• Please remember: Pray for Ukraine in the Prayer forum; Share news in the Christian News section; Discuss religious implications in FFA: Religious Topics; Discuss political implications in Politics (and if you don't have access, PM me) Thank you! + Fr. George, Forum Administrator

Why must icons be venerated as a matter of dogma?

Brother Michael

Sr. Member
Aug 15, 2021
Reaction score
Encinitas, CA
Greek Orthodox
Metropolis of San Francisco
Blessed theophany,
This reminds me of the cardboard cutouts of spectators they were displaying in empty stadiums during covid. They actually put pictures of season ticket holders on the cutouts themselves and in their appropriate seats. While the actual spectators were at home watching the games.
Church itself is an icon of the day of resurrection and you are rehearsing and/or actually living the moment out in the present. So the emphasis is on the parishioners, just as it is for players in a football game. It's a matter of contest, the people in church are going through the motions of salvation and the icons represent the seen. From the time of baptism on. You have to look through the icon and see the actual person that is depicted.

BTW: the icon in my avitar is panagia prousiotissa and holy tradition states it was written by st. Luke the apostle himself.
I also saw a video of an Orthodox church where they had icons in the pews.

Most of the dogmatic works we have (eg, various lists of anathemas) do not mention kissing at all, but rather more generic positive terms (salute, venerate, etc) or a list of negative terms to avoid in relation to icons (insulting, mocking, denying, blaspheming, etc). So we would have to consider how the person treats other people. Do they shake hands with a boss or touch the shoulder of friends, but refuse to touch the hands or shoulders depicted on icons? That's pretty clearly an anathema. Now if they have a generic problem with authority or touching in general, that's a whole other matter, but it should be easy to investigate how they treat their friends and superiors and see if they behave similarly around icons.
I think there is an issue with bowing to and kissing bosses and friends. Maybe better would be to bow to or kiss a dearly beloved elderly relative, who has given up a lot for you.


OC.Net Guru
Mar 26, 2015
Reaction score
Yes, the Second Council of Nicaea gave a response to this question. As the coins bearing an image of the emperor were honored throughout the territory, with far greater reason, the Crucified Images of Our Lord, of His Blessed Mother, and of the Angels and Saints, as Nicaea II explained, were to be venerated with honor, out of reverence for those they depicted.

Already in Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 3, the Lord compares His Crucified Self to the Bronze Statue raised up by the Prophet Moses - a Scriptural Proof that God commanded and mandated the veneration of an icon even in the Old Testament, and that as an indispensable requirement to obtain the Divine Grace of Supernatural Healing.

Now, the Lord applies this to Himself in the New Covenant, with the Word that as Moses lifted up the serpent for healing of the body, the Son of God must be lifted up on the Cross for the healing of the soul. Hence, Icon Veneration is Biblical, and thus Apostolic. Similarly, in Gal 3:1, St. Paul teaches that Depiction of Christ's Image on the Cross is a Good Thing.

An excerpt from Session 4 of Nicaea II: https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3819.htm

"Theodore the most holy bishop of Catanea, said: If the holy Gregory, vigilant in divine cogitation, was moved to tears at the sight of the story of Abraham, how much more shall a painting of the incarnation of our Lord Christ, who for us was made man, move the beholders to their profit and to tears?

Tarasius the most holy Patriarch said: Shall we not weep when we see an image of our crucified Lord?"
Its not only symbology or representation, it is also the fact that created matter can be sanctified by God's uncreated energies, for example God commanded Moses to put off his sandals, because the ground on which he stood was HOLY, by putting off his sandals he showed reverence to what is sanctified. Also most importantly the incarnation. If matter can be santified then what is sanctified by divine grace have to be revered, the saints, the relics, the icons.