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Icons - Saints and Elders


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#1 James M.

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 12:18 AM

I'm not clear on whether icons are made only of the saints... or whether they may be made of departed, beloved elders that inspire us?
Say for example Elder Thaddeus of Serbia (Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)? Seems I've seen some of folks that are in-between death and glorification in the Church. Just curious. Thanks!

#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 12:26 AM

Icons of those not yet canonised are jumping the gun.

#3 Olga

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 02:06 AM

In recent years, portraits of elders or others considered as possible candidates for sainthood have been painted in the distinctive, non-naturalistic artistic styles associated with iconography. However, if such portraits are to be painted, the person should not be bearing a halo, should not be holding a Gospel book (if that person is a priest or bishop), and the inscription of the person's name should not included the title Saint. A recent example of this is the painting of an "iconographic" portrait of Fr Seraphim of Platina (aka Fr Seraphim Rose) a few years ago, with the blessing of HE Hilarion, Metropolitan of ROCOR. Fr Seraphim bears no halo, and the inscription reads Blessed Seraphim of Platina. I have also come across such portraits of several departed Athonite elders of recent times.

There have been occasions where icons with all the usual details have been painted of people not yet "officially" proclaimed as saints. Few of these have actually been later recognised in this way by the Church. One who comes to mind where the gun was jumped (to borrow Andreas' term), but where many correctly regarded the proclamation of his sanctity as inevitable, was St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. The first icon painted of him was in 1966, shortly after his repose. He was officially glorified in 1993.

My personal view is that I feel that this sort of portrayal resembling an icon should be kept to an absolute minimum. I would regard any such portrayal to be unacceptable if the person so depicted is still alive.

Edited by Olga, 18 December 2012 - 10:31 PM.
corrected typo


#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:58 AM

The following is an example, of Elder Sophrony of Essex, of what is meant:

Attached File  elder-sofronios-1_resize.jpg   145.38K   68 downloads

Elder Sophrony is one of the 'saints-in-waiting' and is considered a great saint (not least be Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos). But the icon is too early even though the faithful pray to him, offer incense to his photograph, and ask his help and intercession.

A part of the monastery here in Essex has wall paintings showing the life of St Silouan and some of the scenes depict Fr Sophrony, but he is shown without a halo. This can be painted in in due course.

#5 James M.

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 01:02 PM

Thanks! We have Blessed Mother Olga of Alaska in the same category... and there are plenty of icons of her - even with the halo... as you say, "jumping the gun". Haven't seen any of Elder Thaddeus... but he got me wondering. I appreciate and thank you for your swift answers.

#6 Kusanagi

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 07:45 PM

Speaking of jumping the gun in Romania there are icons and frescoes of an elder that has not passed away yet!!

#7 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 09:47 PM

They are not being kind to him, making it harder to maintain humility. People do not so smart things sometimes.

#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 08:22 AM

The same could be said of those who like to call a spiritual father 'elder'.

#9 Vlad

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 06:35 PM

Speaking of jumping the gun in Romania there are icons and frescoes of an elder that has not passed away yet!!

about which elder are you talking about ? where are the frescoes ?

#10 Kusanagi

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 06:17 PM

Fr Iustin Parvu. Google it and the results show up.

#11 Vlad

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 08:34 PM

i found the frescoe you were talking about. It is in a monastery i visited a couple of months ago but i did not notice the image of father Iustin on the walls of the new church. They shouldnt have represented him there...not yet. A regrettable mistake indeed.

#12 Eric Peterson

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 09:47 PM

I tend to equate spiritual fathers with elders, in that they are very rare. Others call the priest who hears their confessions their spiritual father. I don't have a problem with them doing that, but I don't do it myself. To me, real spiritual fathers are rare and have certain qualities not all priests who hear confessions have.

#13 nijjhar

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:52 AM

Hi Brethren,

Christ Paul rejects icons and it make people to worship idols. In Jesus, we need to worship our Father God in Truth and Spirit - John4.

A Bishop from the Russian states stressed that he would not canonise the Samaritan Woman at the Well for her marrying one husband after the other.

Is that right when she is St.Photina?

I tend to equate spiritual fathers with elders, in that they are very rare. Others call the priest who hears their confessions their spiritual father. I don't have a problem with them doing that, but I don't do it myself. To me, real spiritual fathers are rare and have certain qualities not all priests who hear confessions have.






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