisdiction. A statue or "icon" of St Joseph holding the Child in no way conforms to what the Church teaches about him and his relationship to the young Christ.
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« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2013, 12:24:14 AM »

I'll say it again: My offer to send a PDF document analyzing the proper iconography of St Joseph the Betrothed is still open. A pity that only one or two people have taken up the offer over the years.

Can you send it my way please?

I've always been bothered with St. Joseph holding Christ. It just doesn't seem theologically correct.
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« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2013, 12:36:49 AM »

I'll say it again: My offer to send a PDF document analyzing the proper iconography of St Joseph the Betrothed is still open. A pity that only one or two people have taken up the offer over the years.

Can you send it my way please?

I've always been bothered with St. Joseph holding Christ. It just doesn't seem theologically correct.

Sent you an email.  Smiley
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