Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church

Portland, OR

Iconography of Saint George

Introduction

When one enters Saint George they will experience an Orthodox liturgy service along with the beautiful hymns that will give you a sense that you are in the presence of God. Part of attending an Orthodox service, you are using all of your senses of touch, sound, taste and sight. Iconography is all about exploring our journey to God by using our sight in combination with our other senses in helping us to achieve our spiritual goal of being whole with God. Yes, seeing an Orthodox service is beautiful within itself and having Icons within the church will help us see what God wants us to model ourselves after. Having Icons in an Orthodox church helps one keep their eyes and mind focus on the service instead of wondering. Below is some background information on the theological of Iconography, layout of Saint George Icons, examples of possible future Icons that are similar to Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Yakima, Washington and a few books on Icons.


Theological of Iconography

The following excerpt is from a Antiochian Orthodox Christian of North American: ICONS are images of Christ, of His angels, of His saints, and of events such as the Birth of Christ, His Transfiguration, His death on the Cross, and His Res¬urrection. Icons actually participate in and thus reveal the reality they express. In the image we see and expe¬rience the Prototype. An icon of Christ, for example, reveals something of Christ Himself to us. Icons are windows to heaven, not only revealing the glory of God, but becoming to the worshiper a passage into the Kingdom of God. The history of the use of icons goes back to the early Church-Tradition tells us Luke the Evangelist was the first iconographer. Orthodox Chris¬tians do not worship icons, but they honor them greatly because of their participation in heaven's reality.

As you are in our church, try to notice the variety of symbolism that are within the icons. Such as: Icons in the Orthodox Church are not merely decorations but vessels of meaning that hold some of Christianity's most important theological truths. It is immediately apparent that are some symbolism is used in icons and details are used minimally. For example, when showing John the Baptist baptizing in the river the grown man he baptizes is shown as an infant because the baptism is a rebirth. Colors are also symbolic. Blue reveals heaven and mystery. Green is youth, fertility and the earth’s vegetation. Red, the color of blood, suggests life, vitality and beauty. White is purity, the divine world and innocence. Gold indicates sanctity, splendor, and the glory of God and life in the heavenly kingdom. Purple reveals wealth, power and authority.

Even the faces and even landscapes represent something different or even symbolic. The Byzantine style depicts the body in a spiritual way: at once visible in both its glorified and still human form. The saints are depicted often with sunken cheeks and frail bodies signifying their life of fasting, modesty and abstinence. Their lips are small, signifying the prudence of words, rather than a loose and thoughtless tongue. The ears are slightly larger to show not only their attentiveness to the voice of God, but also to the prayers of those who call upon them for help. The faces drawn are solemn and not smiling, not as an expression of sadness but the rather dispassion before the things of this world.


Articles and links on Iconography and Purchasing Icons

If you want to read further on Iconography, below are two articles that are on the Antiochian Orthodox website that will give you deeper knowledge.

Eastern Orthodox Christians and Iconography by Cindy Egly’s article on the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America website.

Holy Icons article by a monk of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, 1986 on the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America website.

Orthodox Arts Journal webpage. This link have numerous posts discussing the theories of drawing Icons.

If you are interested on purchasing Icons, visit our Saint George's Bookstore website for recommended Icons or to the Ancient Faith Store.


Iconography of Saint George

With memorial funds raised by numerous families, the Icons that was on the Iconostasis needed to be replaced. The parishioners’ seeked out an iconographer from Syria to draw the Icons. In addition, the great dome was filled with the grand icon of Christ the Ruler of All (Pantokrator) surrounded by angels. This could not have happened without St. George’s community raising funds through members generous donations and numerous fundraisers. In later years, the half dome icons were put in place, primarily funded by memorial of past members, in the altar (Platytera), choir (Icon of the Resurrection of Christ) and baptism (the Icon of Theophany) area.

Our current Icons are in order of their importance.

Icon of Pantokrator

The main dome at the center is Jesus Christ, Pantokrator (Almighty). In the outer circle of Christ, it reads: "I am the Almighty and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, Who is and Who was and who is to come."

Theotokos, Bearer of God

In the Apse of the Church, midway between the top of the dome and the floor, behind and above the altar table, is the Virgin Mary, whom we title Theotokos (Bearer of God), and Platytera, who is “more spacious than the heavens,” for it was through her that the uncontainable God became man.

ICONOSTASIS

Along the top of the Iconostasis are the 12 disciple with the Last Supper above the Royal Doors.  The large Icons below from left to right are: Saint George the patron saint of the church, Archangel Michael, Virgin Mary and Christ, Christ, Archangel Gabriel, and John the Baptist.  The four small Icons on the Royal Doors to the altar are the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Theophany Icon

On the left side of the altar in the baptism area is the Theophany above, where John the Baptist baptize Jesus.

On the right side of the altar in the choir and chanter area is the Resurrection of Christ.

Resurrection in the Choir Section

Photo of church service

As you notice in the photo on the left, there are a lot of big blank white walls that will make any iconographer excited! Some of our current Icons are donated for a memorial of a loved one which would give you a sense that your love ones are there with you. At the moment, we do not have the pricing of the Iconography project, but if you are interested in donating to Saint George's Iconography Project in memory of a love one, please contact Father George and specified which Saint you are interestd on donating to.


To give you a better idea on how the walls may look refer to the links below of some Antiochian Orthodox Churches that have their walls completly covered with Icons:

Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Yakima, Washington

Antiochian Orthodox Church of Redeemer in Los Altos, California

Saint Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York

Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, Kansas


Go to Top