Kursk Root Icon
Russian Orthodox Mission
Who's Who
The Bishop
The Priest
The Monks
The Deacon
Warden (non-clergy)
What is That?
Icons

Covering the walls of the church, you will find images (called icons) of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people. Think of them as family pictures you might have around your house. Technically, they are not "artwork", and they are written, not painted. We say this because there are very strict guidelines to iconography and very little room for artistic expression. They represent Christ, the saints, and the angels and therefore must be as accurate to the historical account as possible.

The purpose of the icon is to teach the faith and to bear witness to the image of Christ in His saints and in His Church. Everytime we worship, we are reminded of the great witness to the constant faithfulness and glory of God of His saints throughout history. For this reason, the icon is not necessarily an exact representation of the person, but is written in such a way that communicates the spiritual truth and reality of that person's witness. If you pay close attention, you can find little signs in each icon which tell their stories. We do not worship the icons, but we give honor. This honor is not towards paint and wood, as if towards an idol, but to the image of Christ in them. 

The Smells and Bells
The Altar
Candles
Iconostasis

Upon entering an Orthodox Church you may be struck with the enormity of a wall at the front of the room. This is called an iconostasis. Some are very elaborate and rise from floor to ceiling and are covered in icons (very specific icons, for everything has symbolism) while others are very minimalistic and may even be a simple see-through screen.

The iconostasis serves many purposes, but is never meant to separate us from God. The iconostasis can be seen as a window or bridge to Heaven, and since Christ is our "bridge" to God, it can also represent Christ. Any Orthodox believer is allowed to go behind the iconostasis, provide he/she has a purpose, and a blessing from the priest.