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#402247 12/19/13 12:46 AM
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Hi Folks,

This is my first post, and I'd very much appreciate your responses to a few questions I have about icons. First, I am a practicing Roman Catholic who's very interested in Orthodox spirituality - so-much-so that I'm planning on investigating a local (South Florida) Melkite church. I'm currently reading "The Way of the Pilgrim", I've begun praying the Jesus Prayer, and I've just ordered two beautiful prayer ropes.

I've always loved icons. I'd like to purchase one, but I want to be sure I'm staying true and respecting the Orthodox tradition and teachings. I have a small prayer space next to my bed, and I plan on making my night stand my icon corner. It will be necessarily humble, due to space and funds.

As St. Joseph is my patron saint (my middle name, named after my own father), I'm wondering if I were to have just one icon, would it be acceptable to have one of St. Joseph holding the Christ child? This is the one I particularly like:

http://www.easterngiftshop.com/Item/IcSJosBetr3

Or would it be more acceptable to have one such as Christ Pantocrator or Christ the Teacher? Again, my current financial situation dictates that I can only have one at this time; plus I'm somewhat of a minimalist. Thus, my desire to be respectful of tradition.

In addition, is it okay to have a Latin cross in my prayer space with my icon? Finally, is anyone here familiar with the work of iconographer Joan Cole from Divinity Icons? If so, what are your thoughts about her work, which can be seen via the following link?

http://www.divinityicons.com/index.html

Thank you in advance for considering my inquires!

KeithS #402279 12/20/13 03:17 AM
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Keith

I'm a tad reluctant to try and answer your questions as there are many views about Icons and Icon corners, and I'm no expert.

What I will say is that in the "East" you will rarely find an Icon of the Holy Family where St Joseph is physically touching the Child - that's not to say you won't , you will BUT it's not the norm and Orthodox Iconographers will not normally write/paint an Icon where there is this physical contact. Look at the Icons of the Nativity - you will usually see Joseph well separated from the Virgin and Child , depicted as an old man , seated , clearly confused and being confronted by a figure [ usually to be understood as Satan] tormenting him mentally.

My first Icon was one of the Theotokos and then I found one of Christ - the Pantocrator.

A word of warning though - once you have one Icon - you will find yourself getting more - they just seem to find their way to you , and that's from personal experience biggrin

KeithS #402285 12/20/13 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by KeithS
As St. Joseph is my patron saint (my middle name, named after my own father), I'm wondering if I were to have just one icon, would it be acceptable to have one of St. Joseph holding the Christ child?
Of course.

Originally Posted by KeithS
Or would it be more acceptable to have one such as Christ Pantocrator or Christ the Teacher?
You are free to choose. The icon of Saint Joseph holding the infant Savior is very nice.

Originally Posted by KeithS
In addition, is it okay to have a Latin cross in my prayer space with my icon?
Of course. There are numerous styles of crosses. All are symbols of the crucified Christ who died for our sins.

Originally Posted by KeithS
Finally, is anyone here familiar with the work of iconographer Joan Cole from Divinity Icons? If so, what are your thoughts about her work...?
I'm not familiar with her work, nor am I an iconographer or a theologian. To me her work seems orthodox.

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Originally Posted by Our Lady's slave
What I will say is that in the "East" you will rarely find an Icon of the Holy Family where St Joseph is physically touching the Child

Thank you for your reply, Our Lady's slave. I wasn't aware of that. Interesting.


Hi Administrator,
I particularly appreciate your reply. Thank you for the helpful information; it certainly has helped with my decision.

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Originally Posted by Our Lady's slave
Look at the Icons of the Nativity - you will usually see Joseph well separated from the Virgin and Child , depicted as an old man , seated , clearly confused and being confronted by a figure [ usually to be understood as Satan] tormenting him mentally.

If one were to visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and go down into the cave to see the altar built over the spot where Our Lord was born, one will see an icon of the Nativity that includes Saint Joseph in the cave adoring the Christ Child along with the Theotokos:
Icon 1 [stmacharsranfurlychurch.org.uk], Icon 2 [upload.wikimedia.org]

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Originally Posted by griego catolico
Originally Posted by Our Lady's slave
Look at the Icons of the Nativity - you will usually see Joseph well separated from the Virgin and Child , depicted as an old man , seated , clearly confused and being confronted by a figure [ usually to be understood as Satan] tormenting him mentally.

If one were to visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and go down into the cave to see the altar built over the spot where Our Lord was born, one will see an icon of the Nativity that includes Saint Joseph in the cave adoring the Christ Child along with the Theotokos:
The figure of an old man talking with Saint Joseph is a shepherd. http://www.pravoslavie.ru/foto/image3843.htm

Saint Joseph is depicted almost at all icons of the Nativity. You can see the iconography here
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/foto/set414.htm



KeithS #402384 12/25/13 06:56 PM
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I personally like the imagery and the understanding of the torment of Joseph.

It makes more sense.

It adds a real human response to the situation (doubt, fear, apprehension, selfishness) ... rather than a sugar coated vision of total peace and tranquility.

It also fits into the picture of fleeing for your life and worry.

Of course all these things ... self absorption, worry, stress, fear, doubt - get in the way of a real relationship with Christ Our God and Christ as God ... which is also a REAL occurance.

Keep the imagery of the torment of Joseph intact ... as well as the imagery of awe and wonder - they are not mutually exclusive responses to Jesus Christ - you can experience both in the same day (at least I have experienced both in the same day - sometimes during the same liturgy)

John

KeithS #402387 12/26/13 05:24 PM
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Merry Christmas everyone!

Thank you for your on-going replies. I especially like your thoughts on St. Joseph, as well as the images from the Church of the Nativity. Quite appropriate at this time, I'd say.

On another note, in my further investigation of iconography, I've discover the Coptic and Neo-Coptic tradition. I really like the simplicity and almost childlike sensibility in Coptic icons.

I realize some may not prefer Coptic icons, but I am wondering if icons from that tradition are still considered "orthodox." I am considering purchasing a Coptic icon from here:

http://www.theotokos.org/?page_id=729

I particularly like the first one, Christ the Pantocrator (On the Bishop's Throne).

Any thoughts?

Nataly #402389 12/26/13 05:41 PM
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"The figure talking to Saint Joseph is a shephard"

I thought it was Satan putting doubt in Saint Joseph as seen here:
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/foto/image3775.htm


Ray S. #402418 12/28/13 07:59 AM
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I'd read somewhere - and unfortunately cannot remember where, to cite it - that the old figure was originally intended to be a shepherd, but the understanding of his meaning later morphed into being the Tempter. Therefore in some icons he looks mostly harmless, and in some later icons he takes on a more menacing or haggard look.

But I can't cite it, so take that with a grain of salt.

Ray S. #402420 12/28/13 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Ray S.
"The figure talking to Saint Joseph is a shephard"

I thought it was Satan putting doubt in Saint Joseph as seen here:
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/foto/image3775.htm
Another interpretation is that it is the Prophet Isaiah. Link. [newliturgicalmovement.org]

KeithS #402548 01/05/14 05:32 PM
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In the mythology of my wife's Lemko people, the elderly man was said to be the "wandering Jew". I wonder if anyone on this forum of Rusyn or Ukrainian background ever heard this? That figure being Satan I heard from Fr.Theodore Juriewicz. Fr. Theodore is a well-known iconagrapher, one of the better pupils of the late Archimandrite Kiprian. Fr. Kiprian' best pupil is Archbishop Alypy, now largely inactive, due to the unfortunate accident he suffered in 2002.

KeithS #402624 01/08/14 06:22 AM
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Bless, Father Al,

I wasn't aware of the identification of the figure in this icon as the 'Wandering Jew' - interesting.

For those unfamiliar with the characterization, the 'Wandering Jew' appears in the folklore of a number of European cultures. He's usually described as having taunted Christ during the time that Our Lord was carrying His Cross to the Crucifixion site and, as a result, to have been cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. Sometimes, he's seen as representative of the Jewish peoples who rejected Christ and must wait for the Second Coming to be embraced by Him.

Good to see some posts from you, Father, it's been a while. Prayers that you had a blessed Nativity and that you'll have a Happy and Healthy New Year (and that you're staying warm out there in the tropical climes of Michigan biggrin )

Many years,

Neil


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
KeithS #410294 01/19/15 12:26 PM
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Hello All,

I have a question about a particular icon of our Lord on ebay that I am considering purchasing. It is an old Russian hand-painted icon with a metal oklad. I am really drawn to how the face of Christ is depicted. I find it beautiful and compelling.

However, my question has to do with how rusted the oklad is. While I like the rustic look of the piece, I am wondering if it would be inappropriate to display such an old icon in my icon space. Here is the icon in question:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Old-Russian-Orthodox-Icon-ikon-of-Jesus-on-Metal-Oklad-/141539500411?pt=UK_Antiquities&hash=item20f469617b

Your thoughts on this matter will be much appreciated!

KeithS #410536 02/12/15 10:21 AM
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Don't see why not. You might try cleaning the icon if you decide to buy it (if you haven't already). The traditional way of cleaning the icon is with water, but the water should never be thrown away but returned to a river or else placed among flowers.

Alex

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