Clicking here goes to information on the icon.Welcome to the St. Luke Web Page.
Search the site.Listen to Father Borichevsky's restored radio programsSee What St. Luke Orthodox Church has planned.Visit and sign our guest book.Contact the St. Luke Orthodox Church Web Development Team.
Find something on the site in a hurry.
St. Lukes Orthodox Church Home PageDonate Now!Shop for Orthodox goods from your Computerchurchdirectory Pages that deal with St. Luke the Evangelist Orthodox Church. What's the news at St. Lukes.View all the previous and current Evangelist newsletters.View the Sunday bulletin.Information about St. Luke Orthodox Church including the Mission and Vision statements. Pages for 'keeping in touch' with God. Information on prayers and prayingView the prayer of the week and all other previos prayers of the week.Need to pray for something? What is the Orthodox Church and how/why do Orthodox Christians worship? What is the Orthodox Church of America?Who were the Saints, and why do we honor them?Find and explore many different liturgical texts we have available, including the Divine LiturgyWhat is Pascha?  See what it's like at St. Luke's.How is Orthodoxy playing a role in the present times?Learn what are icons and how are they used in the Orthodox Church today.BellsSee what we have to offer!Current Issues Pages for Organizations of St. Lukes. Christian Education, Youth Group, Music, Church Resource Center, Adult Education, and Junior Olympics.Maintenance, New Building, Strategic Planning, Cell Phone Tower, Inventory, Cemetery/Memorial Book, and Historian.Outreach, Charities, Internet, Evangelist Newsletter, Media, Prison, Sanctity of Life, and Mission.Liturgical, Altar Servers, Bell Ringers, Cemetery, Readers, Greeters, Choir, and Vestments.Fellowship, Supply Coordinator, Prayer, Women's Ministry, New Americans, Sunshinem, Flowers, and Vestments. Some stuff Study the bibleSearch the bibleOrthodoxy on the lighter side...Words of Wisdom...If you've got the taste for great Orthodox foods, this is the place to be.Children friendly section of the pageMessages

The Iconography of St. Luke Parish

You should not be reading this...
Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

An Overall View of the Iconography at St. Luke Parish

Some of the text taken from a talk given to Lutheran group at St. Luke Orthodox Church
during Lent 2001 by Alexandria Lukashonak

Icon of the Theotokos

Orthodox Christianity and Iconography go hand in hand -- you don't get one without the other, and so today, I'd like to introduce you to Icons - particularly to the Icon of our Lady of the Sign which is the one you see on the wall of the sanctuary, the one that greets you as you enter our church. The Icon of the Virgin Mary Theotokos, which means birth giver of God, is seen as the heart of the church offering us her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

An icon of the Theotokos looms over the altar in St. Luke.

In Old Testament times, the temple was the place where God dwelled. With the incarnation of Christ, He came to dwell among us and in us. His Mother becomes the new temple and as such she is given an important place in the church.

Before I go on, I'd like to tell you a little bit about what icons are and what they are not:

An icon is a form of Holy Scripture. It represents a true account of a holy person or event, which actually occurred. Icons date back to Genesis 1: 26 humanity was created in the "icon" or "image" and likeness of God, but God had not yet become incarnate and had no visible, physical form. With the incarnation of Christ, that physical form became visible and was able to be depicted. The icon that we see here today is actually a copy of one, which was found in the catacombs dating back to the first century.

As we all know, the bible was not available in the early days of the Church. Even after the word of God was put into writing, it was virtually impossible for the average person to own a copy of the various scriptures. They had to be hand copied on vellum and were very expensive. In addition, the literacy rate in many countries was not high enough for the masses to read the scripture. The Church met this problem early on by adapting iconography, already developed in the first century, to a teaching use. Almost the entire bible would be painted in a manner, which was strictly regulated so that it correctly portrayed the scripture and these icons decorated the walls of churches to the extent that, in some churches, there would be no bare walls left. Iconography, in fact, became another language.

There was a period of time in the 8th century when rulers in the East (Leo III and Constantine V) attempted to subject the Church to their rule. In order to gain control of the Church, they attacked zealous Christians, especially monks, who defended the integrity of the Church. Their attack was specifically aimed at the veneration of icons. Eventually they were defeated and the proper use of icons was confirmed by the Council of Nicea held in 787, long before the church became divided.

Icons are not humanistic drawings of holy persons. They are not sentimental, personal revelations but are called upon to be true and faithful to the spiritual and ascetic qualities of the persons depicted, that is, the true reality of the person as he or she was created to be, unmarred by sin. This is actually what being a "Saint" is all about.

Icons are objects of reverence or respect and veneration or honor. This is very different from worship. We do not worship icons, rather, when correctly made and used in worship, icons give a greater understanding and awareness of spirit and truth and lift the soul upward in adoration of God and his creation. Honor rendered to the image ascends to its prototype and he who venerates an icon, adores the person.

The Icon of our Lady of the Sign which greets you upon entering St. Luke's is so named because she is the sign of the Incarnate Christ coming to us. In Isaiah 7:14, we read: "The Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin shall be with Child and shall call his name Emmanuel (God with us )." It is also known as the Platytera, a Greek word meaning "more spacious than the Heavens." In a hymn from St.Basil's Liturgy, we sing: 'For He made your womb more spacious than the heavens."

The Mother of God is shown with her hands upraised in prayer, and she is offering us her son, Jesus, usually shown in a mandula over her bosom. (A mandula is an oval circle representing the universe and showing that Jesus is the Creator of the universe.) The many winged angels, the cherubim, shown on either side of Mary indicate that she is higher than the angels Again, we sing: " more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare, more glorious than the seraphim, you gave birth to God the Word. "The letters at the top of the icon stand for Mary, Mother of God, and the letters on either side of Christ are his initials.

The letters in Jesus' halo stand for "O Own" meaning "I am," the name given to him on Mt. Sinai. The placement of this icon in the church is important. It is displayed in the dome over the altar because Mary who presents Christ to the world, also represents us in worship before God and is seen as a model in prayer to her Son, who we are all called to love and worship.

I'd like to close with the words of Peter Gillquist concerning his reaction during one of his early encounters with Icons. (This is taken from Again Magazine, Volume 9, No. 4.)

"I remember entering a church sometime ago and seeing a picture or icon of Mary with open arms front and center on the wall (apse) just behind the altar. My first impulse was to wonder why Christ was not featured at that particular place in the church though he was shown in a large circle that was super imposed over her heart. When I asked why she was so prominently featured, the Christian scholar with me explained: 'This is perhaps one of the most evangelistic icons in the entire church. What you see is Christ living as Lord in Mary's life and her outstretched arms are an invitation to you and me to let him live in our lives as he does in hers.' The power of that icon stays in my mind to this day, for she has set the pace (standard) for all of us to personally give our lives to Jesus Christ.

Icons in the altar at St. Luke

Icon of the Nativity

Written (Painted) by Cheryl Pituch a former Parishioner

An icon of the nativity is on the wall near the altar.

The icon of the Nativity of our Lord is on the North wall above the table of preparation. There is a relationship between the Nativity of Christ and the service of preparation which precedes the Liturgy. In the service the Holy gifts are prepared to be offered as Christ's birth is his preparation to be offered for our sins. The child is rapped in swaddling cloth which is symbolic of his grave rapping's. The icon depicts Joseph being tempted to put Mary away, the wise man, shepherds, angels and star from the East. Also can be seen are the midwifes washing the child Jesus and the barn animals.

The Crucifixion of our Lord

An icon of the crucifixion is on the wall near the altar.

This Icon on the South wall of the altar depicts Christ who said, "And I, If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself." (John 12: 32) The Theotokos, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, Apostle John and the St. Longinius are standing below the cross. From Christ's side flow blood and water which represent the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. This is literally the forgiveness of sins that gushed out of Jesus' side; the water gushed unto regeneration and the washing away of sin and the blood as drink productive of life everlasting.

The Eucharist

An icon of the eucharist is on the wall behind the altar.

This Icon of the Eucharist is on the back wall behind the altar showing Christ giving Communion to His apostles. All the apostles are in attendance, including St. Paul who was historically not in attendance at the Lord's Supper. The icon is not of the Lord's Supper, but rather a mystical icon of the Eternal Eucharist which was celebrated in the past, is celebrated in the present and will be celebrated in the future in the Kingdom of Heaven. An open Gospel is present on the Altar with the words of St. Luke. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22: 17-18)

St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom

Iconography of St. Luke Parish. Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The icons of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great are located under the windows above the Altar. They were placed there to honor the two saints who revised the ancient apostolic Liturgy of St. James. (To view the Divine Liturgy page with complete text please click here) These two revisions of the Liturgy are the most frequently used liturgies in the Orthodox Church and are named after these two church fathers.

To view the Life of St. Basil the Great, please click here

To view the Life of St. John Chrysostom, please click here

Iconastasis or Icon screen

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The Iconastasis or Icon screen was made by Rob Ketchmark the husband of one of our parishioners. The icons on the Iconastasis were painted by Heather MacKean who resides in Portland, Oregon. An Iconastasis is a trademark for Orthodox Churches. They are patterned after the wall in the Jewish temple which separated the woman's court from the sanctuary. This shows our connection with the Old Testament. The icons on it signify our unity with Christ, His mother and all angels and saints.

Icons of Christ and the Theotokos

Iconography of St. Luke Parish. Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The Icon on the left of the Altar table is of the Virgin and Child which commemorates the Incarnation of Christ and His first coming. The Icon of Christ on the right commemorates the Apocalypse (Second Coming) of the risen Christ. The Altar table which separates the two icons represents our time in which we communicate with God through His Son who is given to us in the Eucharist (Holy Communion).

Icons of St. Luke & St. Innocent

Iconography of St. Luke Parish. Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The second to the right and left on the Iconastasis are icons of St. Luke and St. Innocent. According to the parish tradition, the patron saint of the parish appears to the left of the Virgin and child (Greek) or to the right of Christ (Russian). Usually in the Greek tradition St. John the Baptist appears on the right of Christ. By putting St. Luke on the left as in the Greek tradition and St. Innocent to the right as in the Russian tradition we signifying the Pan Orthodox nature of St. Luke Parish.

Icon of Archangel Michael & Archangel Gabriel

Iconography of St. Luke Parish. Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The Archangels Michael and Gabriel appear on the two deacons' doors on the far left and right of the Iconastasis. They are placed on the doors as guards signifying that this is a holy place and to enter with fear and trembling. Michael, in Hebrew, means "Who is Like God." St. Michael is depicted with spear in hand with which he attacks Satan. He is considered to be the guardian of the Orthodox faith and fighter against heresy. He is the leader of the angelic army and when Satan fell away from God and carried half of the angels with him it was Michael who arose and cried to the unfallen angels "Let us give heed! Let us stand aright; let us stand with fear, and the whole angelic army sang aloud "Holy Holy Holy Lord God of Sabaoth: Heaven and earth are full of Your glory." ( See Joshua 5:13-15 & Jude 9)

Gabriel means "power of God." St. Gabriel is the herald of the mysteries of God, especially the mystery of the Incarnation and all those that are linked with it. He is the angel who announced to Mary, "Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you blessed are you among women" (Luke 1:28)

Icons of the Royal Doors

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The Royal Doors witness to the good news, the Gospel of salvation. The icon of the Theotokos and the Angel Gabriel at the center of the doors proclaim the first good news when the Angel announced to Mary that she would be with child of the Holy Spirit and give birth to a Son who would be Emanuel-God with us. ( Luke 1:24-36) Mary, because of her Virginity is called, in Liturgical text, The Closed Door. The second announcement of the good news, Christ's resurrection, came through the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These icons are placed around the Annunciation icon. The icons of David and Solomon appear on the Royal doors because of their kingship and kinship to our Lord. Solomon is mentioned in the scripture in the construction the temple doors. (Kings 6:32 & Chronicles 3:7) The doors also refer to the coming of Christ when the "King of Glory will come in." (Psalm 24:9)

Icons of the Theotokos and Angel Gabriel

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

Tradition says that the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary while she was spinning yarn and announced to her that she would give birth Jesus Christ (Luke 1:31) The icon shows Mary with yarn in her hand. A verse from the Canon of St. Andrew or Crete describes in a poetic way the story of the Annunciation. "O pure Virgin, the flesh of Emmanuel was formed within your womb as a robe of crimson is spun from scarlet silk. We proclaim you to be truly the Mother or our God."

The Four Evangelists

Iconography of St. Luke Parish. Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The center of the royal doors are adorned with icons of the four evangelists. St John and St. Luke are on the left with St. Mark and St. Matthew on the right. For more inforamtion on their lives please use the links below.

To view the Life of St. Luke the Evangelist, please click here

To view the Life of St. Mark the Evangelist, please click here

To view the Life of St. John the Evangelist, please click here

To view the Life of St. Matthew the Evangelist, please click here

Iconography of St. Luke Parish. Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

Icons of Soloman and David

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

At the top of the Royal Doors are depicted the Prophet David and the Prophet Solomom. The icons of David and Solomon appear on the Royal doors because of their kingship and kinship to our Lord. Solomon is mentioned in the scripture in the construction the temple doors. (Kings 6:32 & Chronicles 3:7)

To view the life of the Prophet David, please click here

To view the life of the Prophet Solomon, please click here

Pentecost (The decent of the Holy Spirit)

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The Icon between the ceiling and arch is of Pentecost (The decent of the Holy Spirit) which occurred 50th days after Pascha when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues. (Acts 2: 1-4) The Icon portrays the historical event which occurred in Jerusalem in 33AD. St. Paul is depicted in the lower left of the icon. At that time he was not a follower of Jesus Christ and not in attendance on Pentecost. He received the gift to the Holy Spirit when he was baptized in Damascus. This icon transcends Pentecost and symbolized the decent of the Holy Spirit on the entire Church - past, present and future.

Mandelion or Icon Not Made With Hands

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The Icon at the very apex the arch is called the Mandelion or Icon Not Made With Hands. It is the face of Jesus Christ which mystically appeared on the napkin which was used by St. Veronica to wipe our Lord's face on his way to Golgotha. The holy napkin was sent by the Apostles to Abgar King of Edessa who was gravely ill for the purpose of healing him. It was placed in a niche above the city gates of Edessa. This began the practice of placing this Icon at the entrance of the Church or over the Holy Doors.

To view the Life of St. Veronica, please click here

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

Painted under the arch over the altar are the words "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabaoth." (Isaiah 6: 3) These words are proclaimed by the Seraphim who are six winged angels who fly around the house of the Lord as described by the prophet Isaiah. The Seraphim are depicted at the top of the arch, above the Icon of the Theotokos in the apse, in the window wells and along the sides of the arch.

The word "Sabaoth" means hosts, almighty or Jehovah the God of the unseen armies of angels. This shows a parallel between the house of the Lord in heaven and the presence of Christ in the Church.

Icon Of St. Luke

Iconography of St. Luke Parish.

The Icon of St. Luke was given in memory Evangeline and Edward Saad for the 25th anniversary of St. Luke Parish. This Icon is displayed in the Narthex of St. Luke Church. It shows St. Luke painting ( writing) the first Icon of the Theotokos. It is the wonder working Theotokos Icon of Tikhvin thought to be actually painted by St. Luke. The original of this Icon was brought to Chicago in 1949 by then Archbishop John when he fled from Russia after the World War II. It was returned to the Monastery of Tikhvin in 2004.

To view The Wonder-working Tikhvin Icon Of The Mother Of God, please click here

The iconographer is Cheryl Pituch one of the founding members of St. Luke parish.