THE SEVENTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL APPROVES THE VENERATION OF ICONS

The Seventh Ecumenical Council which opened in Nicea, Bithynia, on September 24, 787, was attended by 350 bishops, and soon joined by 17 other hierarchs, who abjured the Iconoclast heresy. Next to the papal delegates and those sent by the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, the monks, who had been relentlessly persecuted under the Iconoclast emperors Leo III the Isaurian (717-741) and Constantine V Copronymus (741-775), were well-represented with a count of 136.

In this last great council recognized by all the Apostolic Churches, the holy fathers proclaimed the eternal memory of the defenders of Orthodoxy: Patriarch Germanus (715-730), Saint John Damascene, George of Cyprus, and all who had been subjected to exile and torture in their defense of Holy Icons.

The council fathers decreed: “We define with all certitude and accuracy that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God, and on the sacred vessels and on the vestments and on hangings and in pictures both in houses and by the wayside, to wit, the figure of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honorable Angels, and of all Saints and pious people.”

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