The following article was published in the Arlington Catholic Herald:
Children hold their icons during a special blessing at Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale March 5 on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
CatholicHerald.com - Imagine you are a Christian living in the eastern part of the Roman Empire in the eighth century, and your essential instrument of prayer is an image of Jesus, Mary or a saint. Suddenly, the emperor bans the veneration of icons. Soldiers strip holy images from churches, and those caught with an icon are punished. Nearly 100 years later, icons and holy images were welcomed back.
Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians commemorate the restoration of holy images on the first Sunday of Lent when they were returned to the empire in 843. The celebration is known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and parishioners of Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale marked the day by bringing icons and holy images to be blessed March 5.
Children stood in the church’s aisle during Divine Liturgy, holding icons of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. George and other saints to be blessed by Father John G. Basarab, the pastor.
In his homily, Father Basarab told the history of the Iconoclastic Controversy that began when Emperor Leo III took the first commandment literally, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image … ”
The emperor commanded his soldiers to remove and destroy icons from all places. The debate of venerating images of Christ led to the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.