Iconography will be an ongoing project for the interior of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church for years to come.
The initial project involves painting a border design on the walls above the installation of Byzantine symbolic veil depictions.
The Veil and its Placement in the Church
The word “veil” in Hebrew means a screen, divider or seperator that hides. It is a symbol which means a passage to another world. Therefore, the veil in the place of “The Holy of Holies” of the sanctuary was shielding a holy God from a sinful man. Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering into the very presence of God.
Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross changed the historical barrier of man passing through the actual curtain in ancient Israel. When Jesus died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from top to bottom. As the veil was torn, the Holy of Holies was exposed and God’s presence was accessible to all. The good news that came of the torn veil is that to us as believers, we know that Jesus’ death atoned our sins and made us right before God. The torn veil illustrated Jesus’ body broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God.
The veil symbolizes that we can boldly enter into God’s presence, “the inner sanctuary behind the cutrain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf”. (Hebrews 6:19-22) The passage into the other world is a representation of Heaven itself, God’s dwelling place, which we have access through Christ.
The Eastern Orthodox Church will many times depict the veil such as in icons of The Holy Face and perhaps angels then flanking or holding up the veil. The veil is also depicted on the ground level of walls as a traditional placement to remind the faithful of the custom of ancient Israel and the passage into God’s presence and Jesus’ sacrifice to enter Heaven itself, to appear for the believers in God’s presence.