The Council’s main purpose was to address the divine nature of Jesus Christ and the concept of HIs being the Son of God the Father. This had to be done in order to squash the Arian heresy once and for all. It was also to establish a date for the celebration of Easter, resolve organizational and clerical issues, and the development of Church law (what today is called Canon Law). They were also attempting to settle a schism that had occurred in Egypt. That schism was being fomented by another bishop who had enlisted with the heretic Arius.
The Council was also tasked with development of a Christian Creed that would provide unity of belief for both the Eastern and Western Rites of the Church. This unity of belief was critical since the Church needed a formal set of beliefs that could be used as a catechetical tool and a binder that kept all the cultural and geographical “Catholic” churches together.
The Council of Nicaea basically resolved all the main issues of its agenda. It was a stunning achievement. The priest Arius was banished for promoting heresy and his ideas declared anathema. Yet, the problem the Council still faced was convincing Arius’ followers of their heretical errors. Banishment or not, an unrepentant Arius continued to spread his opinions fomenting confusion throughout the Empire.
The Eastern and Western Rites of the Catholic and Orthodox Church have always believed that sacred icons and sacred images are always venerated by the faithful; they have never and are never worshipped.To worship sacred icons, sacred images, statues, and other visual reminders of the glory of God and His saints is against the 1st Commandment (confer Exodus 20: 2-17, and Deuteronomy 5: 6 – 21). If anyone worshipped those visual images they would correctly be called idolaters. Worship is for God alone, that is, the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; Three Divine Persons in One God.
Our Savior Jesus Christ is One Person with two natures: human and divine; that is a state of being which is part of the great Mystery of the Incarnation of God into human existence.
Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, sacrificed in Jerusalem through His Passion, Crucifixion, and death. Jesus, following His Father’s will, suffered and died for us in order to atone for all of humanity’s sins (past, present, future). God the Father and God the Holy Spirit responded by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day, ultimately enabling Jesus to interact and be seen by His Apostles and hundreds of disciples.
Truth, Goodness, Beauty, and Love, incarnate in our Savior.
Thanks for stopping by.
May you continue to have a prayerful Holy Week and a joyous Easter Season.
Copyright © 2011- 2019, Deacon Paul O. Iacono – All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint must be obtained from the author in writing. Students, and those interested, may quote small sections of the article as long as the proper credit and notation is given. Thank you.
One thought on “St. Athanasius – Coptic and Eastern Orthodox Icons”
Dear Deacon Paul,
I always enjoy your posts. Many thanks for continuing to send them.
In reference to your most recent post regarding Saint Athanasius, I am notsure you have correctly interpreted the icon of the First Council of Nicea.
I think the bishop in the distinctive conical, (beehive), headdress is Saint Spyridon of Trimythous the Wonderworker. He is recorded as being an attendee at the Council. He isalso recorded as having convinced a heretic of the unity and diversity of the Trinity byholding up a brick, then commonly thought to be a combination of the elementsfire, earth and water; as he spoke, fire blazed from the brick while watergushed out underneath, and Spyridon was left holding dust. Now, whether the heretic was Arius, and whether ithappened at the Council, does not seem to have been recorded, but conflatingthe two would not be an unusual procedure in iconography, and I suspect thatthis is what explains the tableau in the foreground of the icon you have shown. I think you can see flame and water falling from Spyridon’s hand. I agree that Athanasius was only a deacon at the time of the Council, (315),while he became a bishop in 328, and he is possibly one of the figuresin the background. In particular, on our left of the altar is a figure in adark dalmatic with a lighter collar, who I think is quite likely Athanasius.
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