Icons: From Ancient to Modern
Throughout the history of the Christian religion, icons have depicted holy people and sacred events. From the Virgin Mary and St. Peter the Apostle to the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, icons have served to glorify saints and their lives to a degree unmatched by mere historical hearsay or biblical myth. For centuries, icons have played an integral part in Church ritual as many have believed in the practice of kissing them in order to heal or work miracles. Most icons utilize general stereotypes that can be associated with the life or teachings of the religious figure portrayed. For example, an icon of St. Patrick might depict him standing on top of a snake, thus conveying a representation of his fabled feat of driving all the serpents out of Ireland (a widespread belief which is wholly untrue). Though icons are still painted today, similar iconic motifs can be found in modern art, photography, and advertising.
While ancient religious icons have persevered through the ages, inspired countless believers, and provided hope for the weary, modern icons have in similar fashion captivated the world and impacted society forever.
The first icon depicted here is of the Archangel Gabriel. The painting, which is of Russian origin and is dated between the 13th and 14th centuries, shows a somber Gabriel holding a scepter in his right hand. This scepter accompanied with his daunting wings protruding from his shoulder blades as well as his long, curly locks convey the fact that this truly is an angel. His left hand seems to suggest an invitation into the Kingdom of Heaven while in contradiction his facial expression and piercing eyes look as if he is saying, "I'm sorry, there's nothing I can do." Also present in this icon (though very faded) is...