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The 'ark of salvation' image


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#21 Eric Peterson

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 03:43 PM

I didn't think "ecumenists" was a term used in 1817, nor "New Age."

#22 Ryan

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 08:04 PM

Yeah, it says "after a fresco"- it's not the fresco itself, which I'd be curious to see an image of.

#23 Nicolaj

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Posted 17 August 2008 - 06:18 PM

Thanks for the Picture, now we look for the fresco!

In Christ, Nicolaj

#24 Olga

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 04:35 AM

I didn't think "ecumenists" was a term used in 1817, nor "New Age."


One of the characters in this drawing is indeed labelled "New Age" (Nea Epoche). It is the dragon with the curly tail at bottom left. The figure of the bishop surrounded by the two demons is labelled "Ecumenist" (Oikoumenistis). The Slavonic inscription is also rendered in a more modern form of script than would have been used in the 19thC. I suspect this drawing dates from the early to mid-20thC.

It would be very interesting to see the fresco which "inspired" this drawing. At a guess, I suspect it may be an icon of the Last Judgement, or of the Ladder of Divine Ascent. Both these icons contain common elements with this drawing, but have an utterly different meaning to it.

#25 Fabio Lins

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 03:55 PM

I would like to understand what is wrong with this image. Are not the "enemies of the church" pictures therein really enemies of the Church? Doesn't this image reveal in pictures the spiritual reality of the ongoing spiritual war the Church faces? When politics is used against the Church should we not denounce it just because our reaction will obviously have political aspects too? Should the prophets who denounced kings and princes be reproached just because in their spiritual mission political consequences issued?

I ask these questions not rethorically, but with all honesty trying to understand. As I see it, *there is* a political, cultural war against the Church that is but an instrument of the overral spiritual war the demons have been waging against Her (of which we are members and therefore "military targets"). Although the inner strugle against passions should be in the forefront and is the "field of war" par excellence, I fail to see how reacting in the cultural or political level would not be spiritual either.

#26 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 04:10 PM

I would like to understand what is wrong with this image. Are not the "enemies of the church" pictures therein really enemies of the Church?


Perhaps not. Or maybe they simply are not the REAL enemies of the Church, deflecting our attention from that which is needful?

Doesn't this image reveal in pictures the spiritual reality of the ongoing spiritual war the Church faces?


Honestly, I don't know. Does it? Some in authority as Olga says, think not, or at least not in an appropriately edifying manner.

When politics is used against the Church should we not denounce it just because our reaction will obviously have political aspects too? Should the prophets who denounced kings and princes be reproached just because in their spiritual mission political consequences issued?


Interesting observation. Do you know (can you cite) reference to icons of a similar nature that show the prophets specifically denouncing kings and princes? Is there a genre of icons that depict this specifically? If so, then perhaps a determination might be made as to whether or not this particular icon belongs to that genre (I really would have to see specific examples however to make a comparison).

I ask these questions not rethorically, but with all honesty trying to understand. As I see it, *there is* a political, cultural war against the Church that is but an instrument of the overral spiritual war the demons have been waging against Her (of which we are members and therefore "military targets"). Although the inner strugle against passions should be in the forefront and is the "field of war" par excellence, I fail to see how reacting in the cultural or political level would not be spiritual either.


Again, if you can direct me to similar authoritative icons that depict such things, it would be much easier to decide if this particular icon fits in that genre or not. If that genre does not exist, then that perhaps ought to serve as evidence that this might not be an appropriate subject to iconify. Otherwise, if the subject is appropriate, then we must ask if this particular icon does so in an appropriate manner. Concerns as to why this might NOT be so have already been fairly well covered, at least to best determination of this bear of admittedly little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#27 Olga

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 09:55 AM

Herman makes some very valid points to Fabio's enquiry. This matter could be approached in various ways, my first thought on reading their posts was "where do I start?". My second thought was "there is no such thing as a brief reply to this". My apologies for the length of this post:

First and foremost, iconography is, above all else, concerned with the revelation of God in Trinity: of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God which has allowed the sanctification of fallen creation (matter), including humanity (made in the image of God)**; of the signs and wonders of the Divine revelation in both the Old and New Testament periods; and, in its portrayal of the saints, their transfiguration from mere men and women into those who have attained deification, a "oneness with God" and full participation of the heavenly life with God and in God, through the conduct of their earthly lives and their steadfast witness to the true faith. They have become true icons and reflections of the Divine. The word godly is most apt to describe them.

(** St John of Damascus sums this up beautifully: "Of old, the incorporeal and uncircumscribed God was not depicted at all. But now that God has appeared in the flesh and lived among men, I make an image of God who can be seen. I do not worship matter, but I worship the Creator of matter, who through matter effected my salvation. I will not cease to venerate the matter through which my salvation has been effected."

Secondly, in the same way that the saints have obliterated their passions to give themselves completely to God, icons must also reflect this dispassionate quality. Obvious displays of human emotions, even a “positive” one such as laughter, are considered to be manifestations of human passion, and therefore have no place in iconography. Christ’s kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18: 36), therefore the portrayal of saints in their spiritually transformed state must be dispassionate. This also applies to church singing and reading; the singers and readers are there to glorify God and serve the church by their efforts, not to self-aggrandise. Even the display of sorrow in the face of a saint or the Mother of God should be kept subtle, with the emotion conveyed with the eyes, not through histrionics.

Thirdly, there must be complete agreement between scripture, liturgical content (which represents the distillation of the doctrinal, dogmatic and theological position of the Church - readers may remember the thread on the iconography of St Joseph the Betrothed from a while back), and the pictorial content of an icon for any icon to be deemed canonical.

Hence there is no place for ugliness, anger, enmity, and other negative emotions in iconography. The purpose of an icon is to draw us closer to God. Of course, there are specific examples of didactic icons, such as Last Judgement and Ladder of Divine Ascent which feature fearsome dragon-like creatures swallowing unrepentant evildoers. The Resurrection icon shows the personification of sin and death bound in chains in the abyss. It may be said, therefore, if there is room for such portrayals in these canonical icons, then why object to the presence of the figures in the Ark of Salvation image?

I offer this reply: An icon is a material, tangible expression of the incarnate God. The iconographic portrayal of the saints as icons of Christ, then, should reflect the sanctity, dispassion and boundless compassionate mercy of Christ to those who repent of their sins. Do we not pray to the saints and the Mother of God to intercede on our behalf? Are we not exhorted to pray for our enemies, to love them, and not to hate them? Of all scripture passages on this theme, Matt. 5: 43-48 is perhaps the most useful and succinct:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.


We are also assured that God is Love, and that His love and mercy are available to all who seek Him in true faith. There are petitions in various Orthodox litanies which ask for the repentance and return to the true faith of sinners, apostates, and, yes, enemies. One which immediately comes to mind is "Let us pray for those who love us, and those who hate us", a petition in the litany sung towards the end of the Great Compline services of Great Lent where the Canon of St Andrew of Crete is sung.

Herman rightly raised the question of the iconographic portrayal of prophets and saints who denounced kings and princes. Such scenes are found in the smaller panels of a "life" icon of a saint or prophet (an icon which has a large central panel of the saint or prophet, surrounded by a series of smaller panels showing scenes of his or her life). Keeping to the dispassionate nature of icons, these scenes of rebuke of kings and princes (such as in icons of Prophet Elijah, and any number of OT and NT saints and righteous ones) show the saint standing before the errant ruler with a hand raised in rebuke, but nothing more. It is also significant that such scenes, almost without exception, are never used as icons in their own right.

it is not surprising that certain schismatic groups have favoured this image as it reflects their particular ideology. To me, this so-called Ark of Salvation image suggests that those who are not Orthodox are somehow beyond repentance and redemption. Can we really agree with this as Orthodox Christians? The persecuting Pharisee Saul openly boasted of his zeal and success in persecuting Christians, yet, by the grace of God, became one of the Princes of the Apostles, a pillar of Orthodoxy. There are also innumerable converts to the Orthodox faith who have come from every religious background imaginable, including atheism, paganism and Communism; many who have become saints, in times of old, and in our present day. The grace of God knows no bounds.

Iconography, as I have said before, must never be used for political or ideological purposes. To portray the non-Orthodox as a whole as being irredeemable and in league with demonic and evil forces to destroy Orthodoxy is a shameful debasement of iconography. I am reminded of a reply to a convert to Orthodoxy as to how he came to the conclusion that the Orthodox faith was the true faith: "The Soviet Union was capable of destroying anything. Yet, despite its immense power and resources, it could not destroy the Orthodox Church. So that was good enough for me." The gates of hell cannot prevail, indeed ...

My apologies again for the length of this post.

#28 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 01:18 PM

This reminded me of the drawing called И НАИС ТИС ЕККЛИСИАС (sorry- don't have Greek font on my PC) which I believe means SHIP (or ark?) of the Church.


In terms of this discussion it is interesting that in this ship are only Christ and the apostles. Since they are shown simply amidst waters the clear suggesion is that the Church in itself as guided by Christ and the Apostles is the saving ark of salvation as we cross the waters of this life. This is the only point of the drawing.

Secondly this is clearly a drawing and not an icon, in the style of if not actually drawn by Photios Kontoglou .

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#29 Olga

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 11:35 PM

This reminded me of the drawing called И НАИС ТИС ЕККЛИСИАС (sorry- don't have Greek font on my PC) which I believe means SHIP (or ark?) of the Church.


In terms of this discussion it is interesting that in this ship are only Christ and the apostles. Since they are shown simply amidst waters the clear suggesion is that the Church in itself as guided by Christ and the Apostles is the saving ark of salvation as we cross the waters of this life. This is the only point of the drawing.

Secondly this is clearly a drawing and not an icon, in the style of if not actually drawn by Photios Kontoglou .

In Christ- Fr Raphael


There is nothing objectionable in the figure of Christ and the saints sailing "the good ship Orthodoxy" on the waters of life. What is objectionable is the presence of the other figures on the shore.

It is unlikely Kontoglou himself produced this drawing; there was a certain roughness (for want of a better word) in his artistic technique, and the inscriptions do not resemble his hand or inscription style at all, from the work of his that I have seen.

It is standard practice for painters and iconographers alike to produce line drawings (cartoons) of their proposed work, as drafts, or to be traced onto the surface to be painted, particularly in the case of murals or frescoes. This drawing may well be such a cartoon.

#30 Fabio Lins

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 04:19 AM

Thank you for your replies. I understand it now, plus a couple of other reasons have come to my mind as well. :)

Fabio L. Leite

#31 Olga

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 05:40 AM

Thank you for your replies. I understand it now, plus a couple of other reasons have come to my mind as well. :)


Could you share these reasons with us?

#32 Fabio Lins

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 01:43 PM

Could you share these reasons with us?


Certainly. :)

I think of the martyrs as a reference. We also do not have icons with the particularly gross ways many of them died. Still, some of them have in their icons the instruments of their deaths (the icon of St. Catherine is one that comes to my mind).

This is related, as I see it, to a question that some atheists ask: why God does not heal amputees or mutilated people? Because I am not very miracle interested I really do not know if there is not such cases (I would guess there are). But, I cannot fail to see that even the ressurrected glorified body of Our Lord kept the wounds.

What I mean is that whatever our crosses may be, they are glorified along with us just like the Cross was glorified itself and Jesus' wounds. And what matters in the icon is the glorified aspect, not the past wordly one.

Political struggles *are* something particularly gross and the consequences they have in our life and in the church *will* be glorified and that is what matters in the icon. Thus, images that depict them as they are in the world - even in symbolic ways - are not icons as didatic as they may be.

I think that it is important to make clear that there are people and groups who oppose the church. I feel a chill everytime I see people equating socialism - the ideology that killed most Christians ever - with some sort of "secular expression" of Christianism and simply ignoring that it was in free capitalist societies that people fled from those said "social" expressions of "christianism". But pseudo-icons are not the place to express this because this is an eartlhy struggle, much like the instrument of torture of the martyrs.

#33 Christophoros

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 09:41 PM

Here are two scans of the "Mystical Icon of our Holy Orthodox Church Amidst Persecutions," available from Dormition Skete and Uncut Mountain Supply.

Some noticable differences between the two are:

1) The soldier holding the spear near the middle bottom is labeled "Julian the Apostate" in the Uncut icon, and "Leo the Iconoclast" in the Dormition Skete version.

2) The Dormition Skete icon adds the figure of Lenin next to Luther.

3) The beast in the lower right hand corner is labeled "Hades" on the Uncut icon, and "Mohammed" in the Dormition Skete version.

4) The red demon figure on the far right is labeled "Assembly of Heretics" and the figure dressed in episcopal vestments is labeled "Ecumenists" in the Uncut icon, while the two are labeled "Athenagoras and the Demon of Freemasonry" on the Dormition Skete icon.

Attached Files


Edited by Christophoros, 07 October 2008 - 09:49 PM.
added differences.


#34 Olga

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 10:31 PM

Christophoros

Thank you very much for posting these enlarged images. They will come in very useful when I next give a presentation on uncanonical icons. The tweaking of the apellations of the images is quite instructive; an unfortunate example of manipulating an already suspect image to suit a particular "ecclesiopolitical" view. Very sad.

#35 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 11:10 PM

Such icons are classic examples of zealous enthusiasm for the sanctity of the Church, and a deep desire to proclaim its unique truth in the face of heresy, nonetheless completely ignoring the canonical traditions they mean to proclaim with such vigour.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#36 Olga

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 10:18 AM

In an earlier post, Fr Raphael wrote:

This reminded me of the drawing called И НАИС ТИС ЕККЛИСИАС (sorry- don't have Greek font on my PC) which I believe means SHIP (or ark?) of the Church.

In terms of this discussion it is interesting that in this ship are only Christ and the apostles. Since they are shown simply amidst waters the clear suggesion is that the Church in itself as guided by Christ and the Apostles is the saving ark of salvation as we cross the waters of this life. This is the only point of the drawing.

Secondly this is clearly a drawing and not an icon, in the style of if not actually drawn by Photios Kontoglou .


Here is that drawing, which has an inscription "by the hand of Rallis Kopsidis", and a date, which as far as I can decipher, is most likely 1956.

Posted Image


Here is a little about him:

Born at Kastro on the Island of Limnos in 1929, Rallis Kopsidis studied at the School of Fine Arts (1949-1953) with Andreas Georgiadis, but abandoned his studies at the fourth year in order to continue with Photis Kondoglou (1953-1959). He had his first one-man exhibition in Athens (1958) and has shown his work in several Greek cities at other solo and group exhibitions, including a number of Pan-Hellenic ones. He has painted in a contemporary perception the hagiographies of the Patriarchal Center at Chambesy (Geneva) and has written and illustrated several literary books. He is one of the main representatives of the Hellenic style and his work contains elements of the naive and Byzantine painting. He lives and works in Athens.

#37 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 01:54 PM

Thank you for the information!

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#38 Ryan

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Posted 25 June 2011 - 11:20 PM

My wife and I were on vacation in Moscow and we visited the Tretyakov gallery. In the section devoted to icons, I did indeed come across an "Ark of Salvation" icon very similar to the ones under discussion. It was dated to the 18th century. It did not, of course, have Lenin or "ecumenists" depicted but there was indeed an array of figures on the shore menacing the Ark, including a figure firing a musket and someone enthroned whom I guessed was the Pope. And there was also a turbaned man, whom I assume to be Muhammad, aiming a bow, as well as other figures. I don't think there were labels attached to identify them, and I didn't have much time to examine the icon, but I think it can surely be said that these contemporary "Ark of Salvation" icons have precedent- which is of course a separate question from whether they are legitimate.

#39 Olga

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 06:35 AM

My wife and I were on vacation in Moscow and we visited the Tretyakov gallery. In the section devoted to icons, I did indeed come across an "Ark of Salvation" icon very similar to the ones under discussion. It was dated to the 18th century. It did not, of course, have Lenin or "ecumenists" depicted but there was indeed an array of figures on the shore menacing the Ark, including a figure firing a musket and someone enthroned whom I guessed was the Pope. And there was also a turbaned man, whom I assume to be Muhammad, aiming a bow, as well as other figures. I don't think there were labels attached to identify them, and I didn't have much time to examine the icon, but I think it can surely be said that these contemporary "Ark of Salvation" icons have precedent- which is of course a separate question from whether they are legitimate.


The presence of an icon in a state museum does not, in itself, confer canonicity upon it. Museums and galleries all over the world, including in countries where Orthodoxy is the dominant faith, possess "icons" of unmistakeably uncanonical content. The matter of historical precedent is quite irrelevant, other than from a purely historical perspective. But, historical perspective is irrelevant to the liturgical and doctrinal integrity of an icon.

Do you have a picture or a link to the image in the Tretyakov?

#40 Ryan

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 11:02 AM

I brought this up entirely as a matter of historical interest- I'm not attached to this image nor will I defend it. Of course there are many questionable images which are centuries old.

Unfortunately I don't have a photograph of the image, and I can't find it online. As I recall, it was somewhere toward the middle of the exhibition and was part of a free-standing display (as opposed to one of the displays along the walls). Anyone going through the Gallery with his eyes peeled will definitely see it.




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