Christian main page Icons

Icons are an important part of the spirituality and worship of the Eastern Orthodox churches.


There are several key things to note about icons:

  • Icons are not worshipped in and of themselves; rather they are portals to worship. The icon itself is a vehicle. It's object is to transmit the supernatural, to help us see what is beyond.
  • No living person is ever portrayed on an icon.
  • There are a semi-official set of approved icon topics. The artist is not free to invent new icons.
  • An icon is deliberately not realistic. The unlogical perspective, odd colors and distorted figures are not the result of incompetent artists. Instead they each have a symbolic purpose in communicating not the physical likeness of a saint, but their spiritual essence.
  • Almost every aspect of the icon has a symbolic meaning. The gold colored background (and the lack of a perspective for the source of light) conveys that the icon is lit by the spiritual light of God

You can walk through these pages in order, or go directly to a topic of interest
Page 2: Jesus on icons
Page 3: Jesus, Pantocrator (ruler of all)
Page 4: St. John Chrysostom
Page 5: beyond the tradition


This is an icon of St. John, theologian, author of the gospel of John. Note the large head, appropriate for a theologian. He is holding the gospel of John, open to the first verses.
Last updated 2/7/06; first posted 5/99; © 2006 John P. Nordin