Sunday Afterwords: Saints and Dragons

Icon of John the Baptist. This Byzantine icon, which dates to about 1300 A.D., is currently at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Icon of John the Baptist. This Byzantine icon, which dates to about 1300 A.D., is currently at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

When we walk into the icon exhibit at the Chrysler museum we are greeted with the words of Saint John of Damascus: “Visible things are images of invisible and intangible things, on which they throw a faint light.”

Who was Saint John of Damascus? This Doctor of the Church wrote treatises on the veneration of the icons against the iconoclastic Byzantine emperor. The Seventh Ecumenical Council, held in 787, upheld the teaching espoused by Saint John in these words, “Icons are to be kept in churches and honored with the same relative veneration as is shown to other material symbols, such as the precious and life-giving cross and the book of the Gospels”.

When we first walk into the exhibit we encounter art that is Christian art but in a form that is unfamiliar to many Western Christians. However, icons are a part of the fulness of the patrimony of the Christian faith whose art embraces both the Orthodox east and the Latin west. This video will give you some insight into what an icon is and how it functions in the liturgy. Icons have a part in revealing the truth of the Christian mystery, within the Liturgy of the eastern church.

On December 19 from 1 to 3 pm, in the Kaufman Theater in the Chrysler Museum, there will be an event: “Sound of the Saints: Celebrate St. Nicholas and the holiday season with an enlightening Saints and Dragons presentation and a special choral performance. The Rev. George Bessinas of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral presents an illustrated talk about Orthodox traditions involving icons. Following his presentation will be a musical performance, in English and in Greek, from the cathedral’s chanters, choir, and youth choir.”

As Christmas approaches, a visit to this exhibit would be a wonderful way to prepare spiritually for the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord.