Sempre più amici stranieri delle pagine de “I sentieri dell’icona” ci chiedono di prevedere l’inserimento, quando possibile, di testi almeno in lingua inglese al fine di allargare di più la platea dei potenziali fruitori dei nostri contenuti divulgativi. Lo facciamo ben volentieri assicurando sin d’ora l’impegno a valutare, appena possibile, una sezione apposita riservata proprio all’inglese. Cominciamo con questo contributo dedicato alla Domenica del Trionfo dell’Ortodossia che le Chiese d’Oriente celebrano in occasione della prima domenica della Grande Quaresima, 42 giorni prima della Pasqua. E’ la festa riservata anche alle icone che, come si vede nelle fotografie a corredo, vengono portate solennemente in processione durante le celebrazioni liturgiche del giorno.

The Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy is celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent. It is the celebration of the victory of the iconodules over the iconoclasts by the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Therefore, the service is to commemorate the restoration of icons for use in services and private devotional life of Christians. The Holy Icons of the saints bear witness that man, “created in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:26),

Icons are venerated by burning lamps and candles in front of them, by the use of incense and by kissing. But there is a clear doctrinal distinction between the veneration paid to icons and the worship due to God. The former is not only relative, it is in fact paid to the person represented by the icon. This distinction safeguards the veneration of icons from any charge of idolatry. The theme of the victory of the icons, by its emphasis on the incarnation, points us to the basic Christian truth that the one whose death and resurrection we celebrate at Easter was none other than the Word of God who became human in Jesus Christ.

The icon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy commemorates the “restoration” of icons in the churches and to their use in Orthodox worship. The focal point of the icon is an icon itself, the Virgin Hodegetria, a popular depiction of the Theotokos as “Directress,” or literally “She who shows the way to God.” The icon is carried by two angels. The icon of the Virgin Hodegetria, depicting the Theotokos as the “Directress”, is processed amongst the people and held on high by two angels. To the left of the icon is the Empress Theodora and her son Michael III. To the right of the icon are the Patriarchs Methodios and Tarasios. The icon is surrounded by numerous saints who struggled against the Iconoclastic heresy. The icon represents the triumphant procession that was made on Sunday, March 11, 843, from the Church of the Theotokos in Blachernai to Hagia Sophia, where a Liturgy was celebrated to mark the restoration of icons.

The Apolytikion of the Sunday of Orthodoxy:
“We venerate Your most pure image, O Good One,
and ask forgiveness of our transgressions, O Christ God.
Of Your own will You were pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh
to deliver Your creatures from bondage to the enemy.
Therefore with thanksgiving we cry aloud to You:
You have filled all with joy, O our Savior,
by coming to save the world”.

Icon in the photo: “The restoration of the Holy Icons”, Emmanuel Tzanfournaris, late 16th-early 17th century