The Sacred That Surrounds Us: Sacred Artwork & Icons
February 6, 2022, 12:00 PM

Sacred artwork and icons are a reflection of God’s holiness. Sacred artwork might be placed around the church and on walls and can be made out of a variety of materials (including metal, wood, and framed pictures). Icons are written prayers and a particular form of sacred art using natural pigments. Sacred artwork and icons help teach us our Catholic Faith and tell us a story through images.
Artwork in the Christian community flourished underground in the catacombs and moved into the churches that were converted or erected after Christianity became legal. A heresy that started in the eighth century (AD 726), known as Iconoclasm, opposed the use of images for devotional purposes. Icons were sadly smashed and destroyed in churches during this time by those who opposed their use. The seventh ecumenical council, Nicaea II in 787, defined as proper and helpful the use of icons. Iconoclastic controversy would be launched two more times in the ninth century: under Leo V the Armenian and again under Theophilus. It was an important factor in the Western and Eastern Church schism.
In the earthly Liturgy, the Church participates, by a foretaste, in that heavenly Liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which she journeys as a pilgrim, and where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; and by venerating the memory of the Saints, she hopes one day to have some part and fellowship with them. Thus, images of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saints, in accordance with the Church’s most ancient tradition, should be displayed for veneration by the faithful in sacred buildings and should be arranged so as to usher the faithful toward the mysteries of faith celebrated there. (GIRM 318)
“This world is which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. It is beauty, like truth, which brings joy to the heart of man.” – St. Paul V