What are the icons in the temple?

The word "icon" in Greek means "image." The sacred images of the Lord, the Mother of God, the angels, the saints we call icons. There are many different icons, you can read more about them in the article. And in this article we will talk about what icons can be seen in the temple.


Now we will talk about the church iconostasis. It is worth noting that it is a must and the most important element of each temple. The iconostasis consists entirely of icons arranged strictly in tiers, some of them are mandatory, others are not. The number of tiers in each temple is different, but there should not be less than three.

Mandatory and optional icons

So, let us tell about the ranks of the iconostasis and the obligatory images of the faces of the Lord and the saints. In the 15th and 19th centuries. formed the order of the high iconostasis. Now we will talk about it in more detail.

The Russian iconostasis has 5 rows: local, Deesis, festive, forefather.

Also, the Russian iconostasis has 3 doors: the central, royal - the Lord himself is depicted on them, the archangels Gabriel and Michael are depicted on the north and south.

Let's tell more about the ranks of the iconostasis.

  1. In the local row there must be an icon of the Savior to the right of the royal gates, and the image of the Mother of God with the baby is to the left. Above the Royal Doors should be the icon of the Last Supper. In this series may also be present nominal icons and icons dedicated to the current holiday.
  2. Deesis is the most important. In the middle is the icon or the Savior on the throne. It depicts the saints praying to Christ and Christ himself. The image of John the Baptist is on the right, then the archangel Gabriel and the Apostle Paul, and on the left the icon of the Mother of God, followed by the archangel Michael and the Apostle Peter. Large iconostases are complemented by various images of saints, or 12 apostles.
  3. The festive series consists of icons of the Great Feasts and the images of Easter and Holy Week. Required icons - Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. In some, but not in all the temples, this series includes the icons of the Passion of Christ, the Assurance of Thomas, the Nativity of the Virgin and the Introduction to the Temple, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Epiphany.
  4. Prophetic series. It always depicts the Kings David and Solomon, the prophet Elijah. In the center of the row is the icon of Our Lady of the Signs. Various saints can also be depicted, their number depends on the size of the iconostasis of the temple.
  5. The forefathers row is a unique gallery of forefathers.This series contains the icons of the ancestors of Christ - from Adam, Eve and Abel to Moses himself. In the center of the row is the icon of the Fatherland or the Old Testament Trinity, the choice of the temple.

The iconostasis necessarily ends with a cross or the Crucifixion icon. Sometimes on the sides of the cross you can see icons, which depict the Mother of God and John the Theologian.

Unique icons

Each temple has its own temple icon, i.e. it depicts the saint in whose honor the temple is named, for example, the icon of Our Lady of Kazan is located in the Kazan Cathedral. And the icon of the Mother of God “The Gracious” is the property of the Zachatievsky monastery.

Every Orthodox should know which icon to turn to when asked for.