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Themes for Icon Class 2019/ Session 1/ The Holy Face

2019 icon classes

The Holy Face


The icon Not Made by Human Hands is also called the Holy Face or the Mandylion. The story surrounds King Abgar, king of Edessa during the earthly life of Christ and who was seriously ill. The king knew of Christ’s healing power and sent his court servant/painter to seek out Christ and to bring Him to the king. The servant could not come near to Christ because of the crowds of people, but Christ knew that the king needed healing. Christ proceeded to press his face into a cloth (the original “Made-Without-Hands Icon”, mandylion), imprinting the cloth with His image and gave the cloth to the servant. The servant brought the cloth to his king and King Abgar was thus healed.

There could not exist any icon until God revealed Himself and in Jesus Christ the fullness of God was made manifest to the world. The invisible God chose to make Himself visible so that we can commune with Him and become one with Him. The Holy face fills our souls with great magnitude of iconographic joy. He reaches out to us in love, He invites us to know God, He comes to us not to condemn but to save. His Face remains open to all the sorrows of the world. In His face we see everything which encompasses human nature; body, soul, emotions, thoughts and will. In His face all exist in perfect harmony, beautiful and transparent to the light of Divine Nature.

The icon of the Holy Face is the Church’s first liturgical icon given to us by Christ Himself.

We will explore the theology and spirituality of the icon of The Holy Face. We will explore how liturgy visibly embodies the spirituality and sacramental mission of the Holy Icons. In the lyrical beauty of our liturgy we truly learn that “beauty will save the world,” because here, in faith and love and hope, we have indeed encountered the Lord of Heaven and earth and all that is visible and invisible — we can see, and truly live, by the light of Christ.

And the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us,
and we have seen His glory,
glory as of the only-begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
(Jn 1.14)

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